I survived my First Roller Derby Scrimmage!

Back in April, our beginning (red) and intermediate (yellow) skaters (collectively called “special sauce”) was given the opportunity to scrimmage for the first time.  Sure, we’d done scrimmage scenarios in the past, but never back to back to back to back (you get the idea) jams with teams and scoring and real refs and what not.  It was all very exciting!  Especially since some of the newer skaters had only been there for a couple of practices, and I would’ve been immobilized with terror if I had been them.  But everyone played very enthusiastically, and we all learned a lot!  And, no one was injured, so bonus!

Even though this scrimmage was in April, I wanted to post some pictures and video here now because I’ve been pretty hard on myself lately when it comes to derby-land, and I wanted to give myself the opportunity to revisit a derby event that was fun and rewarding for me.  I’m not a great skater.  I block my own teammates (whoops!) and I’m about as slow as a turtle, but I’ve improved a lot in the year I’ve been skating.  And I will get better if I keep working at it.  Here are some pictures of the scrimmage, so you can visualize what it was all about.

Now, are you ready to see the actual video footage???  Ah, take a deep breath (and I’m saying this to myself before I actually watch this) and hit play!  This video is long, but don’t worry – my epic jam is the first one in the video so you don’t have to watch the whole thing (unless you want to).  I’m wearing the black leggings with the silver shorts, and you’ll also notice that I’m wearing the black jammer cap with the silver star on the side.  That means I get to score points!  I immediately made it through the pack, then again on my second pass.  Trouble Axel, my jam coach, just kept telling me to keep going since the other jammer hadn’t even made it through the pack yet.  It felt like I went around the track and through the pack like five times, but on my third attempt at getting through the pack, I neglected to slow down as I skated right into them and got a back-block penalty, which sent me to the penalty box.  BOOOOOOO!!!  Ok, so maybe I deserved it.  But still, I scored some points for my team, which happens every time the jammer passes a player on the opposite team.

Scrimmaging was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to doing it again sometime, and in the future, I will try to NOT block my own jammer or take her down.  Let’s just work on that.  But it’s like I see that jammer cap and I go completely mental…oops, sorry team.  Oh well…it happens to…everyone…???

WHEN YOU BLOCK YOUR OWN JAMMER:

I think I might be stupid

Related posts:  …And in National Roller Derby News…, Why Can’t I Quit You, Roller Derby?, Getting Beat Up by the Roller Derby Blues

Getting Beat Up by the Roller Derby Blues

Photo by montanafreshe (Ebay)

Photo by montanafreshe (Ebay)

You know how when you ask someone “why do you blog” they say “to get shit off my chest” or “to work things out” or “because I am just a sad sad sad person who needs to feel sorry for myself in a public forum”?  Well, tonight I am that kind of person.  I hate writing these kinds of posts, really I do, but I’m really struggling and I’m hoping that someone out there can either 1) give me some sound advice, or 2) slap me upside the head and tell me to pull my skate laces up and be a big girl.  Or maybe both.  I don’t know.

So yeah, about roller derby.  I’ve been busy (full time job, school, volunteering), and I have told my coaches and some of the Board members that I’ve had to cut back on my attendance, volunteer hours, meetings and all that stuff.  Initially, that helped me restore a little balance in my life and relieve some of the emotional investment I’d been making in derby.  I’ve been trying to go to two on-skates practices a week, but lately, it has been harder and harder to go, and I’ve been dropping down to one practice a week, or no practices (uh, like where I should be right now).  There are many reasons why, and I’m trying to sort them out.  Among them:

  • Instead of feeling invincible, I’m feeling invisible.  I’ve been skating for over a year now and I still don’t know who my people are.  I don’t know who to hang out with at practices or at events.  I always feel awkward when I try to join in with a small group of people having a chat after practice, for example.  There are plenty of ladies I like in the league, but it feels like everyone has their set of friends and doesn’t need another one.  This awkwardness has resulted in me not going to our league’s events (skating or social), which I realize does nothing good for helping me to find my people.
  • My skating has improved A LOT in the past year.  However, I’m feeling pretty fucking defeated by my skills (or lack thereof).  It seems like I will never get my 27 in five; in fact, I’ve gotten worse over the past few months, going gradually from 24 laps to 21.5 laps.  WTF?  My cross-overs are getting stronger and I’m trying to skate the diamond more, but I’m just as slow as a turtle.  In fact, this has been bringing me down to the point where I get really nervous to do the 27 in 5 (or the 50 lap killer, for that matter).  This anxiety does nothing for making me want to go to practice.  And, like my point above, I recognize that if I keep skipping practices, my skills will never improve.
  • Related to the above, it seems like I’ll never get to the point where I’m cleared for bouting.  I’ve only scrimmaged once – it was awesome, but the beginning and intermediate skaters are not given very much opportunity to do that in our league.  So what’s the point?  It feels like I’ll never get “good enough” to play, so why do I put myself through the anxiety and stress of practices and meeting all the requirements for leveling up?
I'm in the penalty box during my first scrimmage.

I’m in the penalty box during my first scrimmage.

Whine, whine, whine.  It’s easy for me to be super hard on myself, which is always self-defeating.  I do have depression and anxiety issues, for which I’ve been getting treatment for a number of years now, and roller derby easily triggers so many of my issues.  Yet there are so many things I love about derby as well.  I want to improve, and I’m happy that I’ve gotten better over the past year.  I really do like the people in my league, but I don’t know where I fit in, which makes me feel like a big freak.  I want to be involved, but when I was more involved, it was just so stressful (for a few reasons that I’ve not listed above, like league politics and requirements, etc.).

Is it time for me to quit?  I think about this every day.  I don’t want to give up, but I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread.  I’ve invested so much of myself in roller derby, but I need some support and I just don’t know where to get it, hence this sad, whiny post.  Any advice or ass-kicking would be much appreciated.

Love,
Gritty Cat (a.k.a, Marci)

Related post:  Why Can’t I Quit You, Roller Derby?

Ladies I Love: S is for the Amazing SCALD EAGLE, My Roller Derby Super Crush!

Scald Eagle by Your Sunday BestI am Super Stoked to write today’s “S” post for the A to Z Challenge!  Today’s Lady I Love is the magical Scald Eagle, or Hillary Buscovick, as the non-roller derby world knows her.  But for those of us who play roller derby, Scald Eagle is probably at the top of most of our derby crush lists!  Scald Eagle plays for the Rose City Rollers, a league out of Portland, Oregon.  There are four “regular” teams in the league, and she plays on Guns N’ Rollers.  In addition to that, she’s on the Rose City Rollers’ all-star travel team, Wheels of Justice.  AND, in addition to THAT, she’s on freakin’ TEAM USA, a collection of 32 of the best derby players from across the United States.  So Scald Eagle is definitely the cream of the crop, y’all!  Team USA will compete with other derby teams from all over the world this December in Dallas for the Blood and Thunder Roller Derby World Cup…an event NOT to be missed by anyone remotely interested in derby!

Click to enlarge!

Click to enlarge!

But let’s get back to Scald Eagle.  Below is a short video taken from Team USA’s Stars vs. Stripes Exhibition Bout just this past February.  Now, if you don’t know anything about how modern roller derby is played, I’m going to give you the very basics; otherwise, the video might look like chaos.  But there’s a surprising amount of skill and strategy involved in derby, which I hope will become clear in a minute.  First, a bout (or game) is divided into two periods, each made up of several jams that can go on for a maximum of two minutes.  There are two teams, and each team has five players.  Each team has one jammer, and the rest of the players are blockers.  The jammers are the only ones who score points, and they do this by passing members of the opposite team (so if the jammer passes all members of the opposite team, that’s five points).  The 8 blockers make up the pack, which has to stay together on the track.  Members of the pack are trying to block the opposite team’s jammer from getting through the pack and scoring points, while at the same time, moving the other team’s blockers out of the way so that their own jammer can get through and score points.  So you can see where this can get complicated!!!

Scald Eagle by John Wijsman

So in this exhibition video, you’ll see Scald Eagle do her magic; she’s number 50, and is wearing a white jersey and white helmet with a star on the side.  The star on her helmet means that she’s her team’s jammer.  Watch as she easily passes through the other team’s blockers, almost as if she’s invisible to them!  And remember, this is not easy.  This is Team USA here, and still, Scald Eagle flies through like it’s nothing!  Check it out:

I also found this older interview (from 2011, I think) of Hillary talking about what it’s like to play derby.  She seems down-to-earth, goofy and modest.  And she was just this way when she guest-coached my league, the Storm City Roller Girls, a few months ago!  I remember her saying something to me, but honestly, I don’t know what it was because I think I was just completely star-struck (and I know I wasn’t the only one).  She was an amazing coach, but the thing I remember the most from her was that she seemed so nice and authentic…I can’t imagine her playing dirty or being anything other than upstanding…she seems to have a lot of integrity!  It’s no wonder she’s a hero in the derby world!

Ladies I Love: D is for Drew Barrymore, because I’m a Drewbie!

Ten reasons why I love Drew Barrymore

Today’s A to Z Challenge post is brought to you by the letter D!  I know it’s kind of silly, but I’ve had a girl crush on Drew Barrymore for as long as I can remember.  She’s only a year younger than me, and I’ve always admired her because she seems like a real person – she’s definitely had her ups and downs, and even though she’s Hollywood Royalty, she doesn’t take herself too seriously.  She’s not afraid to be dorky or play real people in her movies, people who aren’t always beautiful and perfect.  I don’t know – maybe I’m projecting my admiration onto someone without really knowing who they are, but from what I see, I’m proud to be a Drewbie!  Here are only ten of the many reasons why I love Drew Barrymore:

  1. Drew is a great sport, and seems to be without the Hollywood snobbery that many movie stars are afflicted with.  Watch My Date with Drew, a documentary produced by a guy with a huge crush on her, who has one goal: a date with Drew Barrymore.
  2. Drew is the godmother of Frances Bean Cobain, the daughter of the late Kurt Cobain and his wife Courtney Love.
  3. Drew is the youngest person to have ever hosted “Saturday Night Live”; she was only 7 years old at the time!  She then went on to host SNL five more times.
  4. Drew (born Feb. 22, 1975) and I (born Feb. 25, 1974) are both Pisces, the best astrological sign to be.
  5. Drew doesn’t seem to care about being dorky, and even makes being dorky awesome.
  6. Battling world hunger has been an important cause for Drew in the last several years.  In 2008, Drew donated $1 million to fund the Word Food Programme’s school food projects in Kenya.
  7. Drew is undoubtedly beautiful, but in many ways, she doesn’t embody the typical Hollywood beauty standard of being impossibly thin with perfect features.  Yet she was crowned the No. 1 Most Beautiful in People Magazine’s annual “100 Most Beautiful People” list in April 2007.
  8. Drew’s struggles during her childhood were very public when it came to drinking, drugs, addiction, family instability, and recovery.  She survived a lot of turmoil and came out on top, writing a book (“Little Girl Lost“) about her challenges at a young age, then continuing on to have a very successful career in film and directing with her own production company, Flower Films.
  9. Drew is an animal lover!  She has been a strong supporter of the work of Southern California’s Wildlife Waystation.
  10. Perhaps the number one reason I love Drew Barrymore (even though this is listed as No. 10) is because she’s a fan of roller derby, as evidenced by the fact that she made her directorial debut with the movie “Whip It” and even did a lot of her own skating for the film!

Why Can’t I Quit You, Roller Derby?

Ok, right up front, I am telling you that I’m NOT quitting roller derby.  However, the last couple months have been tough.  For various reasons, I’ve considered hanging up my skates, even though I’ve only been skating for not quite a year (it will be a year at the end of April, so that’s close enough for government work, right?).  I’ve certainly seen other ladies come and go in the league over that short period of time, I’ve come to terms with my social anxiety issues (well, I’m working on them…), and I’ve made a few friends (just fyi, I’m a horrible friend, so if you’re reading this, I’m sorry you’re my friend, but I love you anyway so you’ll just have to put up with my horribleness).  I’ve survived a year’s worth of derby drama (what? Roller derby drama?  No way!!!), and I’ve worked really hard on my skating skills (I advanced from the red to yellow skill level – hooray!).  I feel like derby has changed my life.  But, and this is the part that is hard to admit, derby is not my life.

I’ve read so much about women who’s “souls were saved by roller derby”, and who just won’t give up for anything, no matter what the pain, what the circumstances, what the obstacle.  It’s hard for me to admit that I am not like these women, although I think that when I started derby a year ago I wanted to be…and in that respect, that’s where I feel like I have failed.  I have started feeling like a slacker in the derby girl department.

Don’t get me wrong – I love skating, I’ve seen personal growth, and have made some achievements I’m proud of.  But I’ve come to the conclusion that being a competitive derby skater is probably not sustainable for me at this point in my life; the work-life-derby balance is way off.  I just turned 40, am going back to school, have a stressful 40+ hour a week job, and I don’t have the time to beat myself up about not making attendance, volunteer hours, all the meetings, and any other requirements it takes for skaters to become green-level and bout-cleared.  And if I’m really being honest, even if I continued busting my ass to make all those requirements, I’m not sure I’ll ever be green and bout-cleared; I’m just not sure I will ever achieve that skill level.

But here’s the thing – I can’t quit derby.  I love skating too much, and it’s really most of the exercise I get.  I love the camaraderie.  I love how supportive the women in our league can be.  My assistant coach, Next of Ken, has been my personal cheerleader and has helped me achieve so much growth and success.  But if I go to drop-in status, I feel like I’ll lose a lot of those things that I love about derby.  So my compromise: I will still be a dues-paying member and will do my best to attend all the on-skates practices (and off-skates and meetings when I can).  I will have to accept the fact that I probably won’t make my attendance and volunteer hour requirements for the time being.  But I hope to stay connected with the ladies in the league that I have grown to know and love.  I’ve talked with my coaches and the BOD about my situation, and they seem supportive and understanding, and for that I am very thankful.

Frisky Sour recently posted on her blog an article called “Quitting Roller Derby“.  Her last paragraph really hit home for me:

People pop in and out of retirement all the time. Roller derby isn’t going anywhere. It’ll hold while you go have a baby,  finish your degree, catch up on your Netflix, learn to make beer, or spend a year in Budapest – whatever it is that’s calling to you.  There’s a whole, big, beautiful world out there. Roller derby definitely exposed me to a number of experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise, but it prevented me from experiencing a lot, too. There’s only so much time in your life. Do what you want to do. — Frisky Sour

I’m not heading towards retirement yet (heck – I haven’t even really busted my scrimmage cherry!), and I’m not quitting.  At this point, I’m happy that I’ve gotten to experience roller derby – it was on my list of things to do.  But there are other things I want to do too, things that I have to do.  I just have to recognize that it doesn’t mean I love derby any less, or that it hasn’t made a positive impact on my life, or that it won’t continue being a positive force in my life into the future.  Because I’m still skating, and getting up when I fall…and for now, that will have to be enough.

New Roller Derby Rules Roundup: WTF???

Oh, duuuuude!  Just when I thought everything was getting squared away – I’m checking off my Minimum Skill Requirements (I leveled up from red to yellow!), got 24 laps in 5 minutes (on my way to 27 in 5!), and missed only ONE answer on my WFTDA written test (and that’s up for debate, really) – they had to do it.  Starting April 1, the new WFTDA rules go into effect.  Wait?!?  What new rules???  Well, unlike me, YOU’RE not going to worry about it too much, because I’ve been doing some homework for you.  I’ve scoured the Interwebs and found some resources for you to help answer all the necessary questions you’re sure to be asking yourselves right now  (e.g., 30-second penalties?  Flopping?  Single point of transfer for star passes?). So are you ready to put your learning panties on over your helmet?  Good!  Head on over to these sites to get all the details about the new rules:

But if you want to know what people are saying about the rules changes – whether they like them or not and how they are changing the game, check out these blogs:

Ahhhhh.  Now that my panic attack about the new rules is over, I hope that we can just all calm down a bit.  It’s not really that big a deal, right?  Cool.  I’m going to grab a white Russian and watch The Big Lebowski.  Again.  And while I’m at it, why don’t YOU leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the new rules?  Thanks!

Taking Bets Now: How Long Will I Last in the 30-Day Ab Challenge?

Recently, several of the ladies in my roller derby league (the Storm City Roller Girls) have been doing 30-day fitness challenges. Last month it was squats.  This month: the 30-day Ab Challenge.  To be sure, off-skates strength and endurance training are an important component of being physically fit and will make you a more successful skater for your team.  So why did I join this month’s challenge?  It sure wasn’t because I love situps.  Maybe it was the camaraderie?  A temporary moment of delusion and hope?  I can’t figure it out.

Anyway, here is the challenge.  Today is March 3.  My 30-Day Ab Challenge to YOU is this:  successfully guess how long I last in the challenge, and you will win a prize.  The prize will most likely be a virtual box of kittens (all the cute, none of the poop).

Some things to consider:

  1. It’s day three in the challenge, and I had to do days 1 and 2 (in addition to day 3) today.  I might not be the most dedicated person taking part in this challenge.
  2. I might be somewhat pessimistic about this challenge.  In fact, I might have to call shenanigans on this whole thing.  Because if I make it to the end of the month and my abs don’t look like the ones pictured in the challenge, I will be crushed.  Someone will have to pay for my lost time and dashed hopes.
  3. This is generally how I feel when I do situps.  I’m the one on the right:

So join in the fun and maybe win a box of [virtual] kittens!  Leave a comment with the date you think I will get to in the challenge; i.e., if you tell me that I will last through the 10th, the 10th will be the last day I actually do the exercises.  Rest days don’t count – pick a day with actual exercise.  And because I can be somewhat sporadic, but still in it, I will keep track and let you know at the end of the month how far I got into the challenge.  Ready?  Go!!!