NHRD’s Helen Carnate spoke with Brady Carlson of NH Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” about the abundance of derby love in the Granite State, current rankings, and what newcomers to the sport should watch for at their first bout.
Click here to visit NHPR.org to listen to the clip and get information about New Hampshire’s SEVEN fabulous women’s roller derby leagues!
“…Rules Committee has seen to it that no one who understood the game the year before should understand it this year. The motto of the Rules Committee seems to have been: ‘New rules and new [fans] each year.’ …They changed rules every season as if they were trying to work up a new game…and make it into something they didn’t quite know about. They made illegal all the old plays that used to be the essence of the game and sat up nights trying to think up new things to put in their places. It has got so now that the Rules Committee itself is about the only body of [people] who know enough about the game to play it, and they haven’t anybody to play it with.”
This quote sums up the sentiment I get from many people each time WFTDA comes out with a revised rule set (almost unfailingly longer than the previous set) or clarification essays on the current rule set. I can appreciate the frustration. Teams need to change their strategies. Referees need to retrain their crews. These are not trivial tasks. Fans puzzle over why teams take unexpected tactics or why their favorite jammer got sent to the box. Their inability to understand the changing game can affect how much they enjoy being a spectator.
The evolving of the rule set is just a necessary part of the evolution of roller derby. As our sport becomes more mature, we need more robust rules. As teams push the limits of the rules, holes are found that need to be corrected to avoid unfair advantages. As more referees are needed, clear, detailed rules need to be written down to ensure accurate and consistent enforcement. Thoughtful consideration and revision of the rule set will eventually lead to better play by teams and more enjoyment by fans–even if it’s painful for everyone in the short term.
The quote at the beginning of this post was taken from an essay written by humorist Robert Benchley around 1930 about another sport that was in its early years of gaining popularity. The title is, “Football Rules or Whatever They Are.” I think football managed to survive its growing pains of rule revisions and so can roller derby. Maybe one day we’ll have mega pop stars having wardrobe malfunctions during the half-time show of our national championships! I’m willing to suffer through a lot more rule changes for that!
Twas the eve before bout day,
And all through my brain,
My mind it was racing,
Faster than the fastest train.
Did I pack all my things?
Did I wash my gear?
What if a lace breaks?
How will I get there?!
The thoughts come unbidden
Making the night restless
Red eyed and bleary, I rise and swear,
Curse you bout day brain! How the hell can I skate with no sleep! Why can’t I ever F&#$ing sleep before a bout!?
So, bout day has crept up on you and now you are in a panic. (I know I do it!) You’re stuck in your head, thinking of all the things you did or did not do, running through drills, plays, skills, and you cannot get calm.
Well, at least you think you can’t.
Eventually, at least I hope, you will see you can form a little routine that will help you stop thinking so harshly about yourself. I hope to help you find that routine, and it all starts, once again… with your mind.
We really need to find the key that fits.
Take a second to think about any of the sporting events you have been to where you can see the athletes before they hit the court/track/field. What are they doing? Some have headphones on and are rocking through pushups and jumping jacks, some are laying on the ground or floor with their eyes closed, and some are gearing up so slowly that it seems they are just sitting there with one skate on and a wrist guard half strapped into place.
I have a few seemingly silly routines that I am going to share with you.
First: The night before. I drink ridiculous amounts of water through the day before a bout. Excessive amounts? Maybe. And yes, I go to the bathroom a lot the night before a bout. I also eat a healthy, yet carbohydrate fueled, dinner. And no alcohol at all for at least 72 hours. Which, when you consider a bouting and practice schedule… means I do not drink anymore.
Next: I go to bed early enough where I will not have to set my alarm. Usually around 10 or 11pm. Early for a Friday, sure. But, worth the extra Zzzz’s in the end. Waking up without an alarm is actually a road to all around better sleep. Because 10pm is my normal “bed time”, it is not a problem for me to get up by 8:30am on the weekends. My body knows, but if yours doesn’t… you may have some sleep training to do!
And now Bout Day!
In the morning, I have coffee, take an extra long and extra hot shower, and try to get a high protein/high carb breakfast. Usually that means OJ, a Bagel with Egg & Bacon, and fruit. The bacon is for my soul, because you need to feed your soul on bout day! No, really!
After all that, I am in my uniform! Sure, it might be 10:15am, and I might have 2-4 hours before I need to leave the house, but hell… I am ready! The car is packed, my gear is set, and now.. I can truly relax. I read, watch TV, read the forums or a chapter in my book, and drink more water. I like to be relaxed.
On the drive to the bout, I like to sing along and rock out to upbeat music. I like this because it keeps me light hearted.
At the bout venue: First, I like to be early. I am almost always early. Wanna carpool with me? Best want to be early. I will gear up super slow; like snails pace. Sometimes I will run in place and walk the track without my skates. Once I have my gear on, you may find me laying on the floor with my headphones on tapping to my music. But, in my mind I am already skating. I am blocking, partnering, and really rocking the track. I then like to do a breathing exercise. I breathe in all the wonderful things about skating, and then I breathe out my nerves.
That is not me, but that is what I do: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nocklebeast/5063522023/sizes/z/in/photostream/
I like to nibble fruit when I feel relaxed, talk with my team. I may even munch a Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich!
All my Food is this level of Gourmet
Last season I led the teams I skated with (Skate Free or Die! All Stars, and the Granite Skate Troopers) in some breathing exercises. I hope to again this year. Like a team meditation! Helping them relax, helped me.
You can find simple meditations with a little help from Google or even YouTube!
Everyone has a routine for everything. As humans, we are creatures of habit. We do what makes us feel good when we need it. No, really!
So, getting rid of your bout-day-jitters is all up to you in the long run. Eventually you will find something that helps you get your heart out of your throat, and untie that stomach knot. Last post and this post, I will recommend again the book The Mind Gym. It may be just what your brain needs!
Now… get out there… and skate!
If you pour a beer into a bag of Fritos and then chuck it into back alley dumpster full of rotten apples, close the lid and let it sit for a year, I imagine the resulting odor would approximate the unique scent of roller derby gear. Some people wear the fragrant essence of derby as a badge of honor; a gold medal for hard skating. These people need to cut the shit.
“UGH! Who is smuggling roadkill in their sports bra?” an annoyed skater may ask.
“Teehee! It’s me! Goodness, my gear smells like that old bowl of chicken ramen I found under my bed on dorm move-out day!” says the offending skater. Are you kidding me? My eyes are watering, not because I am sad about roadkill, but because of the little green wavy stink waves emanating from wrist guards. How can people let this to continue to happen? “Heehee! It’s my secret weapon! With this elbow pad stench, no one will come within 2 feet of me on the track!” Comedy? This joke isn’t funny anymore!
Let’s look at the cold, foul facts: When we play roller derby, we sweat a ton. Sweat does not smell. But when warm sweat is mixed with the entire bacteria ecosystem living on the surface of our skin, we enter stankonia (noun: Land of unpleasant smells, unrelated to OutKast). Your gear is all-inclusive, hedonistic resort for sweat and bacteria to mingle and multiply to make bacteria babies who then go to Stank University to experiment with bacteria bongs and multiply some more. Congratulations! You are basically a walking biohazard! Yuck! Do you use your gear bag as a weapon of mass olfactory destruction? Gross! Is all of my shaming working?
“I’m grossed out but I’m so broke! I can’t afford to wash gear!” Okay, I get this. I live in an apartment without a washer and dryer. Lugging everything to the laundromat is a huge hassle and then paying $2+ a load makes me mad about the pressure to be clean at all times. But I refuse to be a hypocrite, so I devised a way to clean my gear at my apartment. Here’s a how-to:
BROKE GIRL GEAR CLEANING
Time: It’s going to take 24+ hours for your gear to dry (depending on general humidity) so make sure you do this in a small lull in your practice/bouting schedule.
-Bathtub with running hot water (Sorry, Clampetts)
-Maybe you can use the sink if you don’t have a tub
-Rag towels (use the ones you ruined during that exhausting Manic Panic phase you had)
-Pants hangers (optional)
-Sweater rack (optional)
Cleaning solutions (choose any combination or one or more!):
-Vodka (Really? You want to use something you could drink? Okay…)
-Isopropyl/Rubbing Alcohol (Same effect as vodka except it’s cheaper and you cannot drink this)
-Essential oils (If you are a hippy)
Here’s my arsenal:
Ceramic owl optional.
Do it up!
- Close the drain to the bath and start running some hot water. Fill tub at least halfway.
- Alternative for tiny apartments: Fill up the sink!
- If you have knee pads with removable caps (like 187s), take them off. The Velcro is pretty heavy-duty but you can pry them off with a little elbow grease.
- Put in about ½ cup of all of the cleaning solutions you use.
- If you use laundry detergent, put in enough for 1 load of laundry.
- If you use essential oil just put in a few drops, I guess. I don’t know what the deal is with this stuff.
- Throw your gear in. If you are gagging, submerge gear in the soapy water and flee the room.
- Grab a beer from the fridge and drink it.
- Alternative for the beerless: Wine!
- Alternative for the wineless: Vodka cocktail!
- Alternative for people who don’t drink alcohol: Carbonated high fructose corn syrup!
- Watch some youtube videos of puppies until you’re done drinking your beer.
- Poke your head into the bathroom and if you are still unable to breathe, wrap one of the rag towels around your nose and mouth.
- Do you have some spray air freshener? Maybe that will help.
- Put your cleaning gloves on because you are about to murder some stank and you don’t want to leave any fingerprints.
- Swish the gear around the tub (sink?). You really want to create the atmosphere of an actual washing machine here – swish with great vigor and gusto.
- Are you done swishing? You are not. Continue swishing.
- Pull the drain on the tub (sink?) and start running the hot water.
- Rinse each piece of gear thoroughly and squeeze the excess water out.
- Lay gear on a towel. Use another towel to absorb more excess water from the gear.
- When you air-dry your gear it will still drip water onto the floor. Solution: put your sweater rack in the tub and lay the gear on the sweater rack.
- Alternative: Put all gear on pants hangers and hang from shower curtain. You’ll need to lay out some towels on the floor because it will drip!
- Alternative: Hang gear outside on balcony.
**BONUS ROUND: Clean your gross mouth guard!
- Rinse your mouth guard under warm running water.
- Take your toothbrush and put a little bit of toothpaste on it.
- Brush your mouth guard as if they were teeth!
- Rinse excess toothpaste.
- Minty fresh!
Eventually, you will have to clean your gear. There’s no way around it! You are so doomed! Here are some tips for preventing the smell from creeping back so you can go longer in between cleanings:
- Air out all of your gear after practice. Oh you’re tired? Well so am I – tired of you smelling bad. Physically take your gear out of your bag, secure them on pants hangers and hang them somewhere to safely dry out. If you can’t bring yourself to do that, just dump your gear bag on the floor and hope for the best.
-If you’re feeling ambitious, spray some stuff on the gear that is airing out. Febreze, old body spray from that gift basket you got at Christmas, rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle, etc.
-You can make little odor-eating satchels to put in your gear bag. Put some baking soda in an old orphan sock (or cut some fabric from a retired pair of tights) and secure the bundle with an elastic band.
-Shower. Just wash yourself, it helps.
Photos by me and my hipster brick
Bobbi (left, with pivot cover); Ovie (right, with green socks)
Bobbi Gore – Nightmares on Elm Street – #1972
Game Ovaries – Seabrook Meltdowns – #PM5
(Tiara thinks her number should have been 28 days!)
While I usually profile one skater each month, this is a special occasion and you get TWO for the price of one. Bobbi and Ovie are individuals who just happened to come to NHRD as a “package deal”. And it doesn’t hurt that they are buddies! So forgive me the indulgence of this double whammy…
You two are the comeback kids! You tried out last season, but that didn’t work out. You came to us and became NSO’s – learning the game from all angles. And still practicing when you could with the goal of being a skater. AND YOU DID IT! What’s the journey been like for you?
BOBBI: AWESOME…seriously. After the tryouts ended last year and I got my email that I didn’t make it I was a little down and out, but then I got a second email from Slam I Am basically saying, hey you can stick around if you want, on one condition, you learn stats. I was thinking the same thing Ovie was and when she texted me about what my plan was. I told her I would be completely down with staying around. We talked to Woody and GoGo at an open skate, they told us to come to a practice, we did, and from there it’s been nothing but puppies, rainbows, and unicorns (mixed in with a smidge of glitter). Going to practices was great, we got a chance to skate and observe some of the skills and drills the girls in the league need to learn, increase our derby knowledge, and NSO with the greatest group of officials ever to walk this planet. Last year with NHRD was one of the most positive and life changing experiences I’ve ever had and I can’t even imagine what 2012 will have in store.
OVIE: It’s been a journey all right, and a long one at that. It’s been a year since becoming part of the New Hampshire Roller Derby league and wonderful things have been happening left and right. Here’s a little time line for you:
- January/February 2011 : NHRD freshmeat tryouts and didn’t make the cut
- February-April 2011: Skated at open skates at various locations/ trying to master the skills we were known at the tryouts
- April-October 2011: Learned how to be a NSO and also shadowed refs.
- November-December 2011: Attended both NHRD freshmeat bootcamp/ freshmeat training
- December 2011: Passed the Level 1 assessments
- January 2012: Passed the Level 2 assessments and became an OFFICIAL SKATER of NHRD!!!!!
Throughout all the months, I have been given the pleasure of meeting and getting to know the amazing, talented people of NHRD. I can’t say it enough how everyone has been so supportive to me. I’ve attended the bout after parties and even little after practice get togethers which have made me feel so welcomed and appreciated. Being on this league has made me feel like just another member of this huge, loving family. This journey of mine is far from over and even more awesome things will be coming my way. All I can say is.. I’M READY!
Bobbi, you’ve had a little experience skating in the past. But what about you Ovie? And which one of you convinced the other to join derby?
BOBBI: Well, I skated, but I was never very good just kind of fearless. Playing street hockey I would be the first one to put myself between the other player and the ball without any hesitation. I was sitting in my cube at work, miserable, and the next thing I know I get a text from Ovie saying “Hey I’m trying out for NHRD you should too,” (or at least that’s what it said in my head). I had talked and talked and talked for years about how I was going to try out for NHRD. Seriously, when the league was forming I was at Eastern Boarder and on my way out I see the flyer, took down the phone number, and was totally planning on doing it until I realized I was broke and didn’t have a ride to practice. In 2010 Mr. Gore bought me a pair of skates for Valentine’s Day, and I went skating three times before tryouts, scattered throughout the year. Needless to say the night of tryouts I was awful and not really too surprised when I got my email within the week telling me to keep trying. In other words good old Game Ovaries gave me the kick in the rear. I needed to stop talking and just do it and she was there by my side.
OVIE: No skating experience for me. The last time I laced up a pair of roller skates was when I was 7 years old; not to mention they were Barbie roller skates (man, I wish I still had those). I skated a little when I was a pre-teen. I remember my middle school would do Wednesday night field trips to Roller Kingdom. At that time the “cool” thing was to rollerblade. Roller-skating was out of the picture. I never really skated after middle school, so I haven’t skated for 12 years. With my new found interest of roller derby and finding out when the next NHRD try outs were back in December 2011, I decided that maybe I should put skates on to even see if I was able to skate at all. I went to Roller Kingdom one busy Saturday afternoon and rented some roller skates and got on the track. What an experience that was. There were little kids and crazy teenagers EVERYWHERE just whizzing by me. I had to hold my boyfriend’s arm the entire time I was out there. Immediately after that short tippy-tumble skating session, I went straight to Bruised Boutique and bought a freshmeat package which included everything I needed in order to try out. I said to myself “Why not?! If I don’t like it, I’ll sell the skates and gear”. I skated only 3 or 4 times before the 2011 tryouts. At the 2011 tryouts, I was doing drills and things that I’ve never done or even seen someone else do on skates before. I looked like a deer in headlights. It’s really incredible how far I’ve come with my skating; from holding onto my boyfriend for my dear life to skating on my own and applying different skills and techniques that I’ve learned along the way. (No truer words were ever said! -Tiara) Like Bobbi said, I was the one to text her and say LET’S DO THIS! I had no idea she wanted to try out in the past or even owned skates. Going into tryouts with Bobbi by my side was very helpful. She was my rock that day and has been ever since.
You guys had the best attitudes I’ve ever seen in derby. Always positive. Always willing to help out wherever you were needed. It was easy to tell you two were in this for the long haul.
BOBBI: Aww thanks Tiara! It’s easy to be willing to help when you are surrounded by people who are so encouraging and helpful. Everyone made NSO-ing fun — not that we didn’t take it seriously because we did — but you, Jitter, Woody, GoGo, and everyone else made it so much fun. Everyone had a great attitude and wanted to be there which made me want to stick around.
OVIE: Even though I didn’t make it to the next level of freshmeat training, I still had a great feeling about this league. In the email that said I wasn’t considered to advance to training; it stated that I was AWESOME and there were other things that I could help with so I would be part of the league. The email also said that I needed more skating to become more comfortable on my feet. There was no doubt about that. So what did Bobbi and I do? We went to open skate nights! We practiced the skills that we were introduced to in tryouts since they were still fresh in our mind. Sunday nights we hit up Roller Kingdom and Thursday nights we went to Skateland and sometimes Chez Vous. Sunday nights at Roller Kingdom had to be my favorite time to skate. There were NHRD skaters and refs always there skating around; oh, how I envied them! I remember when I was introduced to Woody Yankabitch (NHRD referee) one Sunday night. We got to talking and he asked “why don’t you NSO/ref while you wait for the next round of tryouts?” Bobbi and I took up Woody’s offer and we got to NSO and shadow refs for the 2011 season with the best Zebros ever! We attended freshmeat bootcamp and training and here we are now, skaters for NHRD!
Talk a little about scrimmaging. Are the butterflies gone? Were there any to begin with or were you ready to take on anybody?
BOBBI: Oh there were butterflies! There still are butterflies! The good thing is, once that whistle blows you don’t have time for them anymore, you’re too busy worrying about making holes, getting through holes, trying to avoid people who are coming at you from all directions, and always watching for the girls you really don’t want to hit you by surprise.
OVIE: Oh, scrimmaging! The butterflies are far from gone (I even had butterflies when I was an NSO). Bobbi and I were talking on the phone after a practice last week on our drive home about the scrimmage we just had. (A little background — we call each other after most practices and talk to each other until the first one gets home and has to hang up). See, Bobbi is a beast on the track! She’s a hard hitter and it looks like she’s always out for blood. I’ve even seen her lift those legs of hers OVER blockers in the inside of the track to get past them! WHAAAT?! But back to our phone conversation, I explained to her that I’m a “reserved” skater and it seems like I kind of hold back a little. I over-think in scrimmages and when trying to break through the pack as a jammer that I sometimes don’t get through at all! Major bummer on my part. At our most recent practice, we had to do a positional blocking/recycling exercise. There were 3-4 blockers and 1 jammer. The drill was more about the blockers working on recycling themselves while the jammer tried to break through them. When it was my turn to be the jammer, I started to over-think and wasn’t able to get through the pack. I let my nerves and those stupid butterflies get the best of me. I had to stop after a couple goes and ask my group “HOW DO I GET THROUGH YOU GUYS?!”. My partners showed me some techniques and gave some awesome advice. I used what they told me and what did I do? I got through them… multiple times! I was stoked! After that drill we had a couple jams/scrimmaging scenarios. I volunteered to be the jammer! So what did I do? I forgot about the butterflies and I GOT THROUGH THE PACK MORE THAN ONCE! I think those butterflies will come and go throughout my skating career. If and when they decide to show up, I’ll just need to tell them to take a hike!
You are obviously good friends. How did you meet? What other crazy stuff have you done together besides derby?
BOBBI: Our boyfriends are actually really close friends and have been for years. I met Ovie in a house that was lovingly dubbed “The Manor.” I’m pretty sure she thought I was a huge you-know-what, which I wouldn’t be surprised by because most people think that before they get to know me. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the fact that I’m tall, loud, have absolutely no shame, and am a little blunt. (Bobbi, any girl that can admit they have no shame is KLASSY in my book! -Tiara) One of my funny Bobbi and Ovie stories is about this time we went to a Bruins’ game and this guy just kept yelling about Tampa’s goalie being “GAAAAAAHBAGE,” for those of you who don’t speak Bostonian that would be ‘garbage.’ Anyway, in the second period he started making up his own chants and I started doing what I do best… I started heckling him. I started chanting everything from Filene’s Basement to Necco Wafers and every other New England classic in between. I don’t necessarily know that Mr. Gaaaaaaaaahbage ever caught on but as soon as “Necco Wafers” came out of my mouth Ovie almost peed her pants. On top of all of this, it was Ovie’s goal to get on the Garden HDX screen. Every time a camera came to our section she was standing on seats, waving her arms, making a scene… and it worked, it totally worked. This is why I like her, she makes me feel funny and she also has no shame.
OVIE: As Bobbi said, our boyfriends have been good friends for years. Whenever there were parties and get-togethers, Bobbi and I would both be there but wouldn’t even talk. Can you believe that?! So I’ve known of Bobbi for 8 years and seeing her here and there but never really started up a conversation. My other friend was going to try out with me last January but she got busy with life, as we all do, and it wasn’t a good time for her to take on something like this. I voiced to my boyfriend that I was nervous going into this alone. He mentioned Bobbi (well, Michelle at the time before she turned into her alter-ego of Bobbi Gore). I sent her a message and she got back immediately saying “YES! MY BOYFRIEND BOUGHT ME SKATES LAST YEAR AND I’VE BEEN TELLING MYSELF TO TRY OUT BUT NEVER WENT ALONG WITH IT!”. We got together to go to open skates and got to know each other little by little. Now look at us — we are joined at the hip! She even lets me give her hugs!! Anytime we are together hanging out we are always saying crazy stuff and just enjoying each other! I couldn’t ask for a better derby wife and a longtime friend.
You’ve faced a lot of challenges in the last year. What’s the next hurdle to conquer?
Bobbi: My mental breaks, hands down. I need to remind myself when I’m tired that, yeah you’re tired, but you haven’t puked yet so you can obviously push more. When I think I had an awful night I need to make sure to think, yeah so you fell what feels like a gazillion times, but you know what? You got up faster than you ever have before. When I’m standing next to any of the vets I need to get my game face on and at least tell myself “You know what Bobbi? You’re going to handle this jam like a boss.” Because I’ve realized that if I think anything other than this I’m just setting myself up for defeat.
OVIE: There are probably a 100 hurdles I want to conquer this year! My top two challenges are becoming a jammer and finding my aggression. I’ve always visualized myself as a jammer even before I started skating. Don’t get me wrong, blocking is great but I want to be that girl on the track passing through everyone scoring mega points! I’ve had some successes and some personal let downs with jamming. I try not to be hard on myself but it is a little discouraging when you are jamming and you just can’t seem to break through the pack. I just need to keep telling myself that I’m still learning a lot of new things and learning how roller derby is played. I just need to keep pushing myself and stay focused on my goal.
Something that will help me with my goal of becoming a jammer is finding my aggression. This aggression will also help my blocking skills too. A couple months ago during freshmeat training, we were told to do an exercise that I wasn’t quite getting at the time. Our trainer for the night, Madame Scurrie, looked at me and asked “Where is your aggression?”. I replied in a quiet, meek voice “I’ll try and find it”. There are moments when aggression comes over me and I put my game face on. For example during a scrimmage scenario, I was a blocker and Bobbi was the jammer on the opposing team. I could see Bobbi was about to pass me and that’s when adrenaline coursed through my veins. I knew I had to go for it and get her out! I didn’t want her passing me — no way no how! Well, Bobbi ended up passing me and boy was I peeved! I even heard the trainers, who were in the middle of the track say “Did see Ovie’s face when Bobbi passed her?!”. I know some skaters listen to music before bouts, some meditate, and some have other ways of getting in the zone. I need to find my aggression to use it more consistently! I’ll be able to hit girls harder, get through the pack fearlessly, and maybe even intimidate my opponents.
Ovie – In addition to everything else, you’re also a BLOGGER for NHRD. Tell me about it?
OVIE: Yes, I am the newest member of the NHRD bloggers! Pegasister asked me if I wanted to participate in this exciting opportunity. How could I say no to that?! She thought it would be great to have someone’s perspective on what it’s like to be a NSO and now freshmeat/rookie/meatball (as some call us). I’m not the best writer. I don’t use intelligent vocabulary words and my grammar is probably off. (Stop it, Ovie! -Tiara) However, this is going to give me the chance to tell people who I am and about my life as a rookie. My blogs might consist of how I felt after difficult or awesome practices and subjects such as what I’m having problems with skating and even my accomplishments. My blog is going to be great for those who are interested in joining a roller derby team/league. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I personally had to start from the bottom and I’ve have been trying to make it to the top ever since. So look out for my future blogs!
BOBBI: I just want to put this on record… Ovie, I’m so proud of you! You never gave up and you never got upset when I gave you some tough love. I’m super excited that you get to blog because I feel like you’re going to inspire a bunch of new girls to just go out there and get it done. There is no one else I would rather be paired with than you, Ms. Game Ovaries!
I know this is Roller Derby, and we’re supposed to be tough and all that, but this has been one of those times when the people I’m talking to are so sincere and honest that it made me smile throughout. Definitely a “FEEL GOOD” story of the year! NHRD has much love and mad respect for both of you! Good luck!
When you’ve lost sight of your goals (or forgot you should have some.)
Somewhere, somehow, I’ve managed to fall off the horse…And at this point it feels like the horse kept running and now is out of sight.
This is a post about goals. It’s probably the most overdone topic in derby blogging, so I apologize in advance for my lack in creative topic choice. But, it’s what’s been on my brain for the past two months, and it’s what’s kept me from writing something else. Bear with me.
Those who know me and those who’ve read my previous posts know how much I love derby, how much it’s changed my life, and how much focus, energy, and enthusiasm I pour into it. It is literally my driving force, the only thing I’ve ever really cared about in this way, and the thing that’s made me most proud of myself for doing in all my life. (I’ve been called “neurotic” in regards to my relationship to derby; Somehow that was the ultimate compliment in my book.) But lately things have changed. The honeymoon of my rookie year has ended, and I’m left feeling, well, feeling pretty darn lost. I think of myself right now as one of those wind-up toys that are a pair of chattering teeth with feet that clickity clack around when set down. It’s absurd, makes no sense, has no direction, and is ultimately forgotten eventually in a drawer somewhere. That’s how I feel. Well, minus the drawer part. Derby presently feels obligatory, tiring, and has lost its excitement. I know I love this, but I’m not loving it right now. What’s causing this, and what the heck do I do to get out of the gutter here? I want the old Arrow back, the one who managed to skate 5 days a week. The Arrow who posted hundreds of posts on the forums every month. The Arrow who said “this is worth it” every single time that she skated. Where did she go?
Some would say that it’s burnout and that I need to take a break, but I actually think it’s the exact opposite: I think I need to skate more. But I think the issue is more specific than that; I need to skate with a purpose. I need a big-picture goal. Sure, learning to turn in my non-dominant direction is a current (and impossible-seeming!) goal, but what is it that I’m working towards ultimately? When I was a potential freshmeat preparing to try out, learning to skate was my goal. When I got onto a league, becoming good enough to be teamed was my goal. And throughout my rookie year I had all kinds of other goals, mostly around not dying on the track and minimizing how much of a doofus I looked like in public venues. (I remember feeling like I’d accomplished something huge when, towards the end of the season, I starting seeing bout photos of myself where I was **doing something** …you know, besides just skating in a circle.) This fall my goal in the off-season was to train up freshies well enough so that they could play roller derby, too. Through an insane amount of sacrifice and dedication, I’ve met these big-picture goals and then some. The amount of smaller goals I’ve accomplished is staggering. It’s been amazing to watch hard work pay off; I’ve never seen such evidence that it does than in my own derby career. And while I may not ever be again willing to maintain the level of absolute mania that was required to get me through my first year on skates, it never occurred to me that I’d suddenly get lazy because I hadn’t realized that I need to be working towards something. Who knew?
In January I did something awesome- I flew to Texas, by myself, to attend a three-day clinic run by DeRanged, Psycho Babble, Ecko, and Hockey Honey.
I knew getting to train with a bunch world-class athletes was going to be intimidating but amazing. And it was both of those things! But the thing that has affected me most wasn’t the skating, actually. It was one story Ecko told during an off-skates session. This story has absolutely haunted me ever since; I think of it every day. She was telling the group about the importance of having goals and realizing what you need to do, what sacrifices you need to make, to reach those goals. She explained that Pikes Peak Derby Dames are practically down the street from where she lives, but that she, DeRanged, and Psychobabble all carpool 1.5 hours to practice and 1.5 hours home in order to skate with Rocky Mountain because their goal is to play at a nationally competitive level; their local league can’t provide that. It was the first time since I started skating that I realized I don’t know what my goals are. And without a clear idea of what my goals are, how will I know if I am working towards meeting them? Roller derby existential crisis, begin.
I never had considered that I’d ever need a goal grander than just playing roller derby in the first place; Now I’d been doing that for a year. What do you do when you’ve worked really REALLY REALLY hard for something and then you achieve it? What is next after that? I’ve been actually literally driving the 1.5 hours myself, from home to practice, for the past year in order to meet my roller derby goals…but now I don’t have a goal, and without that, my sacrifices aren’t clearly reasonable anymore. Suddenly I feel lost, displaced. I’ve watched my horse gallop toward the horizon.
Knowing that I need goals has been the first step in pulling them into focus. I’ve been working really hard at thinking through what kind of athlete I aim to be in six months. In 12 months. In 2 years. I’m asking myself what I’m willing to do to get there. It’s a difficult project if you do it right, but I am convinced there is no better life than one full of impossible, immense, and lofty goals. Make them.
Ask yourself: What is my 1.5 hours? How far am I willing to go? How much am I willing to do? What is worth it to me? If the answers are easy, then you’re asking yourself the wrong questions.
Surround yourself with people that will hear you state your goals aloud, will support you in your decisions, and will hold you accountable for your own progress. You may find that roller derby fits differently into your life now that it did before; that doesn’t mean it has no place. I may never want to skate 5 days a week again, and that’s OK. I need to evaluate what DOES work for me. Re-imagine derby’s place in my life, in accordance with my goals. I know I can figure out how to make my life work with all the pieces I want included in it. It is possible.
I will not accept that I’ve stopped loving the thing that I love best; I am working to find a way to get that love back. I’m sure with roller derby that means working harder, working more, working differently.
I am currently mapping my route. I no longer feel like I’m directionless, chattering, wind-up teeth with feet. I am navigating, but I am not lost; I’m absolutely on my way.
If you’ve fallen off and can no longer see your horse, then run in the direction in which you last saw him. Don’t give up or get lazy. Keep your legs moving and your gaze firmly fixed on the horizon; You will eventually catch that horse.