Lesson Fourteen: How to grow a set.

Posted on 11:06 AM

The best compliment I probably will ever get came from my aunt LaDonna. She said she wished she had been more like me in her life and taken more chances. She said, “You really have some balls, girl.” Damn straight.

Derby is a natural magnet for women with a little venom in their blood. Women with something to prove, a deep need to be challenged and endure. Look around you at a practice, it’s full of scrappy survivors, ready to play. Take a look into the steel eyes of your comrades during battle and you find a glimpse of yourself too.

But since the age of zero we’ve been coddled and dressed in pink, told to be quiet and for christsake be nice. And here we are on the other side of womanhood trying desperately to awaken the five year-olds we once were, playing in the dirt, beating up boys, and acting a damn fool. We got tired of playing nice, so we started playing roller derby.

Now I say that to say this right herr: When you lace your skates and you roll across that floor you must become that warrior that sleeps inside you. You must shake off the decades of doubt and reach deep into the core of your spleen where you will find one giant pair of balls that say, “Oh fuck yeah I can.” I’m telling you, they actually say that. And the reason you truly truly must is this: There is no room for self doubt in derby. It is a mentally and physically exhausting battle and you MUST stay positive to be prepared for the challenge.

You did it. You already decided to play. There are twenty girls at home watching House for each and every one of us at practice. So take a second to pat yourself on the back and realize you are the fucking shit. You rock.

My advice today is this: ban any and all negative thoughts from your head. Saying, “I can’t” is blasphemy. Discouragement is viral so buck up!

Lesson Thirteen: Notes to an injured Bunnie

Posted on 8:26 AM
Being injured sucks asshole. There’s no pretty way to put it. If I were in a death metal band I would write songs about how deep the hate river flows inside me for bio-freezed knees that keep me out of play. Yep, sure would. And it’d be big in Sweden.

This gimp-ness has got to end! I know a few ways to make sure I’m on skates for a while. I’ll give myself the advice today. I’ll write it out in a nice little bloggity about staying playing and we’ll both read it and say things like, “Hm, sounds like a plan, stan.”

I’m going to start off by doing some inner leg exercises! My knee issues stem from the fact that I have some super strong muscles that aren’t exactly in proportion to the weaker inside muscles. And with hips like “woah” the angle from hip to knee makes it easy for my knee caps to be pulled off to one side. Ouchers! So inner knee exercises it is!

Next up is an Equipment check! It sucks to stand on the sidelines but if your equipment is broke there is just no need to chance the damn thing. I found this out last practice. I should have realized it was a bad idear to glue my skates back together after the boot started to rip from the plate but no, I have a thick skull and thought it would be just fine and dandy. The truth is any little thing can make you skate funny and that leads to more injuries. Also, making sure you have the dopest, thickest pads is KEY to knee heaven.

Then I’m going to get on the floor and work out what doesn’t hurt until I’m all better. Part one of getting better is realizing you aren’t some like super hero. And part two is taking care of your body like a normal person would. I’m not saying we’re normal… we’re rollerderby-uns, and that makes us special but not immune to the physical errors we’d all like to ignore. While I’m working on other things I’ll be throwing myself a posi-party. That’s as in posi-tive. I’ll be thinking of sunshine and rainbows and knocking bitches down. All the things that make bunnies smile. …oh and carrots.

So are ya with me? Let’s make the most of being pissed off that we’re injured. Let's get better and stay better and play better! Yay Better!

Lesson the Twelth: If you're so fast, why you always behind me??

Posted on 7:45 AM
The best part of my day? Holding the fastest jammer on our team behind me in scrimmage. Not so fast now, are ya speed skater? ::evil bunny grin::

You’ve got to get in where you fit in, and so what if you’re not the fastest skater on the team. Use what you have, and I’ve got W-I-D-T-H! I’ve got long Bunny legs in a wide stance that can span half the track and a little bunny tail that will be all up in that jammers face. As for speed, I’ve got it side-to-side. I can block her outside and still beat her back to the line. But this isn’t about me and my big head bragging. This is about how to! Right?

Welp, first you set your self to swizzle skating every chance you get. Get comfortable, really comfy, with all eight wheels on the ground in fluid motions. Swizzle skating is the basis for all great blocking. And if there is one thing you should master it is the swizzle in all its very simple forms. “But why Bunniebunbun? What’s so great about slaloms? What’s so fancy about an hourglass?” you ask. And I say some explicative but then really to address your questions I’d offer this little gem right herr; with all eight wheels on the ground, with a solid and wide stance, with your shoulders turned in to the left and your eyes peering magnificently into the eyes of that hurried jammer, with all that going for you, why not?

My brandest newest advice: Swizzle your heart out. Let swizzling be your automatic gear. Work on widening your stance by sitting down into it. Let your shoulders guide you around the track, always turned the direction you’d most like to go. And of course keep those eyeballs peeled!

Once you’re comfortable, really comfy, begin to challenge yourself by lunging across the track from inside to outside and outside to inside in just one strong move. Do it faster and control it more each time. You’ll notice that the positioning of your toes and shoulders will determine your course while the thrust and change in your body weight distribution determines the speed of this lateral movement. You want to point yourself in the right direction while basically throwing your weight hither or thither, depending.

This is the kind of skill that will neutralize those bronze-baby-skate-havin-grand-slammin-jammer types. Work hard on these things and soon you’re going to be one hard to get by blocker!

Lesson Eleven: Fake it 'til ya Make it!

Posted on 12:16 PM
I hear so much about strategy lately and to be honest, I just don't get most of it. I try to understand but my big bunny brain is just too full of nonsense and exaggerated claims. So, in case you're like me I'm going to show you how to fake like you know what your doing.

Stay real close to your buddies. Touch them, look at them, listen to them, and try to do what they do-especially if they act like they know what to do!

Stay tuned-in. This takes uhhm...uhhh...practice. When I'm not taking medication for ADHD it takes even more practice, and forget it if there's something shiney. During league scrimmages and practices I try to avoid any un-derby-related topics. During a bout I could be a victim of spontaneous human combustion and never know.

Talk to yourself, shout at others. Keep a running dialogue of what is happening at all times and shout out the good parts. ("Jammer coming up right behind me, like kind of to the outside- no! Inside! Oh shit, here she's trying it again- outside! I've got the line! You go out! We missed her! Water falling now- I'm going up! She's getting tired and frustrated. Our jammer is ten feet from the pack, five feet!")

Keep your eyes wide open. In practice, it sometimes gets boring to always look behind you. But if you practice this during every drill it will become second nature.

If you're still unsure of what you should be doing try taking a look at my fancy flo-tegery chart below.

Sike! Nah, but really though...

I wouldn’t want to meet me in a dark alley lately. I am such a blonde bunch of aggression right now. I think it’s all because of derby, or the lack. I can’t skate for a minute and all the sudden I’m ready to rumble!

I couldn’t skate last week at a scrimmage because I did something doubleplusungood to my knee the week before. I didn’t take care of an older injury and ended up making it much worse. Boo! (No worries though, it’s on it’s way to healing up real good and proper this time.)

I watched the scrimmage between our ladies in green and a fan-fucking-tastic team from Louisville- DCRG. It was wrenching! On the one hand you got your total helplessness, there is no assisting from the sidelines. Then on the other hand- it’s so easy to learn from there. But fuck that blah blah learning shit- I want to play!

So, this is our plan to get off the sidelines, and stay off the sidelines. Ready! OK!

Firstly, take care of yourself and all your movable parts. You play a fucking contact sport so take your vitamins. Do good things; drink water, get in shape and stay in shape, fix your injuries, get big and strong. RAWR!

Secondly, this is a team sport so be a team player. Push yourself to be the best, most reliable player you can be. Just like you hope somebody is holding the line because you’re going out to get the jammer, they are looking to you to bust ass to the front of the pack or meet them with a wall that works. Be good lookin’ out an shit.

And third of all, don’t give up. Don’t give up. No matter what happens, if you give up you most def are not going to be helpful. Did I mention it’s bad to give up? I may have written about that before but just in case, don’t ever give up!

Now I’m off to push over little kids on their bikes and use bad language.

Lesson Nine: So whatcha whatcha whatcha want?

Posted on 4:21 PM

“I want to play roller derby.” I couldn’t believe I’d said it out loud.  I wanted to take it back, go back to the girl I was before I wanted anything hard.  But it was the truth and when I realized how much work it would take to get me from zero to derby girl, I was scared as all hell. 

I quit soccer, softball, cheerleading, band camp, college, and more jobs than you can shake a stick at.  I quit because I thought I couldn’t, because I wasn’t strong, wasn’t fast enough, and didn’t have enough coordination, endurance, patience or time.  I was ready to quit before I started.   Then something very important happened. 

Someone said, “You can’t” So I got skates and pads and joined a team.

Someone said, “You’ll never…” And with a rebel gleam in my eyes, I tried.

Someone said, “You aren’t…” So I pushed myself harder than ever before.

Then after more than a year of trying, someone said, “You did it!” And I looked back at all my hard work, all the days I could have given up, and I couldn’t believe my ears when I said, “I did it.  I play roller derby!” 

Every derby girl has one thing in common- she doesn’t give up, she can’t.  Learning to play the game is hard, training is hard, practicing three times a week is hard, staying fit is hard, realizing you aren’t even halfway there is hard, making the roster is hard, controlling your pre-bout nerves is hard…but quitting, that’s easy. 

For every new skater that joins our team there are at least ten more who say they want to play, but never made it to a practice. The truth is they can’t do it, because no matter how much they want it they aren’t willing to put in the time and effort it takes to get there.  When you cross that threshold, when you commit yourself to training, when you show up, you’ve already separated yourself from those who can’t.  

Today’s lesson: Yes, you can.  In fact, you are the only one who can.  No one else can make you into a derby girl.  The only time you fail in derby is when you give up.  So, don’t stop moving your feet, practicing, challenging yourself, and never stop believing that you can be anything you want.

Lesson Eight: When I move you Move, just like that.

Posted on 12:02 PM
That's it.  That's the whole blog.  - Move when I move.  I'm the blocker on the other team.  I'm the one causing trouble for your jammer. I'm the one that knocked you on your ass last jam.  I'm making you nervous.  I'm the other teams jammer, the one that's gotten through every last time she's jammed.  I'm too fast for you to chase.  So get over here in front of me and move when I move.

The heart of the matter is; you've got to work on lateral movements.  Just like your coaches have been telling you all along.  But I always thought it was more important to be fast.  The truth is you can stop the fastest skaters with a wide stance and quick lateral movement.  

Get very used to always looking behind you.  Before the whistle, check out their jammer -what's she look like, what is she wearing, etc.  If she's not wearing a mouthpiece you're the one who should notice first.  When the first whistle blows you have to get off the line, figure out what the pack is doing, wall up, and begin to control the pack.  Once that second whistle blows your eyes are constantly flashing back to their jammer.  You should gage her speed and prepare to give her position to the pack at all times.  She's the most important girl in your derby world for the next two minutes.  

So it's the moment of truth! She's right behind us and coming in fast.  We know she prefers the inside so we're trying to stay put to the left but she's riding the outside and we'll miss her if we don't go out and get her.  Our favorite teammate is close and hears us yelling, "Jammer on the outside- going out!" and they immediately bust ass to the front inside line while we go out to meet the jammer.  We keep our eyes on her and start to match her speed.  We juke out when she does but not as hard.  She knows the outside route is the longest and it's just a matter of time before she jukes back in.  We have to always be ready to beat her back to the line.  She's trying to pull us out far enough to pass us on the inside.   But we're not havin' it, we're ready.  We've been working on lateral movements.  We move when she moves.  



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