Lesson Seven: There is No Pouting in Derby

Posted on 1:18 AM
From The Never Ending Story:
Atreyu and Artax had searched the Silver Mountains, the Desert of Shattered Hopes, and the Crystal Towers without success. And so, there was only one chance left. To find Morla, the ancient one, the wisest being in Fantasia whos home was the Shell Mountain somewhere in the deadly Swamps of Sadness. Everyone knew that whoever let the sadness overtake him would sink into the swamp.


The day of tryouts I was sick. Not with the flu, worse. I was physically ill at the idea of the tryout. I would be on display; fully vulnerable to the judging eyes of my peers. I pulled into the parking lot of the rink and tried to rinse out the taste of vomit from my mouth with some water. I can do this, I thought. This is like any other practice, I thought. I took another gulp. I should go back home and crawl under the covers and forget about tryouts for another few months, I thought.

I went inside, still intent on going home but locked in the death grip of this thought: ‘If I go home now, I go home a coward.’ I had to go inside and face my fears. I had to put my shaking legs and turning stomach aside and focus. So, I put on my skates and warmed up.

The best advice I ever got was, “Never give up. The moment just after you give up could have made all the difference.”

I didn’t make the team that day, but I never gave up. In derby, and life, you will take a beating, metaphorically and otherwise. But don’t get loaded down with despair. You’ll need all the strength you can for the after party.

Lesson Six: Poker, and knock her down

Posted on 8:49 AM
My grandpa won his house in a poker game. His dad, and his dad's dad played poker. And when my dad was 15 he was already collecting slot cars for the neighborhood kids' poker game debts to him. As a child I sat on his lap, careful not to tell his hand. I fell asleep to the low rumbling sounds of men talking and playing poker in the kitchen.

I got lucky and got the kind of dad that wants to stuff all the wisdom he can into my big girl brain. He taught me an awful lot about people, math, and story telling- all through poker.

In poker the game starts before you ever sit down to a table. In derby, you can get ahead before any whistles are blown. So, here for your pleasure are some chips off the old block. In Derby I like to call it “Strategery.”


Poker:
1. Protect your hand. Make sure no one sees your cards, or reads them off your glasses, or looks over your shoulder, or nothing else!
Derby Translation:
Protect your plans and be stealthy. No giving hints and no letting on that you’re scared or nervous! I like to just confuse people, but being kinda blank works just fine.

Poker:
2. Be aware. Look and listen to the reactions players have to one another, to their cards, to their seat, to their drinks, and to you.
Derby Translation:
Check out the players around you. Be the expert when you get onto the floor. Size up the competition. Are you getting the shifty eye from a pivot? Think she’s got a plan, is she tired, what has she been up to the last few jams?

Poker:
3. This is your game, make them play.
Derby Translation:
Once the whistle blows, you start. Don’t wait on another player to push you into reacting. Make them react to you. Take control.

Poker:
4. Be prepared to be flexible. This is a game, with lots of variables, and lots of controls.
Derby Translation:
If the plan you have isn’t working- ditch it. The ability to constantly re-evaluate your game plan is key. Plus, changing it up makes the other team work harder pin you down to a specific strategy.

My final advice is to work together, work together, work together! Your best resources are the four women on your team. Together you can make a killer hand. Make walls, make plans, make points.

Lesson Five: Change Your Mind

Posted on 9:14 AM
Lesson Five: Change your Mind,
I hit the ground yelling, marrow seeping from my bones into my leg -spreading dread and adrenaline. In slow-mo-shin my ankle flipped, it flopped, it gave up and lay there in my boot, a dead fish in a sea of sound. The sounds said, "Oh my ohmyohmyohmy" and "oh no ohnononono" and mostly, "FUCK FUCK FUckfuckfuckfuck!"
As though we had written the scenario carefuly and read then from the practiced script, we played out the night with precision. "The Medic", played by Lass Gasp gave direction, exported the broken bones to the bone fixery, soothed nerves, and used her insider connections to insure the very best of care. The entire cast gave stellar performance after stellar performance. The stars were out.
When I woke up a few days later in a nest of pillows and blankets, at home, I had only enough voice to say, "Thank you thankyouthankyouthankyou" and fall gently back to deep slumber. It was then that they pulled together, charted and measured my exact needs, and while I slept they made it all ok. "My League Derby Loves me" I thought. And, "I derby love them too."
So of course, when I finally could sit, I sat up. When I finally could hop, I hopped, when I could stretch at last, I did. The day came that I could get outside and I smiled and soaked in the sun. I thought, "If i can go outside, surely I can go to the corner" and I could. I thought, "If I can get all the way to the corner, I can go to practice" and I did. I thought "If I'm at practice, I can stretch, I can do crunches," and I did. I can, I can, I can...I can do all things through derby.
For me, my league gave their time, their groceries, their compassion. For them, I will get better. I will be better than ever before.
18 days ago I broke my leg,
This week I get to swim,
in 20 more days I will walk,
and by derby, I will skate again.
And this brings me to my lesson for you, from me.
My advice is this; stay positive.
Say "I can", "I'm not tired", "I can do it","I can do it again"
Smile when your muscles hurt. Laugh when your tired.
Don't let yourself down and don't let your team down.
Don't waste time saying, "I can't"...not when you have every reason to believe today is the day that you can.

Lesson Four: Get on the Floor

Posted on 9:13 AM
You and I are mild mannered. We're not the type that starts fights, right? We are smart enough to know that physical violence is uncalled for. We are civil women of character.
That's all very true. But jesus help those who are against us.
Not so long ago, in a place far far away, two evil women "started shit" with a member of my beloved Circle City Socialites. The incident quickly escalated until five members of our team (including me) were forced to "throw down on them bitches."
Of course, the poor evil doers never had a chance and the whole thing lasted only a few minutes. But in those few minutes, we learned something invaluable about the women we are.
I woke up feeling, different, changed, ... I woke up in a bathtub actually. But the change was not from the tub-sleeping. My confidence grew exponentially during the night. I not only feel secure in the fact that I can handle myself in most any situation; I now see that there are 25 other girls, just as bad ass, and they will pin a girl to a cop car if you try to "start somethin."
I woke up with a whole new respect for my teammates. They are some savage bitches. At the practices since then I've become less concerned with politeness. I've stricken the words "I'm sorry!" from my vocabulary during scrimmages. The reason is not because I'm now a jerk, no no no no, silly. It's that I know they can handle me. They sharpen themselves against me, and I sharpen myself against them. And If that means I get knocked down alot, welp, that's why i've invested in ice packs and ibuprofen.
So my advice today is this:
Beat others as you would like to be Beated.
Challenge yourself. Challenge your team.
And occasionaly, you should sleep in a tub. It's good for your constitution.

Soooo, We're on the right track. We're not fearless, but getting closer, and we're now ready to start all over. ...mmm yep allll over.
And the very best way to start again is with a song! Yes, it is!
You see,
You and me will likely be in training all our lives.
We'll never lose, we'll always win when we continually strive.
But as we often find in kids we knowwwwwwwww
We briefly pause ::pause::
andddddd hit a Plateauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.
Then we'll take heart, in the quiet confident knowledge
That each Plateau-is a time for polish!
Sorry to have turned this into a musical, but as it is prone to do.. my best encouragement comes in song form.
My point is this is my point, it's this; This is going to take some time, a whole lot of time, it's going to take plenty of time-to do it right. Don't get discouraged if you're not great tomorrow, or next month, or next year even. You're building on your skills everytime you try. So Try! and Try and Try again!!!!!
My other suggestion is to chart your progress. Make a note of what you're working on and how comfortable you are with it. This not only allows you to notice when you've hit the proverbial "wall"; it also gives you something to look back on, a record of all the progress you've made.
...Can you believe you used to dread the turns?? Did you realize you crossover without looking down? and... How many little kids have you knocked down this week- Less than last week?! Right on, that's fuckin progress.
I'm so proud of you.

Lesson Two: You simply must get out more often!

Posted on 8:59 AM
So the fear I've got is breaking something, or getting hurt bad enough to keep me from ambulating. That would kind of piss me off. And it's reasonable to assume a small percentage of our team will be injured to this degree. And it's reasonable to assume you're more able to stay upright when you're calm and collected, versus scared out of your gord. That's right, I said gord. I'll say it again too.

So to kill this fear, really dead, you've got to think like a Bunnie. And what do bunnies do? THEY HOP!!... ok and they mate, but for now i'm only talking about the hopping part.
I didn' hop on skates for a long ass time. Not that I couldn't. In fact now I realize I have always been capable, just not willing. I did not want to hop. If I did, something bad would happen. I saw lots of ladies landing on tailbones when they jumped, and i'm just too proud to sit on a donut pillow.
But then I saw Ace of NRG in a bout. There was a nastymess of falling Roller Girls on the last turn and Ace is jamming through it, stepping over, jumping over, turning, teetering and solidly jetting through the pack- which is mostly on the floor by the time she's through.
A- She's got her baby skates bronzed.
But B.. She still should have fallen. I saw her nearly bite it a few times but she never touched the ground... like an angel from heaven.
So if there is one trick I want to know it's the "Staying Up" thing.
And here's how you get it:
Get outdoor wheels and put them on your skates.
Take yourself someplace nice, someplace where the cement is pretty smooth and relatively flat. I suggest The Monon Trail, The Canal Walk, and random new parking lots.
Now, get out and put your pads on, all of them, and your mouthguard, tailguard, and maybe smoke a cigarette first too- Just in case.
Take a look at the cement you used to think was so smooth. It's not smooth at all is it? See all that debris?! It's really terrifying isn't it? If you were inside you would say, "No Way , Jose!" But you are not inside and you don't have your inside wheels on anymore.
Give yourself a goal and slowly, you will tumble towards it. When I first skated outside I hated it. I was "Not putting up with this!" But I came to quickly realize that outside you have very limited choices. You either move your feet, or fall on your ass.
So move your feet! There is very little "cruising" outside so you have to adapt. You will learn that given the choice of falling vs staying up, your instincts begin to choose for you.
Once you get away from your car, you really have no choice but to learn. I suppose your other choice is to sit by and watch sweaty men in spandex jostle by you, and that is no way for a roller girl, especially a Socialite, to spend a lovely afternoon.
If you do this, your first time back inside will feel like heaven, your reflexes will be closer to ninja than ever, and you will have that fear in your super action hero death grip....bwa ha ha ha
So, if you see a girl flailing her arms and screaming down the monon... call the police haven'tyou heard of all the recent crime over there??

Lesson One: Girl, Go get you a Noodle!

Posted on 8:56 AM In: , ,
Let’s get started! The first thing we have to do is find our fears, tie them up, and murder them with a huge butcher knife.. or pool noodle actually.

So, Go to the dollar store and get yourself a pool noodle. Take that noodle home. Tell your dog you are "Not playing around!" Then drop it on the floor between you and your TV because the Simpsons are on and you've got some fear to kill.
To Explain; I asked for some advice about turn stops and jumping from the ref for our league- Baron VonSplatterday (B-Splat). He explained the movement. I stood blank and obviously un-helped by the explanation.
He explained a second time adding, “Well, you have jumped and turned around before haven't you?"

But no, I've never, or at least not in a long time. So he told me to do it, right then, without skates on. I was a little embarrassed. ‘What if I can’t jump and turn around at all?’ I thought. The same fear that holds my trembling skates to the floor glued my rubber soled shoes to the cement. I was amazed to be stuck with the same feeling I've had so many times on skates. After a few dry runs I nervously jumped up and twirled to face the other direction. -and I did it! TaDaa!

After realizing I had all this time been afraid to jump (period), I decided I had to get more comfortable with my body in motion, all kinds of motion.
My advice:
Stand about a foot from your noodle and jump over it, forward. Now try it backwards. Do you feel silly? Good, good. Keep it up! The point is that you begin to get the feel for your body while it's in motion. And since you're doing this in your "safe place" (for me it's the Simpson’s, for you maybe it's What Not to Wear), you are learning to move your body without fear.
More things to do: Jump and twist and twirl! Land on your toes! Land on one foot! Land on the dog! .. no no don't land on the dog. The next time you practice you will be amazed at how much more comfortable you are doing the tricks you used to agonize over. Keep practicing! You've got Fear on the run!

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