Posts Tagged ‘derby’

Back on the Wheels!

Okay, I did it. After 3 months, I put the skates back on Sunday. (Well, if we’re being truthful, I put them on Friday and rolled around my kitchen – SHHH.) And you know what – I didn’t forget how to skate! It’s unbelievable!!

True, I was just as unwilling to turn right as I always am, but hey. I skated consistently instead of my default all-eight-wheels-on-the-ground position (which is what I do when I’m scared/tired/exhausted and need to reset). And we went around the 1.3 mile track 4 times – impressive when I think about how when I was training to try out for derby, some days I could barely go around twice. ‘Course, I was skating with a friend who just recovered from dislocating her knee and she was keeping up with me fine … and I ran into another former rollergirl who was whizzing around the track way more times, wearing way less padding … maybe I shouldn’t pat myself on the back too hard.

But – skating! Yay! Something I can still do!


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I miss derby. I’ve been avoiding it a bit at the moment, mainly because I hate not being part of it and knowing that I won’t have time for it for a little while. Still … all the skating and fun and fitness and outfits and FRIENDS … I miss them so!

Last night my lovely former teammates the Junkyard Dolls were modeling at Dr. Sketchy’s, so I got to have a happy fun arty reunion with them. Here are my sketches …

Left-Handed Five Minute Sketch ... ugh

Team Captain Quickshot Kitty! (5 mins)

My Derby L'il Sis Trixy Le Doom! (5 mins)

Smearin' Off Ice and Adrenaline Junkie (5 mins)

Adrenaline Junkie examining Smearin's Bruise (10 mins)

Quickshot Kitty and Doris Day of Reckoning (10 mins)

Adrenaline Junkie (1/2 of the 20 mins)

Smearin' (1/2 of the 20 mins)

And yes, Smearin’ is wearing a monster bra.

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Weak Sauce

Yes folks, I’m still hibernating. 🙂

Actually, since the off-season began in November, I was going to practice about once a week, and stressing out over not going more than that. Then after having to miss a couple practices in a row, I thought – you know what? Eff this noise. This is the off-season, a time to re-assess and get all my little derby and non-derby duckies in a row, relax, enjoy, get fat, etc. etc. I keep getting trapped between having to miss practice for one reason or another, and then stressing/obsessing over what I missed out on. I did enough of that at the end of last season, so I need to end this trend NOW.

Derby is incredibly demanding and can swallow your whole world up if you let it. For some people, that’s what they want, and that’s awesome. For those of us who are a bit all over the place, want to do EVERYTHING they’re interested in all the time, and forget you need time to work and play and socialize and run errands and work on art projects and work on writing/illustrating books, … it gets a little stressful. So I started to neglect derby. A LOT. And it’s not something you can ignore or take lightly (see above with the swallowing).

I’m not saying you can’t do derby and do other things. That’s what I’m trying to work out at the moment. I just think everything that deserves your attention deserves ALL of it. So if it’s Monday night and you have practice, you go to practice. That time has been allotted for derby. End o’ story. If it’s Tuesday and you could go to practice or catch up on stuff you’ve been neglecting, catch up. And so on. Make time for derby and put all your gusto into it, but treat the rest of your life the same way. I’m trying to think of it as tunnel vision. Or as my multiple personalities kicking in. “Derby Monica can’t hear you right now, unless it’s about Derby. But talk to me after a couple of hours, and Friend Monica or Illustrator Monica might be able to answer your question.”

So in emphasis of this fact, I quit going to practice half-assed in the off-season. I said, I am taking time off, this is the date when I will return. And once I return, I will be newly committed. And until then, I’ll still be exercising and stretching because – oy. Those muscles do disappear fast!

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Add ‘Em Up

… the small victories. The time here when you managed to not fall down when that notorious blocker slammed into you. The time there when you passed someone you’ve never passed before while jamming. The time when you finally figured out what was going on while scrimmaging. The time when you were able to do skate lunges on BOTH legs down the rink (ok … that’s me-specific since my right leg usually gives out on me).

So much of derby is big and bold and fast and in-your-face that it’s easy to forget all the little steps it takes to get better and better at it. Every once and a while you realize you’ve figured something out that hasn’t occurred to you before, or even better – when you do something on instinct that you remember purposefully practicing over and over again. Those are the little, teeny, impressively important small victories you really have to hang on to when you’re in training. I keep forgetting it’s not my job to compare myself to other players, their styles, their skills. I need to keep track of what I’ve actually done and where I need to go. It’s good to selfishly focus on your own improvement during practice so that when you’re out there with your team – you’re thinking of nothing else but them.

And little by little, you’ll see the game start to open up and make sense to you. It will no longer seem like a chaotic mess of limbs when all you’re thinking about is staying alive. Suddenly you can see – “oh hey there’s a jammer in there” and “oh yeah, I need to be playing defense at this particular moment”. The sport will suddenly make sense to you, and that’s the moment when you’ll forget all the frustration it’s taken to get there and realize you are now a part of it and you now belong.

This roller derby is no longer their derby — it’s now your derby too.

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I see a lot of Superman insignias everywhere I go – from people’s bags to shirts to getting them painted on the rear windows of their cars. Why the obsession with Superman? He always seemed so boring to me. Born with amazing abilities that no one can touch. Ho-hum. I never found him terribly relatable. Only when I was obsessed with Smallville did I get invested in what Superman was up to (and I blame that on the allure of Tom Welling). But then I came across Bill’s Superman monologue in Kill Bill Vol. 2, and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and I started to get it.

People who like Superman are the same people who value natural talent and ability. Have they had to train to get to that point? Yeah. But training just adds on to their already natural ability. They’ve got the talent and have discovered what they naturally excel at doing.

So those are the Superman fans. The Batman fans are a different breed – they value technology and smarts above everything else. Weren’t born with natural talent? No problem. They’ll engineer a solution. They put all their stock in not what they already can do, but what they believe they can figure out. They’re crafty, because they’ve had to be. No one gave them anything they didn’t earn.

Both of these types I find can be applied (among other things) to sports. I’ve met both of these types over and over already in derby. The natural talents who, as soon as they make the league, shoot to the top. They don’t understand why other people think it’s hard, and it all just seems to fit. The Supermans. Fans especially love the Supermans – they’re so glossy and amazing and stand out from the pack so easily. It’s hard not to idolize them.  Then there are those who immediately recognize that they aren’t the Supermans, but have the drive and ambition to get as far as fast as they can with their ingenuity. These Batmans are self aware and not plagued with doubt or uncertainty – they can sum up their pluses and minuses and figure out where to put them to their best use.

Where do I find myself in all of this? My own personal superhero role model? Well, the philosophy I’ve found fits best with my “style” in life is the House of HufflePuff in Harry Potter. Of course I always wanted and dreamed of being a Superman. But I’m not. And I’m too plagued with self-consciousness to be a Batman. I’m a HufflePuff – I work hard, I plug away, I slllooowwwwlllyyy and steadily improve. Supermans burn out, Batmans get bored. I keep going.

But I might need something a little more than just recognizing I’m a HufflePuff to keep me motivated and going in derby. Who’s the superhero who has overcome mediocrity and kept plugging away until they’ve succeeded and become amazing? That’s the one I can get behind. That’s the one who’s insignia I want on my car. Even though I work in comics, I’m sadly uneducated in the majority of current superheroes. Recommendations?

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That’s right, I almost forgot!

A year ago I made it into the league and officially became fresh meat. For a while, that was ALL that I wanted. I was all, “Hey, I never have to be better than this, I don’t have to improve at any given rate because I’m IN!!”

Yeah, right – that spirit didn’t last. It took my first assessment to bring out my competitve rage — WHY DOES EVERYONE ELSE RULE AT THIS AND I DON’T?? After that, it was all over. I just had to get better, I had to be on even footing with the others I’d tried out with, I had to get on a team! … 5 months later, after failing every assessment the first time but passing the second, I was drafted one week after my final assessment. Woo hoo!

So what have I learned over the past year? I started out in derby with a fierce desire to get in, get better, get crackin’. That was all I wanted, and I was convince my heart and my life had plenty of room for derby. I wanted all of its goodness, just for me. I approached each practice like my skills and potential were “on hold” so I wouldn’t get too discouraged. “So what if I suck at all of these drills?” I’d tell myself. I’d get better, so there was no use worrying about it in the meantime. SURVIVAL, that’s all I wanted. Survival, and not to look like a complete ass. As long as I’m not the worst, and I don’t let myself get too frustrated, I’m fine.

That motivation worked for a little while, then came scrimmage time. Until I was eligible to scrimmage, my freshie group and I spent scrimmage nights working on basics in a corner of the rink while the big girls got to duke it out in the main space. For 5 consecutive weeks, someone got seriously injured at each and every one of those scrimmage practices that we witnessed. Each injury guaranteed that that particular skater would be off the league and in recovery for a WHILE. So my fellow freshies and I watched, terrified, dreading the time our chance to scrimmage came about. When it finally did, it was a clusterfuck. Limbs flying everywhere. But I was shocked to discover that I lived, and didn’t break anything, and actually got back up after being knocked down. Crazy!

Bouting came next, and that’s where the real nerves set in. There was just something about ALL of those people watching, friends and family seeing,  … the public viewing of my skills that instantly turned my legs to jelly and my nerves to mush. I just let myself get beat on over and over, hoping that I’d at least walk away from the bout. It was always fun seeing the look of horror on my parents’ faces as I was knocked for a loop right in front of their seats.

After I had a couple bouts under my belt, my work situation changed and long hours were required. I was able to attend practice less and less. Friends of mine in the league stopped going or quit altogether. I had one more bout and then my season was over – I still had to attend practice and keep my skills up, but it was hard to get motivated. A new crop of fresh meat came in, all eager and shiny and new, and I faded into the background. Not an experienced vet, not a shiny new meatie. More commitments and work piled up, I found practices inconvenient and scrimmages discouraging, and I seriously wondered how long I should play at this derby thing when I could risk breaking my wrist (aka my livelihood) every time I got out on the track. I wasn’t that fast, I wasn’t that agile, I can’t block for shit, and the most I’ve ever been able to do is get in someone else’s way. My team barely sees each other, more people I love are leaving, should I keep doing this?

I didn’t have to mull it over for too long before I decided – yes. Of course, I should keep doing this. As terrifying and discouraging and frustrating and inconvenient and demanding as derby is, it’s worth it. You won’t know if you truly love something unless you put that much work into it. It’s never going to be easy, but it is going to be fun and challenging and the feeling you get when you realize you’ve gotten a little bit better is oh-so-encouraging. As far as I’m concerned, the only thing I really need to manage is my attitude – this is fun. I LOVE this. I love the people and the rules and the community and everything involved. All the negativity I see is only coming from myself.

So yeah – droning on here, but after a year I think I’m allowed to look back and analyze stuff. Yay derby. Our relationship is in its sophomore year. 🙂

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It’s hard getting my groove back – I have no idea how Stella did it. I’m still hiding from scrimmage practice. I have bad memories from the last time I went, got my ass kicked, felt horribly embarrassed, and had trouble breathing. It’s so stupid, because it’s mainly mental. I’m just getting back into regular practices and scrimmage just doesn’t seem right until I’ve had a few good ones under my belt. I’m not sure what the deal is – I love practice, and I love how much I’ve improved. True, a lot of people I care about have dropped off of the derby landscape, especially recently. I think that goes a long way towards motivating me. When you feel like a little lone island in a sea of girls with much better skills than you, it’s hard to amp yourself up. I love the challenge, but I let myself think too much about everything and it cripples me.

This week my mindset is MUCH better. Practice with eager skatertots last weekend helped a lot. I forgot about the FUN part of derby! … except, of course, when one girl broke her ankle in three places. Just from doing a turn-around-toe-stop. Yikes. That was the second time I’d seen a new skater topple over and break their ankle. Two times two many. Skating isn’t a joke, people. The weird thing is I would never have had the guts to try a turn-around-toe-stop at high speeds when I was just starting (*ahem* . . . still don’t). I love that this girl had the no guts no glory part down. Sometimes I think that makes the best skaters – I’m so cautious at times it really hampers my improvement.

Balls out is the way to be?

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