March 28, 2013

Investing in Yourself

Earlier this year, I promised myself that instead of making excuses for myself and just "going through the motions" at practice, that I would make this year the year.  I would do all of the things I've never done; like the Apex Jump, be a lead jammer in a WFTDA sanctioned bout, play in a tournament, and become the jukey little monster I've always wanted to be. I meant it.  I've been making huge changes in my eating and workout habits, so why do I feel like I've plateaued?  Why do I feel like I haven't done anything productive since October?

Well, you might say, "Skank, it's only been a few weeks since you've made these changes, and results don't happen overnight."  This is true, and I expect that these changes will start taking hold in a couple of months, but the real reason why I think I haven't been improving is because I'm simply not taking the risks.  I come to practice, work hard, but I'm really not forcing myself to try the things I've never done before.  I'm not breaking through my reservations and fears.  So what if I don't pull off the 360 degree turn to avoid a hit?  So what if I get my ass plowed to the ground?  If I do it over and over again then someday I will pull it off and it will all have been worth it.

So how do you keep from plateauing?  How do we keep from just 'staying the course?'  I feel like as fresh meat and veterans we are constantly worried about sinking into a rut.

1.You have to work out outside of roller derby.  Many ladies will hear this, cringe, and immediately stop reading.  I do not care.  If you do not work out outside of roller derby you will continue to use the same muscles in the same way at the same speeds every time.  The only way to progress physically is to use different muscles in different ways at different speeds.  "But Skank," you may say, "I already dedicate too much time to derby, I can't dedicate more time to working out."  That's fine, but you probably won't improve.  It's your choice.  You can also utilize small amounts of time, like getting up 15 minutes earlier than normal and doing some pushups and burpees.  Do some oblique exercises before bed, or some core on your lunch break.  Instead of walking around your house, lunge.  Every little bit counts, and as those muscles get stronger you will be able to really start using them.  Lastly, don't think of it as losing time, think of it as an investment.  You're investing in your own body.

2. You must improve your eating habits.  I almost felt a collective "sigh" as I wrote that one down, but it's the same concept.  Food really is fuel.  Think of going to the gas station and filling up your gas tank.  Wouldn't you want to fill your car with what makes it perform the best?  If you fill it with diesel fuel; heavy foods with additives and preservatives, you're body will be slow and heavy, like a big rig.  Start treating your body like a Porsche, a tiny little sports care that explodes with speed and can corner like a dream.  This will allow your body to put on muscle and become so much more powerful than it already is.

3. Always be trying something new.  This is the one I struggle with the most.  We all have that few minutes of free skate before practice starts, the few minutes of cool down, and sometimes a little in between drills.  Utilize this time for your benefit!  These precious moments are the ones we have to work on our jumps, footwork, turns, juking, and stops.  After we feel safe, we can start using them in scrimmage, and that's when it really gets interesting.  The moment when you pull off a new skill you have never completed is so choice.  So be your own hero and become someone else's derby crush for a change.

The moral of the story is, no on can improve your game but you.  You are the only one who can push yourself to go harder, longer, and faster.  No amount of coaching, peer pressure, or captaining can make you a better skater, the choice has always been, and always will be, yours.  It's hard to take accountability for myself when I already feel sleep deprived and short on time, but if I really want to become a person that I can be proud of, I need to start investing, and stop paying the minimum amount on my credit card.  I hope you'll join me.



March 21, 2013

Smells like Molly's Spirit

I want to bottle the feeling I have when I am on my way to practice and make it into perfume. FYI - It wouldn't smell like my gear bag. It would be the smell equivalent of glitter, so it would be like baking brownies with your mother while Love, Actually is playing in the background right before it rains. While riding a Liger. I would probably spritz myself with this before things like, my annual review at work. Or... when I need inspiration for the "sweet baby Jesus, give me the strength to sprint on roller skates to back to the pack" moments in life. It happens more often than I'd like to admit.

Being in the car, on the way to practice is the best part of my day. The worst part of my day is the 20 minutes before that when I was on the couch snuggling with a fat kitty and I realized that I have to get off the couch, out of warm clothes, into ones that are tiny and cold. During this time, I drag my feet like a petulant child. Sometimes I stomp around the house starting fights with my man about dirty dishes and the cat hair tumbleweed that passed through the hallway because of all my stomping. Not all days are like this. Sometimes I dance with the aforementioned fat kitty and make up songs for him as if I were a lounge singer in a very bad Las Vegas dive bar. Both of these things are totally transparent in that I am pretending that somehow, time has stood still and minutes are not flying away from me. Like when I am hitting the snooze alarm for too long, this makes me late. Unlike hitting the highway to the daily grind, when my big ole booty hits the cold leather of my driver's seat on derby nights, it shocks me into elation. Suddenly, I am BEYOND excited to be there with muh ladies of FoCo.  Once I am there, a few moments pass and the sepia edged memories of my regular life to fade out. After this, I belong wholly to myself again. In two hour blocks, two times a week, I belong to me.

After practice, I gear down slowly as I start thinking about my "action items" for the next day's work (for the Clark Kent version of me). Those postcard memories of that other boring girl start coming back in full-on technicolor. I think about quippy blog post titles and what song is stuck in my head from a random 80's movie and that animated gif I saw earlier today of otters chasing a butterfly. Concurrently. And then I Pinterest about my astrological sign until I can't keep my eyes open anymore because that is the only time that my brain slows down. And sometimes, Pinterest doesn't event work. On those nights, I realize that I should have taken a sleep aid the moment I walked in the door and fallen into bed covered in slimy sweat. If I were a cartoon I would have green, wavy stink lines rising off me as I slept peacefully. That isn't what happens on those derby nights though. I look at the interwebs for a while, then I am so cold (because of slimy sweat on every bit of my skin) that I have to take a hot shower at 1AM.When I finally crawl back into bed, I am warm, exhausted, and finally ready to sleep.

This is what derby nights look like in my house. It's defined by the distinct flow of anxiety, anticipation, and excitement. If that is what I do on practice days, let's just imagine what bout day looks like... *shudder. OK, let's not.

Derby Love,
Mollytov Maguire

March 14, 2013

The Wild West Showdown!

The things that I love most about roller derby are the fierce competition, excellent community, and the incredible friendships, which is why I absolutely love tournaments. To me, tournaments are the place where each of the aforementioned derby elements come together in perfect harmony. Tournaments are a special place located right between your sweetest dreams, worst nightmares, highest aspirations, most embarrassing memories, with everything else in between. They are the epicenter of everything that is awesome about derby; that's right, everything.  So today, in honor of our recent tournament adventures, I am going to attempt to explain what makes them sooo LEGEN...wait for it...DARY!!!

First of all, a little backstory. Last year, FoCo's very own travel team, the Microbruisers, were invited to participate in a tournament called The Wild West Showdown in Bremerton, WA.  At that time, I had just made the travel team and I was just a wee little Skatey with big dreams, big fears, and whole lot to learn. I was doing my best to make the active roster, and I was sweating the competition, hard.  All fears and aspirations aside, the atmosphere was incredible. Hundreds of derby girls were everywhere you looked. Derby celebs were mingling in the crowds alongside the merely mortal skaters (like myself) and bouts were running continuously from early in the morning until late at night. For the first time in my life, I travelled to another state for the sole purpose of competing in a sport.  I had no presentation to give, no exams to take, no questions to answer, but I had to compete in an entirely new way and I was ready to give it a shot.  I went up against extremely daunting teams: Slaughter County Roller Vixens, Sin City Roller Girls, Emerald City Roller Girls, and Dockyard Derby Dames, and played at a level I never knew that I could. I gave it my all and ended up doing pretty well, but that was only part of the story. The other part of the story happened behind the scenes and opened my eyes to all of the wonderful things that come along with tournament play.

At this tournament, everyone was living and breathing derby, but amongst all of the booty shorts, sweat, makeup, and gear stench, little, magical things happened. Through these experiences, I realized how important it is to practice good sportswomanship, to listen to and thank the refs and NSO’s, and to keep a cool head on the bench. I determined that success in derby is not only about having the skills and drive to perform, but also about never underestimating your opponent or yourself. Most importantly though, I found that travelling with your team enables you to develop friendships in a way that is almost impossible to do under regular circumstances. I am a nerd and I can be pretty socially awkward, so even though I had been skating with these ladies at least two nights a week for the previous year and a half, I often felt like an observer rather than a participant.  But all of us were there in this pacific northwestern derby paradise, and we all had to pull together to think and act like a team. We roomed together, ate together, talked together, won together and lost together. It was incredible. You're personally challenged on so many levels, and you're surrounded by a bunch of strong, amazing, inspirational women who are sweating their own set of challenges. But these women are there, ready to support you in a heartbeat (and/or set you straight, if needed). When emotions ran hot, and chaos was everywhere, everyone seemed to ban together, and incredible friendships were born.

When we decided to go to Wild West again this year, I was ecstatic but a little hesitant.  In the derby world, a year can bring about a lot of change, and this year was no different. For starters, our team is completely different than last year, and several of our skaters had only been skating with us for a couple of months. Also, I am now the captain, which brings about a whole array of new responsibilities, concerns, fears, and goals. Again, I found myself excited, scared, and on the brink of a whole new type of learning experience.  Along with all of those thoughts and feelings though, I was just so excited. I could feel a great energy from the new team, and although our preparation time was shorter than I had hoped, I was really encouraged by the team "vibe." Sure enough, once we arrived, the tournament magic happened again.  Despite some pretty serious issues with our travel situation (I will never patronize a certain rental car company ever again!!! They know who they are...) everyone pulled together, put on their big girl booty shorts and by our first bout we had become a seething, furious, derby monster ready to devour all skaters in our path! We skated, laughed, cried, ate, and drank together. Although we arrived as a bunch of skaters; some vets of the league, some brand new, all of us unsure of how this would play out, we left as a team. A team that performed well against formidable rivals and thanked the officials. A team that increased our rankings by eleven spots and held down the dance floor alongside Quadzilla. A team of women that I am proud to skate with and am happy to know better through this tournament experience. A team that I can’t wait to skate with again at the Mayday Mayhem tournament in a couple of months.  

So for all of you readers out there here’s the take-home message: Tournaments are a test that tell you what your team is made of, and the results are in- our team is 100% AWESOME.

March 7, 2013

She's Got Your Back on the Track

March is women's history month and it's very fitting for FoCo because we are making history with our season opener on the 16th. We're playing at a new venue with new home teams and many new players. In honor of this historic event, I have asked one of the home team captains to help with fictionally drafting some really rad women to play with us. I will be making my selections for the Cinderhellas and MomeRath will be doing the same for the Psycho Sirens. Here is how it all played out:

First Round:
Cinderhellas: Betty Freidan -- Jammer
            Author of "The Feminine Mystique" and founder of N.O.W. (National Organization for Women) in 1966. She was a wife, a mother, and advocate for women's rights. Though her politics were often polarizing and her ideas controversial, she tirelessly worked for equality in the workplace. Her sometimes demanding style would make her an excellent jammer as she could power through the pack in a fury of twists and jukes bound to confuse the best of blockers. This is why she would be my first round pick for the Cinderhellas. 
Derby name: Femme-i-nine Technique

Psycho Sirens: Margaret Sanger -- Blocker (helper)
            Opening the first birth control clinic in 1916 with her sister and a friend, Margaret Sanger was an early activist for helping women have access to safe birth control and the knowledge about contraception; which naturally, she was sent to the penalty box for by “the man.”  In the 1930s she helped operate the only birth control organization in the United States which would eventually become Planned Parenthood.  With her life-long dedication to the safety and education of women, Sanger would be able to aid the jammer’s pass through the pack of opponents and oppressors.  I would be proud to call her a Siren.   
Derby name: The Anti-Baby Maker.

Second Round:
Cinderhellas: Adele -- Blocker (helper) 
            Girl got some anger issues to work through and I like her style. If roller derby makes great therapy, then I have just the prescription for Adele. She is no shrinking violet. She is an amazing artist but what I love about her is that she is a role model to women everywhere. She has the one of the top girl rock anthems in the world. Ever. Yeah girl, get at it. You will set fire to the rain. In roller derby, as in life, we need to be comfortable with our bodies and know that what others think of as a limitation can really be an asset. Especially in derby, women of all shapes and sizes are encouraged. Nothing is going to keep a skater from skating. I think she would be a great helper; breaking up lines and setting the crowd on fire every time she takes the track. 
Derby name: Rebel Has It

Psycho Sirens: Alice Walker -- Blocker (pivot)
            Author, poet, feminist, and activist, Alice Walker has been leading the way for Americans since marching in the 1963 Civil Rights Movement, even volunteering to register black voters in Georgia and Mississippi.  Walker is the blocker who may get sent to the penalty box for a bad call, but refuses to let it make her bitter.  With resounding energy she’ll booty block and hit, forcing her way to the front of the pack with literary grace—and when need be—take that star pass and score some major points.  Walker will gladly go to the penalty box to stand up for what’s right.
Derby name: The Color Black, Blue & Purple.

Third Round:
Cinderhellas: Sandra Fluke -- Blocker (pivot)
            Her claim to fame is not backing down from Rush Limbaugh's inflammatory statements regarding her sex life. Shame on him for that, but she rose to the occasion with grace and determination. What's more important than her reaction to those nasty comments is her work to help victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and LGBTQ rights. She is well educated, well spoken, and strong in her convictions. She didn't disengage from the fight she knew was right, she hit Rush out of bounds and performed a text-book drag and drop by calling out those shenanigans for what they were; a needless distraction from the real issue at hand, the rights of women and the misogynistic culture which allows  discussion of a woman's private life as fodder for the masses. She can be a blocker on my line any day. 
Derby name: Crusher McFluster

Psycho Sirens: Ke$ha -- Jammer
            Alright, I know; everyone’s thinking: “Seriously?  Ke$ha?”  The singer who talks about being openly promiscuous, drinking too much, and calling people dirty names?  Ke$ha has all of the glitz and glam that people associate with derby, but more over she turns the pop music tables on how men in rock bands and rappers can get away with objectifying women and not vice versa.  Ke$ha might shock the average derby-virgin with her jukes and jives but the point would be made and scored.  By the time she rounds the track again, the dawning realization of the situation has everyone going “I get it now.”  She won’t hide who she is, empowered and an individual, and who can hit just like any man.
Derby name: Rose Sebert.

Welcome to your new home teams ladies of FoCo. We can't wait to see you on the track for our historic season opener March 16th. We'll be at the Qdoba Events Center, having the MOST fun you can have on eight wheels. Boom.

Derby Love,
Mollytov Maguire and MomeRath