April 25, 2013

Come join our Cult!

Roller Derby has such an interesting culture.  And by culture I mean we're a mafia of awesome.  We're very protective of our own much like a family.  We look out for each other, keep each other safe, and if someone messes with one of us, they get all of us.  You would think that a set up like this would be very inclusive, but in fact we're always trying to get others to drink the derby kool-aid.  Last week, a cute little button if a girl showed up to our Thursday warm up/workout session.  Ken Minifield (our fitness trainer) brought her over to me and said, "Skank, this is Jessica.  Take care of her tonight."  This girl knew no one.  She hadn't come because her friend told her to or because she saw "Whip It", she came because she saw how this sport had affected us and she wanted to see that change in herself.

I brought her over to the rest of the girls and announced, "Hey ladies, this is Jessica.  She came to our bout last Friday and is thinking of joining our league."  I was met with clapping, cheering, and smiles from everyone in the league.  I felt so proud to be in a league where instead of being inclusive and wanting to stick with the familiar, we welcomed someone we didn't know because we knew how much derby had changed our lives.

This is the kind of attitude that needs to bleed out of us.  Instead of being shy to our co-workers about the sport that we play, or feeling like we're inconveniencing our friends whenever we ask them to come to a bout, instead we should just welcome them to something that makes us so happy.  "Hey, this has changed my life.  Come and enjoy this with me and we'll share this together."  When people see you truly immersed and happy about something, they can't help but want to know what it is. 

Many people I've invited to my bouts have fallen in love with roller derby.  My husband brings cowbells to every bout and is constantly trying to be the loudest fan in the whole place.  Some of my friends have bought season passes and shirts from my fan club.  My parents come simply because they love me.  Whatever your involvement is with roller derby, invite others to share in your happiness.  They might not fall head over heels in love with it like you did, but sharing this sport with others is one of the reasons it's so special to us.  They will mourn your losses with you and celebrate your victories, and who knows?  Maybe one day they'll strap on a pair of skates and join you on the track.


The Original Skankster

April 18, 2013

A Blast from the Past

Something pretty special happened to me last week. A friend from a long time ago reached out to me and thanked me for doing derby. She thanked me because hearing about my struggles and successes on the track allowed her to dream big and join her local league too. She is fresh meat and I am proud of her. This friend and I haven't really talked much in the last 10 years, but I did run into her a few months back at a bar in her neck of the woods. I mentioned that I was doing derby and it had changed my life. She said it was this brief conversation coupled with my incessant derby talk on social media that gave her the nudge she needed to do it.

She also told me something that broke my heart a little. A few years back, she ran into a player for a very prominent local team and asked about joining, but this person was not very polite or encouraging. She thought derby was for jerks and spent a long time dreaming about it but demotivated to do it. I can only speculate about this made her feel, but it would make me feel bad. As if that person could see failure written all over my face and that derby was for other people. People who were cooler than me. People who were more athletic than me. People who had crazier hair, or more tattoos, or less body fat, or more confidence, or... something. Now of course, she knows better. Derby is for everyone! Weeeee!

From what it sounds like, her league is similar to mine. They're a bunch of rad women who encourage one another to push harder and be better. She is learning to find the love of gliding on eight wheels, and from what it sounds like, will be hitting and falling very soon. Oh the days of being fresh meat... It made me reminisce about my own experience. Learning the T-Stop or doing Plow stops until you can't walk the next day were things that I had to go through too, and not that long ago.

I remember a lot about being where she is now. I hope that sharing my experiences will help her as she moves up. I am glad that my words have inspired even one person and, frankly, its why I share them. When I was new, I can remember having "derby anxiety" every week before practice. I would be so nervous to go because there were a whole lot of "what-if's" swirling around my head.

What if I couldn't do this? What if they ladies didn't like me? What if the things my ex said about me were true? It was that last one that was a big damn deal to me. That man thought I was the laziest overweight complainer of all time. He was always trying to get me to go to the gym and I just couldn't. Something that was unknown to either of us at the time was that I had a serious health issue that was causing me a lot of pain. I had been suffering from it for pretty much as long as I could remember and had been called a hypochondriac for just as long. Because of this, I had normalized the pain and it made me really depressed.  Before this diagnosis, I thought I was destined to be fat and unhappy because that was just the way my body was built.

Anyway, there I was, overweight, depressed, lonely, and hurting from a horrific shit storm of a breakup that left me empty, tired and used up. When I found derby, it wasn't an immediate love. There were nights that were crying in the bottom of the shower, there was a lot of self doubt, but eventually learned to surrender those things to people who knew me better than I knew myself at that time. My trainers were experienced and had worked with new recruits of all skill levels for years. I had to learn to trust that even though they were strangers to me, somehow I wasn't a stranger to them. At least my body wasn't. They knew how to work with it and mold me into a teammate. So, to the ex who didn't think I could do it: F#@K YOU. And to the future derby player from my past: THANK YOU. I thought I was getting the derby blues, but between talking to you and missing the last bout, I am ready to hit the track again. Sometimes, the smallest things make the biggest difference. That and a little trip down memory lane to remind myself why I play.

Derby Love,

Mollytov Maguire

P.S. To my fresh meat friend: we have shared a lot in the past, things that were both beautiful and difficult. I am so excited that you're a derby girl because, hopefully, we get to make a new relationship built on happier times for us both. See you soon, let me know when you're ready for that derby date!

April 11, 2013

Boutfits for Everyone!

When I hear the word "uniform" I immediately become incredibly bored. Thoughts of lycra, mesh, sweaty, smelly garments pop into my head and I immediately want to think of something else.  This is not the case with derby.  The uniforms are fun and sexy!  Why?  Because derby ladies are fun and sexy, and we're anything but boring!  We're fun, loud, aggressive, exciting ladies and we want our clothing to reflect that about us.  We play a tough, grueling sport, but we want to enjoy what we do by feeling free to express our individuality.

Now, the most crucial part of the derby outfit is the tights.  Don't ask me why, I don't know.  The rule of thumb it: the louder the tights the better.  Whoever has the best tights wins a secret competition between all of us ladies, and we're always excited to show each other our awesome finds.  From fishnets to solid patterns, our tights probably reflect who we are more than anything else we wear.  When I'm feeling sassy I tend to wear lace and fishnets, but when I'm feeling fun I like to wear more patterns.  Next time you see a bout, pay attention to the tights being worn, and you'll learn a lot about the derby girl you thought you knew.

A lot of people like watching the sport of roller derby, and although the athleticism makes it appealing, I know quite a few people that come to see the booty's.  Ladies in booty shorts as far as the eye can see!  What's not to like about that?  It's a major plus to our sport, and it just so happens that booty shorts are incredibly comfortable to play in.  Now, booty shorts are not for the timid- it requires a certain amount of bravery to wear them in front of your family, co-workers, and friends.  But hey, if we weren't bold we wouldn't play roller derby.

Socks.  Socks.  Socks.  I love socks.  Socks can be individualized as tights, and there are some great ones out there.  My derby sister, Mome Rath, for Christmas received over 20 pairs of brand spankin' new socks from her boyfriend.  I cannot describe my jealousy.  I seriously almost murdered her for them, but instead I just decided that I have to go shopping instead...
The Skirt.  Although not as common as the booty short, the skirt is a great option for turning up the sass.  Tutus are the staple; super loud and crazy fun to play in!  My personal favorite is the catholic school girl skirt; both feminine and wicked hot, it's easy to skate in and bound to make my man drool a little bit.

The one piece of our uniform that people tend to overlook is our helmets.  Highly decorated and adorned, this piece of safety equipment takes on a whole new purpose.  They protect our heads from crazy falls, but it gives us another opportunity to use stickers, paint, and cover things in glitter!  Using your helmet as flare is a time-honored tradition, one which should not be taken lightly.  If there's a skill a derby girl really needs to know, it's how to apply glitter.

Well now that you have the fashion breakdown of the derby boutfit, you need to know that it's not the reason why we play derby.  We play derby because we're athletes, we believe in sisterhood, and we enjoy being challenged.  This is what roller derby is really about; not fishnets and booty shorts, but empowering ourselves to become something better.

April 3, 2013

The Woman of my Dreams

So, I went to the dentist last weekend. I had a cavity that needed filling and a cleaning. I am not usually the type of person who gets uptight about that kind of thing. I am the "fake it until you make it" kind of gal, the one who smiles like she means it, even when she doesn't, because eventually she will. Chalk it up to lessons learned, but I have found that smiling and laughing even though I don't mean it is a lot easier than telling people about all the dark, nasty, shit that permeates most of my thoughts. Anyway, for whatever reason, I was a little nervous about this visit and I decided that liquid courage wasn't in the cards for a 10am dentist's appointment, so what did I do? Put on my Cinderhellas jersey. Seriously. And the socks that say "Bad Ass" with arrows that point upward. I wore derby gear to the appointment and it worked out pretty well for me.

The dentist and nurses were amazed with my ability to grin and bear it, to take their shenanigans in stride, and laugh when I just wanted to scream "Get your effing hands out of my mouth!" Needless to say, the appointment went fine, my pearly whites are a bit pearlier than they were the week before and I felt like a rockstar. I thought to myself about how I was learning to use my on the track confidence to take care of muh BIDness off the track. How else did I parlay this new found knowledge of using derby in my regular life? Well, Mr. Maguire didn't appreciate my "That's a major" comments in the kitchen, but it did help when I was making a big presentation at work I successfully hyped myself up by thinking "You've got this Molly!" Since when did my inner monologue make the switch? It changed from the name I was given to the name I had chosen. Wow.

I have always been a  person who thinks that the words we choose to say (or not say) speak volumes for us. I remember the moment I realized that I no longer thought of myself as a girl and that I thought of myself as a woman instead, that my monologue had changed. In my own head, when I thought about myself I wasn't thinking "I am a pretty awesome girl" and I had made a full time change in my head to "I am a really kick-ass woman." This realization made me carry myself a little better and it was the leap that gave me confidence to be the kind of woman who does roller derby.

Last week's blog from the Original Skankster really made me think not just about investing in myself for the future, but also that the investments of my youth had become returns in the present day. Not punishing myself for the mistakes of the past was the best choice I have ever made. It has allowed me to be older and wiser but not infallible. I get to be a woman of distinction, a woman who knows better (but doesn't always act that way), and most of all the woman of my dreams.

I look back on the difference between who I was at 20 and who I am at 30 and I am downright proud of some of my accomplishments. The ones that make me puff up like a little peacock are not the ones that are sitting on my parents mantle. There wasn't a picture to mark those occasions, it was just the fact that I knew that I could do more. I could move to a foreign country full of strangers. Or, that I could survive and THRIVE after the worst heartbreak I had ever known. I do wonder what the next decade will bring and if the changes that I will see in myself between 30 and 40 will be as dramatic but one can only hope. I am, after all, a work in progress. Roller derby has been an EXCELLENT tool to sculpt me into the woman I want to be; the kind of woman that kids I don't yet have will be proud of.

Here's to doing more than hoping I will be that woman. Tonight, a raise a glass in honor of the girl that was, the woman that is, and the woman I have yet to become.

Derby Love,
Mollytov Maguire