November 15, 2012

Jammin' Like Never Before

I have set a new goal for myself: jam. Having played in two bouts far and jammed in neither of them, I am starting to see the appeal. It looks like so much fun, graceful, creative, dynamic! I see the appeal, but I don't feel it. Right now, every time I jam I want to have a nervous breakdown. I want to throw up in the trash can. My legs get shaky and I skate like a little foal taking her first steps (on roller skates). I fell in turn three on nothing. No one near me, no one hit me, I was even lead jammer, but I skate-locked MYSELF trying to do crossovers. Jamming is the bane of my derby existence right now.

Two times a week I gather my gear, put on my booty shorts, and try and talk myself into loving jamming. I sit in my car, screaming out rap music to make myself feel like a bad ass that can jam like nobody's business. I imagine that I am happy to do it and that I am a fleet footed roller derby machine. Sometimes, this gets me through the practice. I just don't know how to make the switch between pretending to love jamming and actually loving jamming. What if I never do? What if every time I take the track I feel this way?

What if I always have to see that look of disappointment in my teammates eyes when I pass on the jammer panty jam after jam? I understand that this is a team sport, and they can make all the arguments in the world to me about how "it will make me a better blocker" and "we all have to do it" but at this point, I don't care. I have asked myself why I feel this way about it. I wonder if I am just not an attention seeking person, I don't want all eyes on me. But I am not sure how true that can be if I write a blog for all to see. I must admit that I think it's because I am afraid to suck.

Suga Smaxxx - My beautiful derby sister,
jamming like a pro!
It's good to have support like this.
I mentioned in a previous blog that if I wasn't naturally good at something, I have just quit. My teammates (god bless them) won't let me quit jamming. That isn't an option. And the result is that I have to really bad at this for (what feels like) an interminable amount of time. Right now, it looks like forever. While I am really excited for the Salt and Pepper bout this weekend I am borderline filled with dread about it also. Sitting in my kitchen, writing this post, my stomach has turned uneasy just from thinking about it. I wonder what my friends and family will think when I never make it out of the pack? What if I don't even make my initial pass and the other jammer gets my point over and over for two solid minutes because she knows I am not on a scoring pass and she can just keep going. What if I take a major penalty and have to sit in the box totally helpless to what is happening, just watching??

I have said it before and I will say it again for anyone who missed it. Roller derby is hard. It is physically taxing, emotionally draining, it takes up my time, my money, and my energy. But it has also given me so much. Because of derby I am happier, more confident, and self-assured. Because of derby I have a community, a hobby, and stronger sense of identity. So I guess I can sacrifice my pride, jam like the wind, and give my teammates two minutes of madness in another position.

Derby Love,
Mollytov Maguire

November 9, 2012

Have Skates, Will Travel

"You guys here for derby?" he asked.

"That's us."

"C'mon in.  You guys are in here."

He rolled up a large industrial door and pointed to the back of the building.  All we saw was the beautiful track.  

The Wasatch County Roller Girls are located in a large industrial area of Salt Lake City.  Train tracks ran right behind it ironically enough, and the minor league baseball stadium is only a few blocks away.  This area housed huge blocks of shipping companies, packaging companies, and factories that supply parts to the far corners of the world, and the Wasatch County Roller Girls play right in the middle of it.  They lease out a large empty building with a concrete floor and some bathrooms to play this great sport, and to them it's home.

We drove there earlier that morning thinking it would be a nice, quiet, Sunday morning scrimmage.  We had played a bout the night before that was both incredibly exciting and physically demanding.  The after-party had gone much later than any of us were expecting, and we all found ourselves running off of little sleep and already dreading our 8 hour drive home later that day.  A quiet, fun scrimmage was what all of us were looking for.

Of course, in true derby fashion, you never really get what you expect.  We all thought the aspect of Sunday morning would keep most fans away, and we would be playing against a team with some NSO's and a handful of  fans to watch us. 

Boy, were we wrong.

Despite the early Sunday morning aspect, and that the building was located far from anyone's home, as we poked our heads out of our dressing room we were shocked to find ourselves a midst over a hundred fans and a man dressed up like Sasquatch (well, in all honesty he could have been a real Sasquatch, I mean who's to say he wasn't?)  They had all scraped themselves out of bed to join us in our love of derby, and to cheer their favorite team in the whole world to a victory. 

The bout was deafening.  We constantly heard the Sasquatch-man leading cheers for Wasatch county and found ourselves having to scream at each other in order to hear anything.  Fans brought cowbells, noisemakers, and used their voices, hands, and feet to show us what kind of fans we were dealing with.  Out of all the teams we've played, these fans showed the most dedication and pizazz.

It was neck and neck for almost the entire bout, but eventually one team had to win, and it wasn't us.  Although we lost, I wasn't disappointed about the way we played.  We killed it, and it was one of the funnest bouts I've ever had the pleasure to participate in.  The truth is, anyone who plays derby understands that the passion for this sport is so much more than anyone could anticipate.  It takes over our brains, our free time, our wallets, and our hearts.  We've been blessed to play in a great space, but if we didn't have it we would still play.  We would play in an alleyway, a parking lot, an airport hanger, an empty space that during the day is used to package dog food, or a cement slab in the middle of nowhere.  We would play rain or shine, sleet or snow, and we would smile while doing it.  We would also get up at the crack of dawn to watch derby and cheer on our sisters.  I've never seen anyone more dedicated to a sport than a  roller derby girl.  I've never seen anyone so passionate and willing to learn that a derby girl.  I've never seen anyone hustle to sell tickets and merch like a derby girl.  

Some people watch roller derby and think, "oh that's a neat sport." I watch it and think, "I want to have that confidence in myself."  It really is a lifestyle, and it's the best one I've ever had to pleasure to experience.

-The Original Skankster

November 1, 2012

Safety For Sarah - End Domestic Violence

A derby sister has been living a real life nightmare this October. We were all rocked by the news that a fellow skater was shot in the head by her fiancee. I personally have never spoken to her, never met her, but my heart bleeds for her. JC Savior is a talented skater that has played roller derby with both the FoCo Girls Gone Derby and the Choice City Rebels. I can't say I was there for her before this happened, but I can commit to doing everything possible for her now.

One thing I will do is skate in her benefit bout Nov. 3, 7 pm at the Qdoba Event Center. All proceeds will benefit JC Savior/Sarah Harris. She will need a lot of things to recover and the strength and love provided by this community will go a long way. She will need our support emotionally and financially. Domestic violence is a crime that cannot be tolerated and we must stand together on this. Derby folk, non-derby folk, men, women, parents, and children can be victims of these crimes and everyone's safety is effected.

I have a non-derby friend who went through a situation a few years ago and I can still remember the fear. I remember being fearful for her well-being, for mine, and for her family's. The abuse built over time, escalating in severity. It happened over the course of years and started small. Making comments about her intelligence, her decision making capabilities, and the way she dressed. She was torn down by this person over and over and the woman that I had come to know was being re-built in the image of a person who wanted her to feel small and empty.

When things did end it took a long time for her to rediscover herself. She needed time to find out what SHE wanted and what SHE liked. The choices SHE would make when left to her own devices. It was simple things like the kind of music she will listen to alone. The kind of food she will buy at the grocery store. The movies that she likes to watch. When you spend your time living for someone else, sacrificing to make them happy, trying desperately to be the peacemaker, it uses a lot of energy and there might not be a lot left for taking care of yourself. Abuse isn't just physical, its emotional. Its a darkness that creeps into your head and heart and paralyzes you into thinking that every day that the abuse doesn't happen is a gift, but it isn't. It shouldn't happen any day. Not today, not tomorrow, not a year down the road.

Thinking of you Sarah! Every place we go
FoCo Micro Bruisers - 10/27/12
There are resources available to victims and their families here in Fort Collins and on the Front Range. Alternatives to Violence and Crossroads Safehouse can provide assistance with escaping an abusive situation and tools to help identify domestic violence and the different forms that abuse can take.

Learn more about what you can do to help identify and offer support to victims of domestic violence in your community. If you or a friend is in need of help call: 1.800.799.SAFE for access to help and resources.

For information on how you can help Sarah, see the Derby Sister Support, SafetyforSarah, or send cards, gifts, and other things to:

Sarah Harris
c/o VaVoom Aesthetics
2216 Hoffman Dr
Loveland, CO 80538