October 25, 2013

Show me that Smile Again

My body hurts all the time. Just a little bit, but it's seriously ALL THE TIME. My hips are tight and my knee is stiff. My ankle pops and my lower back aches. It's getting close to the end of the season and I am burnt out. Practice nights mean that I am not getting to bed before midnight and it feels like there is no end in sight. There is a derby event seemingly every weekend. Public appearances, bouts, meetings, and more meetings. I have league meetings and board meetings, there are committee meetings and special Sunday coffee meetings to talk about that special bout we're thinking about. I am there early and I stay late. This is my derby life.

It didn't start out this way. I thought it would get me out of the house, get me active, and help me meet people. Which, well, mission accomplished. I joined the league and had 50 new close friends. I don't know when things changed, but they have. Somewhere along the line, I became totally infatuated with derby. The more I learned about it, the more ingrained in the culture I became. I talked about the merits of different wheels and pads, which bearings to buy, and different styles and brands of boots. I have talked about strategy; from eating the baby to passive offense. I have watched hours of playoffs and have yelled at the T.V. to "Back bridge!!" and let the defense know there is a "Jammer standing!!" more times than I can count.

No, this is not an announcement of retirement, but I can say, that like with any relationship, the new-ness has worn off and I am left with the reality of derby. A reality that is always challenging. Our "season"  is pretty much year round. While other sports play from September to January, we practice for 10 1/2 months together. Taking December off and a a few weeks in the summer. It's a marathon, not a sprint. I practice with my team a minimum of 6 hours a week and am expected (but have trouble with) training on my own outside of practice, to eat right, to be at my peak of performance for MORE THAN 1O MONTHS OF THE YEAR. I do not get paid for this, rather, I pay to do it. I give my time, my money, my body, and my heart to this sport and my league.

I live and breathe FoCo. I had a dream the other night about having paid positions in my league one day. An actual dream. Not like, "I have a dream" but I was laying in bed, my eyes were closed, by subconscious was running the movie behind my eyelids and I dreamt about my hopes for the league someday and I dreamt that I was a part of them still. Dedication, no? That same night, another league member had a dream that I could jump the apex and we were all on ESPN.

I wonder how far we are from those derby dreams. No, no. I don't mean me jumping the apex. (I am not going to use the word "impossible" for that, because you never know.... but it's awesome knowing that someone has that much faith in me!) I mean from being a major sport in the world. What will that look like? What do we need to sacrifice in order to mainstream? Are the 2020 Olympics something that we want to pursue? Are the small people like me going to be left behind? I love the fact that I, personally, have had a hand in building this league. I love that so many others do too. It was here long before me, and god willing, will be long after me. I love that part of WFTDA's member league requirements are that all leagues are at least 80% operated by skaters. What does that look like as the outside world comes in? What does it look like as we let them in?

As the sport grows, as our athleticism increases, as we surrender to the mainstream more and more, I remember the things that attracted me to it. Beautiful women of all shapes, sizes, and ages wearing fishnets and sparkle booty shorts with PRIDE, having ridiculous names like "Suzy MuffinCrusher" and "iOna Switchblade", and being an unabashadly powerful force of womanhood. The epitome of confidence. That is what they are to me still. That is what I am to me now. If I lay down my derby name and short-shorts at the altar of my future (as yet non-existent) daughter's Olympic dreams, what am I telling her about the sport I helped to shape and build?

I came to derby because it was offbeat, because it was non-tradtitional. If we lose the things that make us non-tradtional in order to get to what someone else thinks is "the next level" are we willing to also lose the good things they bring us? If the culture of derby was like  soccer, volleyball, or basketball I can't say that I would still be here now, nor might I have signed up those 2 years ago. Here's to the last year FoCo Girls Gone Derby, and the next. I love you all.

Derby Love,

Mollytov Maguire

Final thought: with derby being featured in the 2018 Gay Games and own known commitment to LBGTQ rights and equality, how could we knowingly send our athletes to places like Russia for the Olympics? Discuss.

October 3, 2013

From Left Turns to T-Bones, It's Progress

Terrible derp face on my part.
Awesome shot from Pixel This Photography
Something seems to have clicked. Finally. I was coming to peace with the fact that I might always play derby badly. That I may never "get" it and that the fun of being out there with my friends might have to be enough. And then the planets aligned and I made it to another level. I am not going to say that I am anywhere near a level that could be considered competitive but I am saying that this is the best I have ever played. I had 3 weeks of scrimmages in which I didn't cry ONCE and more importantly, I didn't want to cry either. It was just fun. It felt like home. Like I belonged on the track with my team.

I had lines that I played with consistently and I understood most of my role out there with them. I felt how they were playing and positioned myself accordingly. And then there was the bout. The Punchy Brewsters are FoCo's traveling "B" team. We don't play sanctioned bouts, but we play with HEART man! There were two such bouts in as many weeks for us and I was disappointed in my performance in it. I had been doing actual derby things in the scrimmages leading up, my on-track-confidence was at an all time high, and I thought I was ready. Instead, I as a person making left turns amid a derby bout (or so I felt) and that was sucky.
Pixel This Photography

I prayed to the derby gods that the bout the following weekend would be different. That I would hit other people and I would work hard to stay with my line and get to the front when it was time. I SWORE those were things I could do, but doubt started working its way in. I started to wonder if I could only play well (or what felt like it to me) at scrimmage? Were the only people who would ever know that I sometimes hit people the ones who skated/reffed/NSO'ed on Thursday nights?

I can remember other people starting to get good, DAMN GOOD, at derby. Starrmageddeon for example. I can remember our first scrimmage after our winter break last year when she went to hit me and there was some serious MEAT on that hit. I just looked at her and thought "Oh god. I am pretty sure I am the worst player in this league." and the same thing when C.C. ShebashYa jammed right past me later in practice. I wondered how I became worse at derby over the break and they got better. I was, again, not trying to judge myself too harshly about my skills or abilities, really trying to not punish myself for the lack thereof.

Aw yeah! I'm BOOTY BLOCKING in this shot.
Not just turning left.
Precision 10 Images
With these feelings building over the year (a year that will go down in the history books are the worst ever) it was getting harder and harder to be motivated to come to practice. And then it began. The climb to greatness. Or in my case, no being the worst skater on the track at all times-ness. It just clicked. I have heard a thousand times that with doing things you're dedicated to there is sometimes a plateau point. A point at which your skills don't seem to be improving or growing. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, they explode. This is what happened for me.

I am so glad I stuck it out through those doldrums. I think that I had to learn to love derby even if I was never going to be any good at all in order to start the great skill ascent again. I am pretty sure this is for life now. I said a while back that I felt like a derby poser before I bouted and now I realize that I *maybe* never stopped feeling that way. Until now. I really REALLY feel like I am part of the team. Not just a body on the track that makes left turns. It feels damn good people!

Derby love,

Mollytov Maguire