February 24, 2015

Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight

So, let’s start at the beginning and how I found derby.  In October of 2013 I moved to this lovely little town in Northern Colorado, Fort Collins.  A large group of my family lived here, so I had visited frequently throughout my life.  My husband and I finally made the decision to move after we had gotten married back in May of 2013.

We have a young son, Cyrus, who is absolutely amazing.  We had spent the majority of our time just being a family after we had initially moved Fort Collins.  My husband, Ryan, was working a lot and I worked from home, so by the time he got home we just wanted to hang out and be together.

Although we all thoroughly enjoyed all the family time, we were both beginning to realize “Hey, making friends would be nice!” Ryan had it a little easier since he worked in an office full of people with similar interests.  However, with me working from home the only time I really had much adult, human interaction was when I would take Cyrus to the park or a local indoor play area here in town.

Around December of 2013 my cousin, Mollytov Maguire, planted the derby seed. I struggled with the idea of playing derby because I couldn’t imagine paying money to go get injured. I mean, who in their right mind wants to willingly join a group of people where the goal is to hit each other? No one, thats who! This idea of derby would change dramatically when I actually started.

I attended the New recruits meeting in January 2014, and thus my derby journey began. Now onto the good stuff!

My very first practice, literally within about 5 minutes, one of the ladies in my new recruits class fell and broke her back.  I not only felt horrible for that woman, but was also mentally preparing myself for me to be next.

That first practice was rough.  I had never really skated, and have not been known for my grace.  In fact, my family has an on going joke about the multiple injuries I have received doing what would seem simple for most.  I was driving home after the first practice almost in tears, and strongly considering if I would go back.

I went back (call me a glutton for punishment).  This practice was slightly different, as all the new recruits were also in the same area as the vets.  Watching them skate around like majestic roller skating beauties was so intimidating, but also became a source of something to strive for.  I now saw what all these hard times, and rough practices, and those feelings of being completely lost would amount to.

After several months of practices, a few injuries (nothing severe), and meeting my derby wife, Misfit Millie, I was still struggling with so much doubt about my abilities in this sport.  Most nights I left practice feeling defeated, and that I would never become a viable member of the league.  Those feelings began to eat away at me so much that I could barely make myself go to practice, and ultimately lead to me taking a 2 month hiatus from derby and telling everyone it just wasn’t for me.

And you know what, that is okay.  I mean, it was not okay for me not to listen to all of the amazingly supportive teammates who were telling me I was doing just fine, or that they had been there before, and had literally felt the same things.  It was not okay for me to feel that I had no one to really reach out to about these things, because I had so many amazing ladies I could have talked to before my internal struggle reached that point.  But it was okay for me to take a break.  This was my journey, and they were my feelings and I needed the time to process all of this.

During my break from derby I realized how much I really did love it, and how accomplished it had actually been making me feel.  All of those hard nights, and rough emotions were teaching me how to persevere and to remain determined even when I was not the best at everything.  It gave me time to realize that I had been focusing on the wrong feelings, and that I needed to shift my focus. I began to think of all the times that I felt so proud of myself.  That time I understood sculling so fast, and really seemed to have a knack for it. Oh, and that other time I helped keep all the other ladies in my new recruits class from feeling discouraged. Oh, and that other time I met one of my now best friends! These were all the things I needed to look at, because we make our own happiness.  We create our reality, and I was tired of living in a reality where I was so miserable.

I came back to derby in October of 2014.  I have since passed my 27 laps in 5 minutes (whilst conveying every human emotion possible in that time frame.) I have moved up to Monday practices with the league, I have even had 3 Thursday night scrimmages with the league. Sure, there have been some rough nights, but that is life, and that is not where I am going to shift my focus.

I may fall, but I have promised myself that I will always get back up, and will no longer allow myself to keep me down.  I have also promised myself that I will always try to think of the positives derby brings to my life.  I have made some friends, and get to hang out with some truly amazing women that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get to know otherwise.

I am so grateful for everything that roller derby had brought to my life, and how much more I know it will bring me.


February 13, 2015

She's Baaack!

At the stoniest of henges,
Wow, it's been a long time since I last poured my little derby heart out on the 'ole FoCo blog... I have missed it. Sort of. Its also been really nice to have a break from the pressure. Since my last post, a lot has changed. I took a break from derby, I stepped down as Head of PR, and I had some serious travel adventures. As of January 2015, I am back on skates, have completed the WFTDA testing once again (28 laps in 5 minutes, yeah buddy!), and I am getting ready to come back to scrimmage.

It's weird having been away from the league for so long. I was off skates from August 2014 to January 2015. I missed the workout, I missed my friends, I missed the derbs, but coming back, it's not the same. I don't know what I expected, but I feel like I don't fit in with the new recruits I have been skating with and the relationships I have with the veterans seem to feel different.

League Campout 2014 - My last derby
event before I left for 4 months
The logical part of my brain is like "But Molly, did you expect your team to stop growing and changing while you were gone?" and I guess, subconciously, I kinda did. I didn't expect to feel like such an outsider, I can tell you that. I feel like I am neither vet nor fresh meat. Not part of the league, but more than a fan. I feel like I have one skate in derby and one skate out.

Another weird thing about being away from derby for so long, was introducing myself with my derby name again. The first time I said "My name is Mollytov Maguire but you can call me Molly!" I stuttered over the "Molly" a little bit. Like it didn't want to come out of my mouth. There has been lots of stuttering, and not just over my name. Skating, aching, going to 9pm practices, being AMPED THE EFF UP after them until 2 am, and getting less than 3 hours of sleep after derby nights, feeling the hunger of having burned 1500 calories at practice the night before; all are things that I had sort of romanticized. "Ah, the good 'ole days, when my muscles hurt all the time and I was eating all the food and enjoying after derby beer club, and I was part of something bigger than me! Golly wasn't that the best?!" but I had forgotten what it was like to have to make those friends and be in better physical shape. To have the pre-practice derby anxiety, and to have my shins hurt SO BAD that I almost cry. These are the things that I am LIVING once again, and it's not as romantic as I had made it out to be while I was gone.

When I could backward skate...
My skills and endurance have seriously atrophied and that is a real blow to the ego. I feel a little like the classic "Facebook Derby Girl" right now. She's the girl who wants to do derby so she can post about it on Facebook, but where is she when practice time comes? In my case, she is dreading going back to a practice where she feels more alone than when she is alone. Where her expectations of her skills and the reality of her skills are no longer aligned.

What I am working on remembering is that these people, who I love, didn't just stop existing when I wasn't looking at them. They developed new relationships and inside jokes while I was away, and now it's me that has to adjust to being back, not the other way around. There is still a place for me in the league and it's up to me to find it. Just like it has always been up to me. Everything about my derby life has always been up to me.

Derby Love,

Mollytov Maguire

February 6, 2015

In Her Own Words: LA's Finest

 Hello. My name is Tess and I play the wonderful sport of roller derby with the FoCo Girls Gone Derby here in Fort Collins, CO. This league of amazing individuals has changed my life.

 I moved to Colorado six years ago with no direction or purpose. I was born and raised in Los Angeles California and decided that I didn't want to raise my son in a giant loud city.  My best friend and I decided one night we were going to take a chance and move to Fort Collins.  We packed whatever we could fit into a Toyota Corolla and started driving.  Not knowing anybody I settled in and got a job but, for me something was still missing. I'm not super outgoing so finding friends out of nowhere was pretty tough.

 One night I rented the roller derby movie "Whip It". I went to work the next day and was talking about the movie with a coworker.   We liked the movie and loved the idea of roller derby. One of us jokingly told the other, “I’ll try it if you do". We looked up local roller derby and promised each other to give it a shot and stick together. About a month later we were at our first new recruit practice together and fell IN LOVE with this sport but, learned very quickly it was nothing like the movie, "Whip It", but better!

 Time came to pick our derby names. It's a lot harder than you think picking a derby name.  Some of the good ones are taken!  For my derby name I stuck to my roots where I grew up, "LA's Finest".  My friend went with her favorite band (I am convinced she is their biggest fan) Miss Erie Business.  She's one of the best friends I have ever met in derby and the dedication she gives to this sport shows on the track.  Over five years later, Miz and I are still both skating for this league and even on the same team now!

 Speaking of love and derby...

 In my new recruit class I actually met the most amazing person in this world. No joke, she is now my wife.   We met in FoCo's new recruit class, became friends for about a year or so and started dating. We were just legally married in November and I owe it all to this amazing league for bringing us together. I went into derby wanting to try a new sport and meet some people with some similar interests. I have some of the best friends I could ever ask for and a spouse!  Derby has taught me so much about myself and has made me the person I am today. I would recommend anyone to try derby if it interests you at all. There's so much to get out of it. To be a part of this league and the community it comes with is something indescribable

 The friendships I have made in this league are hard to explain.  Every single person in this league, from the skaters to the refs and the non-skating officials, the coaches, captains, volunteers…the love surrounding  this sport is like nothing I have ever found. When I say roller derby changed my life... I mean it.

LA's Finest

May 8, 2014

Suga's Goodbye Playlist

I have always been the kind of person to apply song lyrics to certain situations. Whether it’s time to party and “Shots” by LMFAO & Lil Jon comes screeching from my mouth or it’s a dreary day and I listen to sad indie music; I’ve always had a playlist to coincide with my mood. When I first started playing Roller Derby there was one lyric that always stood out as my personal viewpoint to derby. This little nugget of gold came from Ani DeFranco’s song Little Plastic Castle, “I wish they could see us now, in leather bras and rubber shorts, like some ridiculous team uniform, for some ridiculous new sport. Quick someone call the girl police, and file a report”. That little snippet always made me smile and think about Roller Derby.

More than 4 years later, I have a whole new playlist for my Roller Derby experience. As some of you may know, Mary Poppin’ Caps and I are moving out of Fort Collins to the big city of Chicago. It was a decision that was not made in haste and leaving our Derby Family was the biggest decision to weigh. Now that the time has come for us to say our final goodbyes (our last bout with FoCo is this weekend at the Mayday Mayhem tournament hosted by Slaughterhouse Derby Girls), the only way I see fit to do so is to share my Goodbye Playlist.

Bye Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye) by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

The song starts out with Frankie Valli saying “If you hate me after what I say, Can't put it off any longer, I just gotta tell you anyway”. This lyric makes me think of the fact that I literally cannot speak about the move in front of Ms. Eerie Bizness without her either crying or yelling at me. The song follows with the entire band singing, “Bye bye baby, baby goodbye. Bye Bye Baby, don't make me cry”. For obvious reasons, this lyric automatically makes me want to cry. FoCo, please don’t make me cry (ya’ll know I hate crying in public).

Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye  by Steam

Another obvious choice for a goodbye playlist, but this song also reminds me of FoCo specifically. At Wild West this year, Coach Paul had the MicroBruisers watch Remember the Titans before our first bout. It was one of the best bonding experiences I have ever had with FoCo. We joked about what FoCo player would be each character ( Miz was obvious the big guy that sang constantly), and just sat around and enjoyed each others company. Every time I hear this song I will remember The Original Skankster turning to Coach Paul and saying “Sheryl. Sheryl. Sheryl. I. Do. Not. Care” multiple times that weekend.

Cowboy Boots by Macklemore

Everyone knows I love me some Macklemore, especially after our fantastic choreography at the 2013 St. Patty’s Day Parade to Thrift Shop. However, Cowboy Boots is a song in a completely different category than Thrift Shop. Cowboy Boots is a bittersweet song about leaving the ones you love and remembering the good times. Honestly, with a few tweaks this song could easily become an ode to Derby. Switch “kids” to “derby girls”, “city blocks” to “practice space”, “high heels” and “cowboy boots” to “skate boots” and you have a perfect Derby ballad. It’s a song about the nuances of a summer with friends in your city, but could easily be about a season playing roller derby. A few of the lyrics really hit home when I think about leaving, “Hold on to what you were, forget what you're not. The streets were ours that summer, at least those two blocks. Reminisce on those days, I guess that's OK, you wonder why, Some grow up, move on, close the chapter, live separate lives. The twenty-something confusion before the suit and tie. Strangers become mistakes but those mistakes made you feel alive. Hindsight is vibrant, reality: rarely lit. Memory's a collage pasted on to glue that barely sticks. Good Lord, they broke all my shields. Locked bathroom doors, graffiti, and high heels. Until you felt that altitude you don't know how high feels. Party mountain, some don't ever come down from around here. To be young again, I guess it's relative: The camel lights, the whiskey rye, sink into the skin. I fantasize about a second win. Grow a moustache (leg hair?), pick up another bad habit and let the games begin”. There is so much in that verse that I could go into and explain how it pertains to me and my derby experience, but I will let you draw your own conclusions.

Derby came to me during a transitional point in my life: I was finishing up college and trying to find out who I wanted to be. FoCo and the wonderful women of the league taught me so many life lessons that I can’t even begin to describe in this blog post. As I say my goodbyes, there are a few things I need to ask the ladies of FoCo to do for me. Someone needs to sing Disney songs with Miz at practice. Someone needs to say “Hallelu”, “Preach” or “Church” when agreeing with a statement at least once a practice. Someone on the Sirens needs to keep the Fishnet Rink Rash makeup tradition going. And finally, always skate with dignity and grace, and keep your heads up. You ladies mean the world to me and I don’t how I could ever repay you for the lessons you have all taught me.

I would like to finish this blog post in the wise words of Macklemore, “And acquaintances turn to friends, I hope those friends they remember me. Hold the night for ransom as we kidnap the memories.  Not sure there is a way to express what you meant to me, Sit around a table and use those years as the centerpiece”.

It bears repeating, “Not sure there is a way to express what you meant to me”.

With all of my love,

Suga Smaxxx

May 1, 2014

Buying Lego's.

Building a house is never easy. It takes months of planning, hard labor, and lots of split decisions along the way. Now imagine pouring the foundation, building the frame, putting in the plumbing and wiring, and finishing the drywall. You've put bricks on half of the house and the second story is partially finished. Oh- and the garage has had the cement poured. It's been months but your almost done, right? Now I'm going to tell you that you built the house wrong, that it was resting on shaky ground, and that you need to tear the whole thing down, move it 6 feet to the right, and start over.

You're psyched, right? I mean, who doesn't want to put in all that extra work night after night when they already have a fine shelter and a thunderstorm is on the way? Now, if you couldn't tell (and I really hope you could), I'm being sarcastic. No one wants to tear down all the work they've done when they've got a perfectly good fireplace and all of their teddy bears are already placed in their room right alongside their unicorn alarm clock. Rebuilding takes work and it's not always a sure thing. What if you tear down the house and the construction crew stops showing up? What if it snows and delays your plans to pour the concrete? Nothing is guaranteed, which is why rebuilding is so hard, but so important.

Just in case you drifted off during the first two paragraphs, yes, this is still a post about roller derby. Derby is never consistent; rules change, players leave for a variety of reasons, people no longer have the time or means to travel, or committee work takes over, and it seems like our league is always in a state of flux where our player pool is always changing. We knew we needed to change some things in order to accommodate this ever changing sport, so we decided that we were going to do something things a little bit differently this season. This year we got something we'd never really had before- an actual coach who's invested in us and ready to start winning. We started doing fitness requirements to get our ladies to start working out outside of derby. We started doing a more intense off-skates warm up. We started formulating and implementing new strategy. We brought in a nutritionist to teach us about healthy eating for our active bodies. We started honing in on specific skills that would give us an edge on the track, and we stopped allowing people to feel entitled to their position simply because they had been around a long time. These were hard changes to make or implement; some people felt picked on or that the work load would be too much for them. Some of us just felt shaken up, worried that everything we had built was going to be tossed in the garbage. It was definitely a massive culture and attitude change, but when we all packed our bags and headed to the Wild West Showdown in March, not one player felt like they hadn't earned their spot on the team. We had all put in the sweat, tears, long nights, and burning muscles to get there, and because we all knew we had earned it, we felt more like a team than ever before.

I came to realize that some people were not willing to rebuild our foundation. Whether it be impatience, an unwillingness to be challenged, or just that they needed a more competitive platform, it was hard losing these valuable players. That being said, I would do it all over again. We're not finished, not even by a long shot, but we've torn down the old structure and we're slowly and steadily rebuilding to have a more solid future. Even though it's thoroughly depressing to stand and look down upon an empty hole where you once had your house, we're building this brick by brick and bolt by bolt in order to stay steady when we lose skaters to anything from pregnancy to career changes. We want out team to remain strong even when we only have 8 skaters to play an entire bout with. So, if your team or your heart is facing the old dilemma of where you want to be with roller derby, just ask yourself:

Do you want to right the ship, or do you want to build a new one?


The Original Skankster

April 24, 2014

My Weight Loss Journey

So why did you join roller derby? This is usually one of the first questions someone asks me when they find out I joined the sport. I respond to that question similarly to most of the things in my life- I did it on a whim. After all, I had never attended a bout. I knew little, if anything, about the sport and after years of broken bones, sprains, and injuries from riding horses, the idea of getting back into a full contact hobby was a little daunting- yet here I was, investing a small fortune into tights, knee-high socks, and glitter. Yes, it was a whim, but there was another, larger force at work.

Instead of being thin and lithe growing up, I was built more like a Mustang horse...short and hardy. Since humor was something that came naturally, it was easy to be the chubby, witty girl in a group of friends. Even though I knew I was overweight, I still had a positive self-image and a voracious appetite for food and life. Over the years, the weight had crept up and instead of getting things under control, I told jokes. Then I stopped going out with friends. Then I rarely stopped moving my body from the couch or bed unless it was for work.

"Got fat." There it was- two words jumping out at me when I accidentally glanced down at my audition sheet for a community theater production in 2011. "Egads" was one of the words that ran through my head followed by a series of swear words. The director of the show was not attempting to be mean or rude; in fact, the audition sheet is solely for the use of the director and was not meant to be seen by yours truly. Nevertheless, words were written and inadvertently seen by me, proving the hard truth that I had deliberately been ignoring for the past few years. In all actuality, it didn't hurt when I read what someone else saw when they looked at me. Instead it helped me become resolved.

I joined Weight Watchers the day after the audition. I was cast in the show, ironically named, "Eat Your Heart Out" and told the director that by the time the show opened that I would be 20 pounds lighter. Nine weeks later, I was 19.6 pounds lighter. In less than a year, I had shed 60 pounds and began to find a smaller me within.

But this is not a story focused on Weight Watchers or the power one has to rise up from the ashes of couchdom. This is my secret reason for joining roller derby that I have rarely divulged...until now. The reason I joined roller derby is because I need to be the healthiest I can be. This doesn't translate to a dress size 2 for me, but it does translate to muscle tone and finding my collarbone without digging my fingers into my neck, and eventually making that mile jog in less than 10 minutes. Intentionally or unintentionally, my teammates hold me accountable to keep attending practice and keep me moving. At 25 years old I was borderline diabetic and my cholesterol numbers had doctors discussing medications that I had only heard about on commercials. Whether they know it or not, my Foco Girls Gone Derby league-mates have helped me keep those numbers beaten back with a well-wielded stick...of quad skates. Will roller derby help you lose weight? I can't really say, but considering the health risks I could face by going back to my stagnant lifestyle, roller derby is help saving my life.

Dyer's Eve

April 17, 2014

Get Low - The Emotional Timeline

Even before I got on skates, "get low" was the anthem I learned when starting my journey with FocoGirlsGoneDerby. My first day of training I was an exact representation of what a baby dear on ice looks like, where I was simply told by the coach to "get low." Not heeding her advice, I continued to spend the majority of my practices on the floor not being able to stabilize myself, or do any of the exercises. The lingering phrase "get low" was told to me once again. Feeling defeated, and like a failure I almost wanted to throw in the towel.

I suddenly decided that giving up was not an option. I spent the days I didn't have practice in front of my house and at Rollerland practicing squatting on skates and skating as low as I could possibly muster. When we began to learn hits and blocking, I found that I needed to be even lower than I had anticipated, so I started squatting while doing the dishes, brushing my teeth, even at work if I could sneak it in. What I came to learn as I was being hip-checked to the ground is that the lower you skate, the easier it is to not only take hits but to do anything in roller derby. It was a whole new world as I finally started to have fun and improve. So, new recruits, when you feel like you're going to give up or that you made a mistake starting derby, just get low!  -Ginger SnapHer

Free this Saturday? Even if you're not, cancel them plans and head on over to watch our kick-ass Punchy Brewsters take on the High City Derby Dames! Traveling all the way from Aurora, these ladies are eager for to win, so this bout should be an intense firefight! Come to Qdoba Event Center at 218 Smokey St. in Fort Collins in order to experience the food, beer, crowd, and fun we have in store for you. The bout starts at 7pm, but the doors open at 6:30 so you can make sure to snag your favorite seat in the booty zone! Come and support your favorite roller derby league and we'll make sure you'll have a great time! Tickets can be purchased here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/610896

See you track-side!