January 31, 2013

Big Girls Don't Cry

I'm a crier.  I cry all the time, but no one would actually know this because I'm super embarrassed about it.  Seriously, I cried last week during Indiana Jones.  I guess one time in my very reserved childhood I saw this girl crying about something incredibly silly (like her nail broke or whatever) and she then proceeded to throw herself into the arms of this boy she had a crush on, just for the attention.  At this moment (I must have been 10) in my life I decided that if I ever had to cry, like any self-respecting member of the female gender I would lock myself in a bathroom and do it the old-fashioned way- by myself in the comfort of my own shattered self-esteem.  I would sob my little heart out, wipe my tears, and then parade out of the bathroom with my head held high like nothing had even phased me. This week, I learned I how stupid this was.

A few weeks ago we had our Thursday Scrimmage Practice and although we have it every week, this one really stuck to me.  Thursday Scrimmage Practice is always just a little more intense than our regular league practice.  People become nervous, excited, and frustrated very quickly because of the expectations that we set for ourselves.  We all feel like we have to something to prove at every scrimmage, and if we do poorly, we beat ourselves up about it.

At this particular Thursday Scrimmage, we were discussing as a team what our positions would be and how the expectation was for everyone to jam at least once, no matter what your regular position is.  We do this to encourage people to get outside their comfort zone and learn something new.  As we were talking about this I heard someone pipe up.  A fellow teammate started saying how nerve-racking jamming was for her, how it was incredibly difficult, and how she went through a panic-attack when she even thought about jamming.  This confession brought her to tears.  You could see how scared and frustrated she was and how the expectations she had put on herself had brought her to this point.  As she was opening her heart to us I thought, "This girl is braver than I ever knew."  

This courageous girl had been scared to share her feelings with us, but had done it anyway.  This act of strength revealed to me that as different as each and every one of us are, we are a family.  We're not "roller derby sisters," we're real sisters, and we are responsible for the culture of our league.  This moment inspired me to seek a change in the roller derby culture as a whole.  We use words like "tough" and "badass" to describe what kind of people we are, but what do these words really mean?  We have adopted in this sport that they mean things like "fearless," "shut up and skate," and "get your ass on the track."  But to me, "tough" and "badass" mean being scared and getting on the track anyway.  It means taking those fears that you have and being open about them.

Having insecurities about yourself as a player has always been looked down upon. We're so used to shoving all of our fears to the back of our mind that instead of being confident, we're just pretending to be confident. Let's change this by starting a conversation about what we're afraid of and then listening to our fellow sisters. Your roller derby sisters are there to support and strengthen you, so bring your fears on the track with you and defeat them there; on the battlefield.  You have all the warriors you need right next to you.

The Original Skankster

January 24, 2013

I'm Working Smarter, Not Harder

Eye of the tiger, baby!
I had a breakthrough practice last week. It was one of those practices where my hits were well timed, where my feet were fast, where I didn't feel stressed out or pressured, and it was just FUN. This is exactly what it should be like. The week before (and every week before that) I spent what felt like the whole scrimmage on the verge of tears because I felt like I HAD to jam and couldn't, but this week I gave myself a break. This week, I decided that I would do one thing well and focused on seeing and understanding my position on the track and completing a job.

I think I have been feeling a lot of pressure to know what to do ALL.THE.TIME. when I am skating and the results are that I am 1. Confused. 2. Anxious 3. Doing a bad job at every position I try because I don't understand any of them well (or even poorly). There is a disconnect between what I think my skills should  be and what they actually are and my head is thinking 3 jams down the road. Needless to say, this is not how great derby gets played. At the start of our last scrimmage, I was at a point where I just couldn't be that stressed out again and learned to say "no" to disappointing myself again. I just had to decide that I didn't have any additional sh*%s to give to feeling low but I had a whole bunch to give to feeling good.

Jessie and I are the same amount of excited and scared.
Unfortunately for me, I don't have a Zack Morris to "hug it out" with.
Because of this leeway, I didn't dread every time I knew I had to take the track because someone would look at me and ask me to jam. I just concentrated on this one skill and, surprise! I improved and I liked not feeling like the dingy-est spazz on 8 wheels for a change. I think my confidence needed that break. Usually, I leave scrimmages feeling like it is the worst I have ever played because I am AWESOME  at beating myself up and you know what? That's pretty stupid. Do you know how much energy it takes to feel bad? As it turns out, it's the same amount of energy it takes to build myself up.

Adorable pixie of awesomeness = Femme
I have been talking with another up-and-coming skater (Thirfty Femme-i-Nifty) about this totally ridiculous propensity we both have to tear ourselves down. We (I) have decided that we're establishing a stronger culture of positivity starting RIGHT NOW by not feeding that ugly monster within ourselves. See, I am really outstanding at being someone else's cheerleader. I tell them it's OK to fall as long as you get back up, and I proud of all of them even when they aren't lead jammer (or don't even make it out of the pack) because I genuinely AM PROUD but it's really annoying that I can't feel that way about myself. So I am going to make a decision to be as kind to myself as I am other people. I am skill building right now. I am not a seasoned, experienced skater who has slick hits and jukes in her bag 'o tricks. I will eventually have them, but I don't now and I have to learn to be OK with that. I will move forward with the tools I do have and that is going to be sustaining. That will move me forward and keep me happy and hungry for more.

So that's it folks, Mollytov Maguire is going on a permanent vacation. I liked the break from self destructive behaviour so much that I am just not going back. And I am taking Femme with me. Pack your bags.

And then there were MANY sh*#s to give. The End.

Derby Love,
Mollytov Maguire


January 17, 2013

New Years Resolutions of a Roller Derby Girl

Learn the Rules.
We all “know” the rules, but only a handful of us know the rules well enough to squeeze the benefits out of them.  Rules are essential when forming strategy in order to put you at an advantage.  If I had to be honest with myself, I haven’t taken the time to learn to rules as well as I could because frankly, I kind of find them a bit boring to read.  No offense to WFTDA, it’s just fairly dry material and there always seems to be something a little more pertinent that I have to deal with.  I’ve gotten by on knowing the big rules, but I would like to know them so well that I can use them to my advantage.  Challenging calls, being smart about exiting the penalty box, and knowing how to enter the track in a sticky situation is pivotal in gaining the advantage in a bout.  These little advantages can be the difference in whether you win a bout or not, and I plan to help my team win. Especially now, with the new rule set, it’s the perfect time to really learn the rules and start playing derby a little smarter.

Make it to RollerCon.
If you have never been to RollerCon, this is probably one of the things you have promised yourself this year.  You’re going to scrimp and save and eat Ramen and not buy shoes just so you can go to this conference for a few days in Vegas.  Having attended last year I find myself itching to go back this year.  This conference is a field day for any derby girl including skate classes galore, live bouts being played all day, rules sessions, nutritional information, informative classes, copious amounts of merch, and Team USA casually walking around the hotel and sunbathing by the pool.  I came back from RollerCon last year feeling like I crammed as many classes as I could and was excited to share some things that I had learned with my league.  One of my sisters pulled me aside a few weeks later and told me that I had improved in such a way that she didn’t even recognize me as a skater when I came back.  She told me that I looked so much more balanced and confident on my skates and that she could tell my skating had significantly improved.  Don’t get me wrong- RollerCon is not a quick fix for anything- whatever you learn at RollerCon will need to be practiced over and over again in order to stick, but it’s definitely a huge resource that will help you progress in derby.

Win One MVP Trophy
I selfishly admit that I secretly covet to be voted MVP of a bout.  I have been awarded this esteemed trophy once before, and although it was glorious and filled my soul with delight, it was more of a casual bout.  This year, I would like to be voted MVP of a travel bout where no one knows me, they just undoubtedly see me as a value to my team.

Jump The Apex. 
This is pretty much every derby girls’ wet dream.  We see people like Suzy hotrod, Urrk’n, Atomatrix, and Bonnie Thunders do this with ease.  When they come up on a congested pack before a corner, instead of fighting their way through and possibly getting stuck, they just jump out of bounds and cut off an entire section of the track, soaring through the air with grace as they do it, and as a result they fly away ahead of the pack and onto victory.  It’s the ultimate derby girl move that’s incredibly valuable to have in your arsenal, and it turns you from an average derby girl to an awesome one.  Once you have mastered this amazing move you’re no longer afraid of taking chances, and that is the attribute of a true derby girl; they choose to be fearless.

Be Awesome
The truth is, it’s easy to be cool but it’s hard to be awesome.  It’s easy to show up to practice and not try as hard as you can.  Our lives take precedent over derby and oftentimes we find ourselves saving our energy for work, family, and other responsibilities.  We come to practice, go through the motions, and convince ourselves we’re getting a good workout and that we’re being challenged.  We’re not.  So this year, I’m going to be awesome, and awesome takes hard work.  I’m going to push myself through ruts, work my body to the bone, and leave it all on the track.  This is what makes a good derby girl, but more importantly, this is what makes a good athlete.  Oftentimes we forget that we are athletes that play a competitive sport, and I’m going to start acting like one.  I’m not going to whine when I’m sore, when I’m tired, when I don’t have time for other things, or when I can’t master a skill.  I will choose instead to smile at myself and say, “I’m an athlete, and instead of being mediocre, I have chosen to be awesome.”

Looking forward to a great year, 

The Original Skankster

January 10, 2013

There is Glitter on my Soapbox

There aren't a lot of things that really get under my skin. Well today, I am going to get out my soapbox and talk about something that I feel really passionate about. Yes, you guessed it, roller derby. More specifically, I am going to talk about roller derby style. Fashion. Booty shorts. Fish-net stockings. Glitter. Most importantly, I am going to talk about the way those things make me feel.

Pfft! Athleticism at its finest.
True story. 
When I put on a rockin' pair of tights, some adorable short shorts, and sprinkle glitter on everything that doesn't jump out the way, I feel good. I feel like an awesome disco ball of quad-tastic power. I am not ashamed of this feeling and I am not ashamed of my body in this outfit. I don't care if I look less "legit" or that anyone could ever dream that it is less athletic than the bikinis worn by Olympic volleyball players. I don't wear those things to gain approval.

Some of you may be wondering what brought this up, so let me give you a little bit of background. In December, we took a break from derby. No practices, no scrimmages  no committee meetings, no endurance, none of it. But we did get together for a few optional social-ish events and one of them was watching a popular new roller derby documentary. In this documentary, lots of things were discussed including comparisons in modern roller derby to other sports and why breaking into the mainstream will be hard. They discussed what was holding us back from Olympic greatness was the overall seriousness of the sport. Our names are silly, both team names and individual names, the history is chaotic and theatrical, and then there is way we dress... Wait a minute. Hold the phone. Did you just say the way we dress? I stewed on this for weeks.

The more I thought about it, the more offended I became that the way I dress is actually impacting perceptions of athletic skill or ability. I like to look like a woman when I skate. I like to feel confident in what I am wearing but I do understand that the clothes I choose for roller derby events are not commonly worn by the general public. That is OK with me. Give me one hour and my teammates and I will change the way you think of female athletes. This thing I do, it isn't a joke. I know that some people come to derby because they want to watch chicks in short shorts hit each other, but that isn't why I am there. I am there to be an athlete. To better myself. To be a member of something. I LIKE knocking my friends down wearing bedazzled hot pants. That is something that I get to choose for myself.

This guy told taught us how to know better
than judging based on appearances.
Can't we all agree to be done with those days?
That is the wonderful thing about the era that I live in. This is not 1950 when a woman who doesn't conform to social norms was an outright pariah. I don't have a narrow and limited path to follow. I get to choose. This is a generation that has been taught to know better. This is a time that asks people to be more tolerant. This is the age of the open minded. My booty shorts challenge viewpoints. I wear them proudly. I laugh at "mainstream" proudly because someday, my daughters won't fight this fight. They will have others, surely, but not this one. So shame on you Mr. Documentary Commentator for telling me that I will never be "legit" because of clothing. You are wrong but I am not going to hold it against you. I will show you at my next bout that I play roller derby, I am a woman, and I am an athlete. None of those things will cancel one another out.

Derby love,
Mollytov Maguire