WTF! WFTDA is testing out a new rule set where there’s NO MINORS!? …but I thought refs liked minors? Just kitten, but I feel sorry for the refs if the rules are changed. It’s a fierce look you get when you call a major. Not like Tyra Banks fierce, but like…Are-you-sure?-Because-I-could-come-claw-your-eyeballs-out-if-you’re-not!-type of fierce.
We are the pioneers of modern roller derby. We have to let some change happen to move into the future. I can dig it, just hope we don’t get dysentery along the way. Honestly, my only objection is that I might have to take another rules test. But then, I can be petty.

Before I get to the point, I want to take a second to tell all ref crews everywhere- Thank you! For keeping the game clean and fair. For knowing your shit, and calling us on it. And for… you know, insubordination. In penance, for my fouls, I give you;


The Refs Prayer



Our Ref crew, who art in stripes,



hallowed be thy whistle.



Thy ruling come,



thy will be done,



in scrimmage as it is in bout.



Give us this jam our penalties,



And forgive us our track-cut,



as we forgive those who track-cut against us.



And lead us not into altercation,



but deliver us from foul trouble.



For thine is the track,



the pack and the jammer,



for two minutes at a time.



Good Job.



This whole issue has me thinking about fouls…well, that and the fact that I came one minor from expulsion in our last bout. So here, for your perusal, is a list of foul trouble, and how to avoid or end it.

Failbows

You’re doing one of two things. Either you lead in with your elbows before a hit, or you push off your victim with your chicken wing after you’ve landed a hit. Either way you have to relearn that, because it’s a habit. When you go in for a hit, take your arms out of the equation by pulling them ahead of your torso. Land hits with your body and your hips, not your elbows. Take a few practices off shoulder checks and just use that ass. You could be compensating for weak lateral movement- so work on it.

Sprawling

Getting called for Tripping or a Low block? Work on your four point falls, and tuck like a turtle. In some cases you can avoid a foul by showing a ref that you’re trying to fall small. And work on your foot work- hop like a bunny or skate outside.

Flailing

Flailing is never good, it happens though. Someone hits you off balance and you instantly act like a starfish. Work on your form and your core strength. If you stand up a lot during practice, stop it. Randomly spend time on one foot-arms at your sides-until people at the office start calling you “Flamingo Girl” behind your back, but you don’t care, you don’t flail.

Being a Dick

Passion. That’s your only excuse, and you didn’t think of it until the third shot of tequila at the after-party but now, you are really sorry for that outburst in the second half, and your only excuse for it is passion. So in the future, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. And I’m serious; if you aren’t a captain or alternate, don’t talk to the ref crew until the bout is over. Also, you should probably get laid more often if you’ve got so much passion lying around.

OVER THE LINE!

This is not ‘Nam, there are rules- and lines. You can get yourself in all sorts of foul trouble if you aren’t aware of your position in relation to the track lines. First, you have to really give up the idea that maybe no one saw you cut the track. If they didn’t this time, they will next time. It may seem like the easy route, but making it a habit is a shortcut straight to the box.

Nextly, you have to come correct, when you re-enter the track from the box, you must really come in behind the pack. If you’re re-entering from being blocked out, be certain that you don’t come in ahead of anyone who was in front of you when you went out…and if you aren’t certain, come in behind the pack. Basically, you never want to improve your position on the track by leaving it.

If you’re getting called for out of play penalties it’s because you never give up! But when a jammer is fifteen feet out and gaining speed, you need to really rethink your line of attack. Where are your friends? Go find them.

Those are a few examples but below is a five step program to help us conquer foul trouble.

Step one: Show some respect.

The referees at your practices are volunteers just like you. And they are practicing, just like you. Plus, they have feelings-just like you, and like unicorns. And you wouldn’t scream at a unicorn would you? So don’t be a douchebag, Douchebag.

Step Two: The refs are ALWAYS right.

And before we move on. You’re going to have to get real fucking comfortable with that. Even if you burn an official review, what the ref saw and called is what will stand. So say it with me. The ref is always right. In reality, your job is to play and their job is to determine if you fouled. So do your job and let them do theirs.

Step Three: Read a fucking book.

Read and re-read the rules. Ask questions, do research. Become interested in the rules and use them to your advantage. This is your sport-learn it inside and out.

Step Four: Know thy fouls.

Get very interested in the fouls you get called for. Know what you do wrong so you can correct it. Ask a ref to help you understand the fouls you get. For a few, it will only take a couple humiliating trips to the penalty box before you repent of your foul and change your ways. For the rest of us it’s practice, practice, practice.

Step Five: Sometimes the refs are wrong.

It’s going to happen, you will be called for something you didn’t do. So accept it, and get to the box. Don’t waste time arguing because sometimes you’re wrong. And the refs are always right.

And now for the moral of this story. In all of history, there has never been and never will be another you. Unless you’re a twin… or cloned… then there is kind of another you but generally speaking, you are the only one, whoever gets to be you. Lucky you! And just like we learned last time that your actions are who you are… so will you be remembered. What I’m getting at is, be remembered for all the great things you do, not for being in the box.

…..omg it was sooooo hard to get through that whole post without making a single BOX joke!

It stings. You’re name isn’t listed on the roster or you didn’t make the team. Although you know it’s not, this feeeels personal.

You check the other names on the list, silently cursing each one. You believed you were good enough to make it, and now disappointment sets in. You’re going to need a minute to digest this. It’s ok, take your time. I know. Cry, pout, scream-Get it out. And when you get done chuggin that haterade, get on the track.

“A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do, Nothing else.”

Mahatma Gandhi said that, so did Aristotle and I just said it: All very intelligent individuals. So give yourself a moment to be disappointed that you didn’t make a roster, or the team you wanted, or a league. But don't spend all day. Next take an inventory of your practice habits. Take in some feedback. Then get to work, son.

Above my bed I wrote “You = Your Habits” in big black letters with little stars. So when I wake up every morning, I’m reminded to do the things that I want to be. The stars are just for decoration. I’m reminded that an all-day-hate-a-thon makes me a hater. But a skate-athon? Well, that’s what will put your name on lists.

Remember when we talked about being posi like it’s going out of style? Do that. Instead of focusing on the idea that someone didn’t pick you for their team, find the reasoning in it. Is there anyone who can’t improve? Everyone has something they need to work on.

Focus on your speed, agility, strategy, endurance, thoroughness, teamwork, communication, foot work and foul trouble. Try that Pivot panty on. Triple threat yourself. And try to have a positive fucking attitude! Practice. Practice. Practice.

Be so busy practicing that you forget about the lists. And watch- you start to focus on this moment, this scrimmage, this practice, this drill, that jammer-your coaches will notice. They’ll put a little star right next to your name.

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