May 8, 2014

Suga's Goodbye Playlist

I have always been the kind of person to apply song lyrics to certain situations. Whether it’s time to party and “Shots” by LMFAO & Lil Jon comes screeching from my mouth or it’s a dreary day and I listen to sad indie music; I’ve always had a playlist to coincide with my mood. When I first started playing Roller Derby there was one lyric that always stood out as my personal viewpoint to derby. This little nugget of gold came from Ani DeFranco’s song Little Plastic Castle, “I wish they could see us now, in leather bras and rubber shorts, like some ridiculous team uniform, for some ridiculous new sport. Quick someone call the girl police, and file a report”. That little snippet always made me smile and think about Roller Derby.

More than 4 years later, I have a whole new playlist for my Roller Derby experience. As some of you may know, Mary Poppin’ Caps and I are moving out of Fort Collins to the big city of Chicago. It was a decision that was not made in haste and leaving our Derby Family was the biggest decision to weigh. Now that the time has come for us to say our final goodbyes (our last bout with FoCo is this weekend at the Mayday Mayhem tournament hosted by Slaughterhouse Derby Girls), the only way I see fit to do so is to share my Goodbye Playlist.

Bye Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye) by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

The song starts out with Frankie Valli saying “If you hate me after what I say, Can't put it off any longer, I just gotta tell you anyway”. This lyric makes me think of the fact that I literally cannot speak about the move in front of Ms. Eerie Bizness without her either crying or yelling at me. The song follows with the entire band singing, “Bye bye baby, baby goodbye. Bye Bye Baby, don't make me cry”. For obvious reasons, this lyric automatically makes me want to cry. FoCo, please don’t make me cry (ya’ll know I hate crying in public).

Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye  by Steam

Another obvious choice for a goodbye playlist, but this song also reminds me of FoCo specifically. At Wild West this year, Coach Paul had the MicroBruisers watch Remember the Titans before our first bout. It was one of the best bonding experiences I have ever had with FoCo. We joked about what FoCo player would be each character ( Miz was obvious the big guy that sang constantly), and just sat around and enjoyed each others company. Every time I hear this song I will remember The Original Skankster turning to Coach Paul and saying “Sheryl. Sheryl. Sheryl. I. Do. Not. Care” multiple times that weekend.

Cowboy Boots by Macklemore

Everyone knows I love me some Macklemore, especially after our fantastic choreography at the 2013 St. Patty’s Day Parade to Thrift Shop. However, Cowboy Boots is a song in a completely different category than Thrift Shop. Cowboy Boots is a bittersweet song about leaving the ones you love and remembering the good times. Honestly, with a few tweaks this song could easily become an ode to Derby. Switch “kids” to “derby girls”, “city blocks” to “practice space”, “high heels” and “cowboy boots” to “skate boots” and you have a perfect Derby ballad. It’s a song about the nuances of a summer with friends in your city, but could easily be about a season playing roller derby. A few of the lyrics really hit home when I think about leaving, “Hold on to what you were, forget what you're not. The streets were ours that summer, at least those two blocks. Reminisce on those days, I guess that's OK, you wonder why, Some grow up, move on, close the chapter, live separate lives. The twenty-something confusion before the suit and tie. Strangers become mistakes but those mistakes made you feel alive. Hindsight is vibrant, reality: rarely lit. Memory's a collage pasted on to glue that barely sticks. Good Lord, they broke all my shields. Locked bathroom doors, graffiti, and high heels. Until you felt that altitude you don't know how high feels. Party mountain, some don't ever come down from around here. To be young again, I guess it's relative: The camel lights, the whiskey rye, sink into the skin. I fantasize about a second win. Grow a moustache (leg hair?), pick up another bad habit and let the games begin”. There is so much in that verse that I could go into and explain how it pertains to me and my derby experience, but I will let you draw your own conclusions.

Derby came to me during a transitional point in my life: I was finishing up college and trying to find out who I wanted to be. FoCo and the wonderful women of the league taught me so many life lessons that I can’t even begin to describe in this blog post. As I say my goodbyes, there are a few things I need to ask the ladies of FoCo to do for me. Someone needs to sing Disney songs with Miz at practice. Someone needs to say “Hallelu”, “Preach” or “Church” when agreeing with a statement at least once a practice. Someone on the Sirens needs to keep the Fishnet Rink Rash makeup tradition going. And finally, always skate with dignity and grace, and keep your heads up. You ladies mean the world to me and I don’t how I could ever repay you for the lessons you have all taught me.

I would like to finish this blog post in the wise words of Macklemore, “And acquaintances turn to friends, I hope those friends they remember me. Hold the night for ransom as we kidnap the memories.  Not sure there is a way to express what you meant to me, Sit around a table and use those years as the centerpiece”.

It bears repeating, “Not sure there is a way to express what you meant to me”.

With all of my love,

Suga Smaxxx

May 1, 2014

Buying Lego's.

Building a house is never easy. It takes months of planning, hard labor, and lots of split decisions along the way. Now imagine pouring the foundation, building the frame, putting in the plumbing and wiring, and finishing the drywall. You've put bricks on half of the house and the second story is partially finished. Oh- and the garage has had the cement poured. It's been months but your almost done, right? Now I'm going to tell you that you built the house wrong, that it was resting on shaky ground, and that you need to tear the whole thing down, move it 6 feet to the right, and start over.

You're psyched, right? I mean, who doesn't want to put in all that extra work night after night when they already have a fine shelter and a thunderstorm is on the way? Now, if you couldn't tell (and I really hope you could), I'm being sarcastic. No one wants to tear down all the work they've done when they've got a perfectly good fireplace and all of their teddy bears are already placed in their room right alongside their unicorn alarm clock. Rebuilding takes work and it's not always a sure thing. What if you tear down the house and the construction crew stops showing up? What if it snows and delays your plans to pour the concrete? Nothing is guaranteed, which is why rebuilding is so hard, but so important.

Just in case you drifted off during the first two paragraphs, yes, this is still a post about roller derby. Derby is never consistent; rules change, players leave for a variety of reasons, people no longer have the time or means to travel, or committee work takes over, and it seems like our league is always in a state of flux where our player pool is always changing. We knew we needed to change some things in order to accommodate this ever changing sport, so we decided that we were going to do something things a little bit differently this season. This year we got something we'd never really had before- an actual coach who's invested in us and ready to start winning. We started doing fitness requirements to get our ladies to start working out outside of derby. We started doing a more intense off-skates warm up. We started formulating and implementing new strategy. We brought in a nutritionist to teach us about healthy eating for our active bodies. We started honing in on specific skills that would give us an edge on the track, and we stopped allowing people to feel entitled to their position simply because they had been around a long time. These were hard changes to make or implement; some people felt picked on or that the work load would be too much for them. Some of us just felt shaken up, worried that everything we had built was going to be tossed in the garbage. It was definitely a massive culture and attitude change, but when we all packed our bags and headed to the Wild West Showdown in March, not one player felt like they hadn't earned their spot on the team. We had all put in the sweat, tears, long nights, and burning muscles to get there, and because we all knew we had earned it, we felt more like a team than ever before.

I came to realize that some people were not willing to rebuild our foundation. Whether it be impatience, an unwillingness to be challenged, or just that they needed a more competitive platform, it was hard losing these valuable players. That being said, I would do it all over again. We're not finished, not even by a long shot, but we've torn down the old structure and we're slowly and steadily rebuilding to have a more solid future. Even though it's thoroughly depressing to stand and look down upon an empty hole where you once had your house, we're building this brick by brick and bolt by bolt in order to stay steady when we lose skaters to anything from pregnancy to career changes. We want out team to remain strong even when we only have 8 skaters to play an entire bout with. So, if your team or your heart is facing the old dilemma of where you want to be with roller derby, just ask yourself:

Do you want to right the ship, or do you want to build a new one?

Cheers,

The Original Skankster

April 24, 2014

My Weight Loss Journey

So why did you join roller derby? This is usually one of the first questions someone asks me when they find out I joined the sport. I respond to that question similarly to most of the things in my life- I did it on a whim. After all, I had never attended a bout. I knew little, if anything, about the sport and after years of broken bones, sprains, and injuries from riding horses, the idea of getting back into a full contact hobby was a little daunting- yet here I was, investing a small fortune into tights, knee-high socks, and glitter. Yes, it was a whim, but there was another, larger force at work.

Instead of being thin and lithe growing up, I was built more like a Mustang horse...short and hardy. Since humor was something that came naturally, it was easy to be the chubby, witty girl in a group of friends. Even though I knew I was overweight, I still had a positive self-image and a voracious appetite for food and life. Over the years, the weight had crept up and instead of getting things under control, I told jokes. Then I stopped going out with friends. Then I rarely stopped moving my body from the couch or bed unless it was for work.

"Got fat." There it was- two words jumping out at me when I accidentally glanced down at my audition sheet for a community theater production in 2011. "Egads" was one of the words that ran through my head followed by a series of swear words. The director of the show was not attempting to be mean or rude; in fact, the audition sheet is solely for the use of the director and was not meant to be seen by yours truly. Nevertheless, words were written and inadvertently seen by me, proving the hard truth that I had deliberately been ignoring for the past few years. In all actuality, it didn't hurt when I read what someone else saw when they looked at me. Instead it helped me become resolved.

I joined Weight Watchers the day after the audition. I was cast in the show, ironically named, "Eat Your Heart Out" and told the director that by the time the show opened that I would be 20 pounds lighter. Nine weeks later, I was 19.6 pounds lighter. In less than a year, I had shed 60 pounds and began to find a smaller me within.

But this is not a story focused on Weight Watchers or the power one has to rise up from the ashes of couchdom. This is my secret reason for joining roller derby that I have rarely divulged...until now. The reason I joined roller derby is because I need to be the healthiest I can be. This doesn't translate to a dress size 2 for me, but it does translate to muscle tone and finding my collarbone without digging my fingers into my neck, and eventually making that mile jog in less than 10 minutes. Intentionally or unintentionally, my teammates hold me accountable to keep attending practice and keep me moving. At 25 years old I was borderline diabetic and my cholesterol numbers had doctors discussing medications that I had only heard about on commercials. Whether they know it or not, my Foco Girls Gone Derby league-mates have helped me keep those numbers beaten back with a well-wielded stick...of quad skates. Will roller derby help you lose weight? I can't really say, but considering the health risks I could face by going back to my stagnant lifestyle, roller derby is help saving my life.

Dyer's Eve

April 17, 2014

Get Low - The Emotional Timeline

Even before I got on skates, "get low" was the anthem I learned when starting my journey with FocoGirlsGoneDerby. My first day of training I was an exact representation of what a baby dear on ice looks like, where I was simply told by the coach to "get low." Not heeding her advice, I continued to spend the majority of my practices on the floor not being able to stabilize myself, or do any of the exercises. The lingering phrase "get low" was told to me once again. Feeling defeated, and like a failure I almost wanted to throw in the towel.

I suddenly decided that giving up was not an option. I spent the days I didn't have practice in front of my house and at Rollerland practicing squatting on skates and skating as low as I could possibly muster. When we began to learn hits and blocking, I found that I needed to be even lower than I had anticipated, so I started squatting while doing the dishes, brushing my teeth, even at work if I could sneak it in. What I came to learn as I was being hip-checked to the ground is that the lower you skate, the easier it is to not only take hits but to do anything in roller derby. It was a whole new world as I finally started to have fun and improve. So, new recruits, when you feel like you're going to give up or that you made a mistake starting derby, just get low!  -Ginger SnapHer

Free this Saturday? Even if you're not, cancel them plans and head on over to watch our kick-ass Punchy Brewsters take on the High City Derby Dames! Traveling all the way from Aurora, these ladies are eager for to win, so this bout should be an intense firefight! Come to Qdoba Event Center at 218 Smokey St. in Fort Collins in order to experience the food, beer, crowd, and fun we have in store for you. The bout starts at 7pm, but the doors open at 6:30 so you can make sure to snag your favorite seat in the booty zone! Come and support your favorite roller derby league and we'll make sure you'll have a great time! Tickets can be purchased here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/610896

See you track-side!

April 4, 2014

Mollytov Maguire's Top 10 Derby Moments

Sometimes, in derby, conflict happens. This can be between players, between teams, between skaters and refs. Conflict is hard. I am not a fan. I don't like to manage people, I don't want to fight. I mean, I am Irish, so I kinda do but I know that it's not really productive. I like it when everyone does what they need to do and they come to events at their scheduled time or they complete the committee work they were asked to with no additional nudging from me. But alas, this is not the role of a board member. This gal, sometimes has to be the bad guy and that sucks. I am the kind of person who likes to focus on the positive, feel like I have a role in being the change I want to see in others.

So, instead of writing a bunch of crap about how much derby drama sucks, I am going to write a top 10 list. Here are my Top 10 derby moments:

10. That time when my cousin, Smashrodite, joined the league. We have been good friends for most of our lives despite a 10 year age gap. I love the shit outta her and I am SO. FLIPPING. GLAD. that she a) joined derby and b) joined my league. I love having a good friend that is learning how to speak my fave language in the family. No more will I sit awkwardly by myself at family events talking about the weather or whatever. NOW we're a team!

9. That time I did more than just turn left. It took me a while to feel like I was doing anything at all when I was skating. I still have scrimmages and even games where I am pretty sure the only productive thing I did was turn left and stay with the pack. But I can still remember the first time I did something. It was a scrimmage and I was skating with Battle E. Portman and she is a great communicator and I just... did stuff. It was AWESOME!

My poster with Unchained Malady
8.  That time I played with Unchained Malady. Mal is a friend from life. She had wanted to join derby, but didn't want to step on my toes and as soon as she figured out that I would be STOKED to have her in my league, she was all up on that shizz. We've never looked back. I have loved having her there. She is my rock. She has gotten me through, what I consider to be, some if my toughest times with derbs and is one of the main reasons I am still skating. First time we scrimmaged together and I screamed my face off for her when she jammed, I teared up. No joke.

7. That time I got my first jersey. Someone once laughed at me for feeling great about this moment, but I don't care. It meant a lot to me. It still means a lot to me. I wear it to the gyno and the dentist and all the places I don't really want to be because it makes me feel powerful. In a good way. Not like an "I will rain lightning down from the sky!" type of way. Just a general, good, confident, strong woman way.

6. That time that I realized I could skate through the pain. There was a dark moment in my life almost 2 years ago. My grandfather and my uncle passed away in the same month and I went to practice and told Double Destruction (our new recruit trainer at the time) "I want to hate you more than my life tonight. Can we do that?" and she obliged. As I geared down, I realized that I had been too busy to be sad and my grief had lifted for two amazing hours. I knew I could and would be a skater in that moment.

5. That time at my first derby strategic planning retreat when Mudgie talked to me by the fire. There I was, being all awkward and not knowing anyone and she talked with me. She was the first veteran outside of my trainer who made me feel welcome. I will always love her for that kindness. Well, that and many others since then.

4. That time at handbilling last night when Suzy hugged me and Battle E. had just the right words. I've been struggling lately and it was what I needed. It made me feel happy ALL DAMN DAY today. Thanks ladies!

3. That time I bouted for the first time. It was Black and Blue Ball. I had a kick-ass dress. My family made matching "Mollytov" shirts and pretty much everyone in turn three screamed their faces off for me. L.A.'s Finest it me into the booty zone, and I won "Best Dressed." I still have the sash. AND Team Black won the bout!

I know I've used this picture before,
but it's still awesome!
2. That time I learned how to give myself a break and didn't cry after jamming. I don't jam often, but I am working on this. I have still had practices where I didn't live up to my promise to jam at least once, each 1/2 of each scrimmage. I try though. Sometimes, I just don't have the lady-balls. There was this one time, and it was this season, where I jammed, and I didn't cry after. It wasn't that bad!

1. That one time that that I proposed to my derby wives. They're no longer with my league, but I miss them all the time. Femme and Mome are some of the best people I have known. Also, they've both changed their names, but they'll always be my wives, no matter when they're called. They're an inspiration for me still. I don't care that they're skating with other leagues, I love them all the loves!!

Derby Love,

Mollytov Maguire

March 21, 2014

Does No One Here Care About the Rules?!

Another spring; another rule set.  What's a girl to do?  Alas, it's the sport we play.  The rules seem to change like the weather in March, and if you want to enjoy the sport you love and not spend the entire time in the box, then you have to hit the books! Luckily, I've become somewhat familiar with the new rules using my large brain and will gladly give you a run-down of how these new rules affect you.  So come, join me, we'll walk through the glorious meadow of new rules together.

Now I have to hand it to WFTDA, this new rule set ain't half bad. Some really great changes have been made that really tickle my fancy. First: 30 SECOND GORRAM PENALTIES. 30 seconds! Bask in the delight, people, Christmas just came early.
The Good: Power jams won't be so brutal. With only 30-35 seconds to score points, a jammer will only be able to make around 3-4 passes if they slice through the pack like buttah, which will only result in around 15-20 points; maybe even less than that depending on how great your wall is. This is a game changer. It will definitely make bouts a little more evenly keeled and better represent the distinguishing qualities between teams.
The Bad: When 30 second penalties were announced, there were praises of joy throughout the land! People danced in the streets! Maidens were kissed by strangers! As great as it is to spend less time in the box, skaters failed to realize right away that they'll fail out way faster, and if your jammer isn't disciplined, she can fail out before the first half ends (and then you're out one of your jammers for the entire second half). This means that your team has to be incredibly disciplined and play clean. I think it's even more important to stay out of the box now than it ever was before, and whoever can stay out of the box will take home the win.
Synopsis: You guessed it! It's the same as it's always been. Stay out of the box.



Yielding: Thank GOODNESS this rule got changed. This was by far the most asinine rule of all time. Having to go back a full lap for having a sliver of a wheel behind the line was lame, and frankly a bit dangerous. Now a player can yield (give enough time for the opposing team to gain position) and then re-enter the engagement zone.
The Good: It makes more sense. Being able to yield instead of going back behind the entire pack while staying in bounds is a lot safer. The old rule set caused a lot of necessary run-ins and collisions.
The Bad: Sometimes an opposing skater isn't paying attention to how close she is to the line, and you can draw that penalty.  Now, you can't. She'll just have to wait a few seconds and rejoin the pack.
Synopsis: I like this rule!

Cutting the Track: How many times have you tried to go back to prevent a cut and one little sliver of wheel has thwarted you?! No longer! We are free from the chains of cutting when our true intention was to yield! Well, not totally, you still have to make sure that both wheels don't go back on the track, but this rule is the best rule ever (in my opinion).
The Good: The reason why I like this rule change is because it tried to take into account intent. I intended to yield, and because my intentions were pure, I don't get punished for making a stupid mistake. Now, this rule doesn't actually measure intent per se, but it does give you a break when you're obviously just trying to get to the back of the pack and you're skates just aren't agreeing with you.
The Bad: It's going to be a little harder to draw that track cut penalty now, which can really help a team out. With that, if you manage to draw the track cut penalty, it's a 30 second power jam. Going along with what I said earlier, this will mean less power jams in general and more evenly scored bouts when teams are mostly of the same caliber. Essentially, there will be less bouts where the team has a "bad day" and the score is a blow-out. It's also a lot harder for refs to watch for this, so mistakes will be made, and it might get a little heated because of it.
Synopsis: Hey, don't cut still.

Well that's all I'm going over today, folks.  I know not all of the rules were addressed, but make sure to read them over yourself at http://wftda.com/rules/change-summary/rules-2014-03-01. Knowledge is power! And knowing the rules will give you an upper hand in any bout. See you on the track!

Cheers,

The Original Skankster

March 14, 2014

Non Skating Officials - Heart and Soul in Roller Derby

For many years I had been interested in roller derby, despite having never attended a bout. It wasn’t until I met two co-workers, Unchained Malady and Mollytov Maguire, who spoke so enthusiastically about their league, FoCo Girls Gone Derby that I finally decided to go to their 2013 Season Opener home team bout. I was sold.

After attending a New Recruit Informational Meeting shortly thereafter my derby dreams began to blossom. I was GOING to be a skater and I was GOING to skate in my first bout before the end of the year. I admired and idolized other skaters in my league, listened to their advice and pushed myself to become a better athlete. However, my body had other plans...

Towards the end of my 5th practice as a new recruit I sustained a patellar dislocation to my knee, a common injury amongst female athletes and the 9th I had experienced the same injury. Discouraged, I began the long road back to skating. For those considering skating themselves, I have since found training tips and gear to help prevent knee injuries like this.

Once seeded the love of derby can only continue to grow. Before I even began skating as a new recruit, I was invited by the league to attend scrimmages and learn the rules of Women’s Flat Track Derby as an NSO (thanks to my derby wife, ZZ Stardust.) Team Flamingo (nickname inspired by the pink official’s shirts) became my home as I worked to get back on skates.


For the Non-Derby readers, NSO stands for Non-Skating Official. NSO's are volunteers, sometimes injured skaters like me, who LOVE the game of roller derby and want to be involved. We do a variety of jobs during a bout, including penalty tracking, inside/outside whiteboard, scorekeeper, lineup tracker, penalty box timing, Jam timer, and collecting/submitting bout stats as Head NSO.

 It may not sound as glorious as being a skater, but it’s also a lot less work. It can also make for an awkward vibe when players with your league try to talk to you in the penalty box and you have to ignore them. Or maintaining neutrality by not cheering for your friends or gasping at a hard hit. Oh, also there is 100% less dancing...

But for a Bout to be a Bout, we NEED NSOs. Imagine the chaos were there no one to keep score and determine the victor? Or make sure that players serve their penalties for unsafe play? Or keep time to determine the end of a jam? Collectively, NSOs make roller derby happen!

Luckily for me, if there ever was a perfect league to learn NSOing positions, FoCo Girls Gone Derby is the place. FCGGD boasts four dedicated WFTDA Level 2 Certified NSOs: Bladeybug, JewJew Bee, Shake n Break &Whistle Blower (also a skating official.) All of which are happy to teach, share WFTDA knowledge and advice.

The more time I spent learning various NSO positions, saturating myself in numbers and statistics, the shape of my derby dreams shifted. The aspiration to join the Micro Bruisers travel A team was replaced with the desire to travel MORE by officiating tournaments, and someday gain the knowledge and experience to officiate a championship tournament. I’m already looking forward to NSOing at Slaughterhouse Derby GirlsMayday Mayhem tournament, and hope to go to Casper, Wyoming for the Wyoming Roller Derby Cup. These opportunities allow NSOs to develop their skills and meet officials and skater from all over the country.

Mind you, not every NSO gets certified or seeks to travel, just as bout after parties aren’t for everyone in the league. Many NSOs love the league and devote what time they can to volunteer wherever they're needed. It’s an easy sport and community to love. Everyone’s experience with roller derby is different and there’s a spot for all.

This month I’ll be celebrating my one year derby anniversary. Looking back, it wasn’t the year I thought I’d have, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. I look forward to what the future holds, and should my knee hold up I plan to get back on skates for Team Zebra as a skating official. Yay, roller derby!

Derby Love,
Danger A-Gogo

P.S. Hello reader, thanks for stickin’ with me so far. Perhaps you’re interested in officiating yourself, either an NSO or skating referee? Well we’d LOVE to have you! Email us at referee@focogirlsgonederby.com

March 6, 2014

The Showdown

The first week in March is designated each year for the Wild West Showdown, a round-robin style tournament that features a ton of hungry leagues looking to rise in rankings, and "showdown" is the perfect word to describe it.  We all show up, angry that the TSA confiscated our skate tools, wet (because in Bremerton, WA apparently 'sun' is an abstract concept), and freaking out because someone forgot something essential like a WFTDA patch or their uniform.  Somehow, someway, we all manage to make it to a very large steel building that smells like hot dogs and derby pads and we get ready to bout like we've never bouted before.

Now the WWS has always been bittersweet for Foco; it giveth and it taketh away.  We always manage to win a sweet one, lose one that we totally should have won, and lose one by not as much as we were predicted to lose by which good for rankings but feels just yucky.  We started out our three-bout in three days schedule by watching Coach's favorite movie of all time that he quotes on the daily, Remember The Titans (and then we were super grateful that coach doesn't make us do up-downs in 90 degree weather).  Our first bout was against the Slaughterhouse Derby Girls, our local rival that we have a standing competitive score with.  Don't ask me why we traveled 700 miles to play a team that lives 40 minutes away, but the Wild West Showdown gods had decided that this was where we would make our stand against Slaughterhouse.  It was neck and neck for a while, until a few power jams got the best of us, and by halftime we were 75 (Foco) and 109 (SDG).  We weren't far behind, but we knew we had to take back the bout.  This was our win and we knew it.  We had been busting our little behinds for months; doing cross-training, running new strategy, and practicing worst-case scenarios so we could take home that sweet NoCo Trophy.  With hard work and some great strategy implementation we took that bout with 205 points with SDG at 161.  It felt awesome.  Both teams played with amazing talent, and heart, and SDG remains one of our most favorite teams to play. And because we won, coach had to wear Hammer Pants!

Our second bout was against Sicktown, a tough team that Flat Track Stats gave us an 11% chance of winning.  We knew we would have to fight hard, but we trusted in ourselves and in our teammates.  At half-time we were far behind.  They're pack was very good at recycling to keep our jammers at bay, and they did a very good job at thwarting our offense.  The referees were trying their best, bur unfortunately their calls made no sense, and it's really hard to fix penalties when you don't understand why you're getting them.  Coach brought us to a corner and gave us a pep-talk!  We talked about what we needed to change and how we needed to play in order to win.  In the second half, we really played some great derby.  Our packs were tight, our hits were well-timed and hard, and we were putting points up on the board.  We lost the bout, but only by 18 points.  It was a devastating loss because we felt like we should have won, and that we lost the the referees.  Sicktown was definitely a formidable opponent and hopefully we can get a rematch in the future.

Our last bout was with Port Scandalous, which we had a 1% chance of winning against.  Spoiler alert!  We didn't win.  As a team, we felt like we played incredibly for the first 45 minutes of the bout, but we felt like we fell apart in the last 15 minutes.  At our team meeting afterwards the conversation turned from the bout we had just played to how we've grown as a team.  Last year we felt like a team of individuals and this year we feel more like an actual team that supports and encourages each other.  This meeting, after the loss, was actually my favorite part of the whole trip.  We realized how much we all appreciate each other.  We admitted secrets, insecurities, and had some great laughs.  Altogether, I would say that Wild West was a success, with the exception that half of us got the derby flu on the way home and now we're all sick in bed.  Alas, the things we suffer through for this sport.

Cheers,

The Original Skankster

February 27, 2014

Right-Sizing your Derby Involvement

This week The Original Skankster and I sharing this little blog-o-sphere with a side-by-side piece about how we make derby fit our lives. I firmly believe that derby can be the right fit for everyone, and there are degrees to which you can be involved. From the intensity and glory of the Micro Bruisers to the recreational type fun on the Punchy Brewsters, you have to find what works for you. Deciding what your derby goals are, and being flexible with them is a really important step in figuring out your role in the league. Skank is speaking from the role of a Micro Bruiser. She has been on the traveling A team for as long as I have been in the league, so she knows a thing or two about about a thing or two, knowwhaddimsayin? I will be speaking from my own experience as a Punchy Brewster, member of the traveling B team. Our goal here is to help people who are coming up or  currently evaluating their own role to find the right fit for them and being satisfied with your decision.

Here is the lovely and indomitable, Original Skankster’s take on rollin' with the A Team:

More opportunity – playing on the travel team means that you naturally get more opportunities to play derby.  By being on the WFTDA sanctioned team, tournaments, scrimmages, and bouts are more likely to open up to you.  Other teams are also more willing to travel to you in order to bout.  By having more opportunities with ladies that you don’t skate with day in and day out, you have the chance to become a much more experienced, more adaptive player which improves your game in the long run.  You get more playing time, more experience with other leagues, and the chance to meet new people.  Networking is huge in derby, not only for making friends but for solving league problems as well.  Have you ever run into another skater and asked their advice about an issue you were having?  I have!  And I've gotten some great guidance when struggling with a derby, or life issue.  When you're able to sew new seeds of friendship, you or your league is more likely to be invited to a tournament or bout opportunity.  And it goes without saying, other leagues throw some great parties!

If it isn't hurting, it's ain't helping.  The truth is, if you're not being challenged at derby, you won't get better, and playing against the tough skaters who are all vying for that same spot on the team won't leave you coasting.  It's harder to plateau if you're learning from and being exposed to the players who know what they're doing.  Also by traveling, you're exposed to different skating styles and different strategy.  By observing and playing against these teams you're able to come up with great ideas in order to counteract these strategies.  Being on the travel team is a constant challenge and I love being able to see myself improve.  It's hard work, but it's why I love it!

And what about hanging with my derby ladies?!  Road trips and traveling to bouts has always been a major highlight about derby.  Our B team definitely gets to travel, but there is more weight for travel with our A team because of WFTDA requirements and opportunities for WFTDA play.  With a weekend away from life, we get to pump some tunes, drop our guards, and have some fun!  I've made some of my most precious memories on derby trips- singing along to The Little Mermaid with Miz, rapping with Sug and Poppin', petting puppies with Ktal and Spice, and dancing in the street with my entire team.  When I went to RollerCon, I was by myself, and I was pretty much adopted by derby friends I had made while skating with my travel team.  It really was like a big derby family, and being a part of something where people are warm and accepting was incredible.  Skating on the travel team definitely opens more doors for you, not only to network with other leagues but to strengthen the friendships you have with yours!

I love being on the travel team, but it's a lot of time, and more importantly, it's a lot of work.  When you’re a member of the top team, coasting isn't something we can afford.  As a member of the travel team I need to be an example of dedication, good work ethic, positivity, and camaraderie.  At times it can be very stressful.  It's also hard work to watch what I eat, lift weights and go running outside of practice, implement new strategy, and go 100% at practice at every practice.  Am I a perfect league member?  No.  Sometimes I take a day off, but nothing that came easy has ever really been worth it to me.  I want the challenge.  I want to see myself improve.  I want to look in the mirror and know that with every move I make I'm becoming more like Wonder Woman.  So, if that's what you want from roller derby, the travel team is for you!!

I, Mollytov Maguire, prefer a different role in the league with the traveling B team. Here are my thoughts on that:

The traveling B team may not take us as far and wide as the A team, but I still get to travel. Going to neighboring states to play in bouts with other skaters does give me the opportunity to meet new people, but there isn't the same amount of pressure on my to worry about our ranking. Being on an unranked team gives me more flexibility to be experimental, to really play. What I mean is that Punchies are purely for fun and that is the experience I am interested in. I am in the very serious derby business of having fun on the flat track.Yes, I work hard to be OK at derby, but I am there to hang out with my girlfriends, get some exercise, and not have to be at work. I firmly believe both teams are fun, both are creative, adaptable, and exciting, but I don't want to lay awake at night thinking about how I *might have* single-handedly lost the bout for everyone on the track (because if you don't know me by now, that's TOTALLY what I'd do). No pressure, less time, so fun.

If it isn’t hurting, uh.. well, that’s good for me. I don’t like being sore everyday but it’s OK some days. I hate it when I am so sore from practice the night before that I regret getting a car with a manual transmission. I like working out knowing that I am building a healthier me. I do not work out so that I don’t let down my team, however. Sorry ladies, I can’t take on that kind of responsibility. My satisfaction lies in knowing that I gave 100% of what I had to give, and that’s enough for me. Maybe my 100% looks a little different than someone else’s, and that is what derby is about; being able to “right-size” that stuff.

I guess the main thing I love about being a Punchy is that I do get to coast. I feel like it’s the right derby/life balance to suit my goals. Sometimes I am more intense than others. Sometimes I am stoked to be there and sometimes I come just because of the attendance policy. I don’t want to be the next Bonnie Thunders. I mean, it would be TOTALLY FREAKING AWESOME, but that is not something I want to work that hard for. Seriously. I love derby, and I love the community, but I also love the life that I spent 30 years building before derby came into it and stole my heart. Like with any relationship I’ve ever been in, I’ve always told my significant other that I want to want them, but I will never be the girl that needs them. When I need derby or I feel like derby needs more of me than I want to give, it’s time to re-evaluate things.

Really, I think Skank and I are getting at the same thing; we both love derby and we both love our roles. We’ve each sat down and thought about what derby brings to our lives, how much time we’re able to put into our derby goals, and came up with the solution that fits our lifestyles the best. Also, I love that there is room in my league for someone like me and my slacker ass "17 pieces of flair" attitude, and someone like Skank who asks us all to be more and leads by fearless example with a spirit that is nothing short of admirable.

Derby Love,

The Original Skankster and Mollytov Maguire

February 20, 2014

Offical Review: Being Gay in Sports

The views expressed in this blog entry are the opinion and do not necessarily reflect or endorse the views of Foco Girls Gone Derby, the Women's Flat Track Derby Association or any other sports entity.


If you've If you've picked up a copy of the sports section lately, you might have accidentally confused it for the lifestyles or opinions section based on the large number of articles about "gays in sports."  Just a few articles I have read in the last week include: Being Gay at the Sochi Olympics, Michael Sam Comes Out As Gay: Missouri Football Star Could be 1st Openly Gay Player, America is Ready For Openly Gay Athletes, Poll Shows and my personal favorite: How to Behave Around Your Gay Teammate in the Locker Room.

Before I delve into this topic (see disclaimer above), I should be transparent about why I am writing this piece. I am a gay man who officiates in the sport of women's roller derby.  Does my role as an official make me an expert on LGBTQIA individuals involved in sports? Certainly not.  But as a gay man who is also a sports aficionado it feels completely appropriate to write about the recent buzz in both the LBGTQIA and sports communities.

As a young kid, I grew up with team sports.  I can remember at an early age being involved with the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO).  My mom would cart my brother and me, once a week to practice and to games on the weekends.  This was my first real exposure to team sports and although I can't tell you our win/loss record for each season I participated in with AYSO, I do acknowledge that the experience allowed me to feel like a member of a team and also afforded me the opportunity to eat a lot of delicious orange slices after each game!

My second foray into organized sports was recreational volleyball, which, at the time, was largely considered "feminine" and I was one of the two boys on the team.   While I loved being on the team and played for three seasons, it was the first time I wondered if my teammates, coach, or spectators speculated about my sexuality.  You see, I knew I was gay very early in life and although I didn't come out until I was fourteen, this was my first intersection with sports and my sexuality.  It was the first time I wondered if being gay meant I couldn't play sports or be on a team.

It wasn't until I went to high school, where all students were mandated to play team sports in lieu of physical education classes, when I actually panicked about being gay and on a sports team.  By that time in my life, I had come out to myself and my family, but wasn't out to my friends or classmates.  Having attended a boarding school where you live, eat, and sleep with your classmates, it's not an easy secret to keep and my "sparkling" personality didn't really help either.

My first season of high school sports, I was invited to play on the varsity soccer team.  Apparently my youth soccer experiences paid off in the skill department.  Our first several games of the season were home games, which meant I didn't have to travel to other schools, but more importantly, it meant I could go back to my dorm room after the game and shower in the privacy of my own room.  However, it was my first away game that I dreaded, for fear of having to shower with my other teammates before we boarded the bus back home.

Let me shed a little light here for a second; when I was in high school, I was more terrified of showering with my straight teammates than they likely ever were of showering with the presumed gay guy on the team (see sparkling personality reference above).  I had a lot of the same body image issues that lots of young people face when you're going through puberty.  The only times that I ever looked at someone in the locker room was more for comparisons' sake of  "Oh wow, my body doesn't look like that, " or "Am I supposed to have hair there?!?"  My cursory glances, and those glances of my teammates alike, at other's bodies were more about the growing body image issue that we have in America, which is a different topic for a different day.  I survived through two years of high school varsity sports (soccer, swimming and tennis) with my head down and always being the first in and out of the rampant heterosexual environment known as "the locker room."  I provide this backdrop as context of what it was like in the early 90's to be a young gay athlete.

When I joined Foco Girls Gone Derby in 2012, I was never required, nor did I feel compelled to disclose my sexual orientation.  I joined with the hope of becoming part of a team again and to engage in a sport that I felt passionate about.  What I appreciate most about the sport of derby is that it has a relatively open door policy and that you have the right to be who you are without judgement or retaliation.  While I cannot speak for all leagues involved in either WFTDA or its male counterpart, Men's Roller Derby Association (MRDA), thus far I have always been treated with respect and welcomed with open arms by players, coaches and fellow officials.

It is encouraging that the revelation of gay athletes is as celebrated as it is, but also disconcerting that in 2014 an athlete's coming out story is still national news.  While I'm excited that Michael Sam is now "out" and has prospects to be the first openly gay NFL player, and the international response to Russia's anti-gay propaganda laws, especially in light of the International Olympic Committees objections, at the end of the day, fans and athletes alike still care about one thing: sports.

For my fellow athletes: treat your LGBTQIA teammates the way you would treat any of your straight teammates.  Joke with them, interact with them both on and off the track, court, field, etc., help fight the heterocentric nature of the locker room, and while you're at it, challenge body image issues raised in the locker room, and most of all, don't make judgments of an athlete's ability simply because of their sexual orientation.

For fans who love sports, neither I, nor most athletes, need a standing ovation for being gay athletes.  Simply acknowledge gay team members as an athlete who's out there doing what they love while providing you entertainment and enjoyment.  Support athletes when they make great plays and prevent yourself from using hateful words like gay, queer, or fag for players who make bad plays or are on teams you cheer against.

Michael Sam's coming out may open the door to a new audience for the NFL, but it likely won't have any huge ramifications on existing fan bases.  I, like many others, will not cheer any less for the Denver Broncos, despite their blundering performance in Super Bowl XLVIII, in place of a team that drafts the first openly gay player.  I also don't expect a mass defection of fans from a team that chooses to draft Sam.  There have always been and will always be LGBTQIA athletes but it is first and foremost the responsibility as athletes, officials, and fans alike to display the highest levels of dignity, respect and sportsmanship to all, both on and off the field.

Whistle Blower

February 13, 2014

Handing Over the Reigns


I've been in management positions for most of my adult life; I've managed multiple restaurants and even have a degree in management.  After a few months of playing roller derby, I knew that I wouldn't be content not having some say in the organization of the league.  So, as a doe-eyed newbie I ran for captainship of one of the home teams, The Deathrow Dolls.  I captained the Dolls for almost a whole season before I decided to run for the Co-Captin of the competitive travel team, The MicroBruisers.  I captained the Bruisers for almost two seasons before finally deciding to step down at the end of last season and oh boy!  Has it been a ride!

When I thought that managing a team of roller derby ladies would be no different than my previous management experience, I couldn't have been more wrong.  This is no restaurant, we don't get paid and managing those ladies will be a challenge I will never forget.  Being a competitive team captain means a lot of things; choosing rosters (possibly leaving out skaters you consider good friends), writing lines, leading practices, championing the team in athletics committee meetings, keeping morale high and even disciplining unsavory actions (dun, dun, dunnnnnnn).  My co-captain, Slim Skatey (and later Miz. Eerie Bizness) and I have a special obstacle to overcome as well- it was just us.  No coaches, nothing.  The coaching staff was just two ladies that had to figure out how to be "The Boss" while still skating as a teammate.

I know I'm probably making captaining seem like the WORST.  IDEA.  EVER.  But, alongside the issues and stress, I had a lot of great times that far outweigh the hard parts.  I got to wear my captain "C" ) "A" in the beginning) with pride, because I knew that this was a team that I helped create.  I got the pleasure of being told, "Great practice, Sug!" after practices I have developed and put together (a very daunting task, btw).  I got to introduce new strategies and watch them succeed (or fail, but let's not talk about that).  When morale was high, I could turn up my chin and know that I had had a part in it.  I got to take my team to two tournaments!  And, finally, when we won...WE WON!

Now that I'm no longer a captain of any team, I find myself trying not to become the dreaded "backseat captain."  But, it's hard not to have a say in the team that, for two years, I worked so hard to build up.  Luckily, I couldn't have asked for a better coaching staff to hand the reigns over to; Coach Paul, Assistant Coach Hayl, and our two wonderful captain The Original Skankster and Princess of Wails are AMAZEBALLS and I am so excited to see what they will do with this team.  Their motto for this season is "Athleticism, Discipline, and Teamwork," wowza!

So, to my successors: Have fun wrangling us through the bountiful derby merch at Wild West to get to our bouts (FYI, it will be like herding cats in a room full of catnip).  Don't wallow in your defeats.  Enjoy your victories.  And, finally, soak in as much as possible, because one day you'll be like good ol' Suga Smaxx having to pass off the torch. 
Now, let me get back to my stress-free derby life...NOT!
Much love, 

Suga Smaxxx

February 7, 2014

Roller Derby is (also) for Introverts!

I love people. I love watching them. I love listening to them (when they know I am listening and when they don't). I don't really love interacting with them though. As much I love being a part of social situations, I don't really want to be social in them. I am like a cat in that way. I want to be in the same room as something social, but it's sometimes really hard for me to be social, even with my close friends. I kinda just want to be in the same room and not have to talk. Sometimes. Not all the time. Sometimes, when I get enough booze and fried food in me, and I won't shut up.

Roller derby is perfect for me because we have a thing that we're doing. I don't have to ask people gently probing questions about their lives, their personal history, their families, their health, their happiness because we're doing something. We're derby-ing. I can tell them "Jammer standing!" and "watch the inside!" without hesitation but when you ask me about my day, I am flummoxed. I like to go to a place where I get to be with my friends, but I don't have to talk about my feelings in front of everyone. I make left turns, I skate it out, and I feel like I have done something. I saw some people today and it mattered that their faces were in front of mine. Roller derby is a fun, safe, place full of people I like and trust, who don't need to make me be things I am not. They only ask that I push myself harder, whatever that looks like for me.

I think introverts make awesome teammates because we are:
  • Very self-aware
  • Thoughtful
  • Enjoys understanding details
  • Interested in self-knowledge and self-understanding
  • Tends to keep emotions private
  • Quiet and reserved in large groups or around unfamiliar people
  • More sociable and gregarious around people they know well
  • Learns well through observation*
Don't get me wrong, I love my extroverted friends, colleagues, and teammates, but an introvert will wait and watch before they give feedback. We're thinking about what we're going to say before we say it. We do this on the track, in committee and board meetings, and in our relationships. We try and really understand a situation. 

I think the hardest thing for me is all the social opportunities surrounding derby. The after parties, the pre-game talks, the time when you're gearing up and down. Those things are like the first day of school for me STILL and I have been with my league for more than 2 years! There are new people, there are cliques, there are the "popular girls" and despite my best efforts, I know that I am not every one's cup of tea. And that's OK, it's just stressful sometimes. I get in my car and panic a little about who I am going to do endurance practice next to. Are they going to judge my squat-jumps and burpees? When I gear up, can they smell my wristgaurd stank like I can? OH GOD. Hopefully I am with someone in my inner circle, then I give no f**ks about those things.

Moral of the story, everyone has their hurdles, but being an introvert shouldn't stop you from PLAYING ALL THE DERBIES! because there are a lot of benefits of being an introverted type of person, on and off the track!

Derby Love,

Mollytov Maguire
 
*What is Introversion? By Kendra Cherry

January 30, 2014

What's Your Roller Derby Spirit Animal?

Ever wonder what kind of skater you are?  Do you ever feel inadequate with the skill-set you have? Wishing that you could just skate like that one girl on the team you envy? Wait, really?  WHY?! Roller derby is about a place for everyone; every body type and every skill-set. Every skater is unique and guess what? We need all of them. You might go around thinking that you're not as valuable as the other players on your team, and you would be very, very, wrong. One day you'll go up against this bad ass team of chicks and there will be one girl that no one can stop but you. You'll just get the way she skates when no one else does. So buck up little camper!  Roller derby is not a sport about feeling sorry for yourself, it's about taking control. Now I'm sure I didn't capture all the roller derby spirit animals but I assume they're a lot like Pokemon and you can just add more when you come across one.  Read on!

The Honey Badger

Cuz you don't give a shiiiiz.  Honey badger don't care.  She don't care one bit.  The honey badger is the lady who hits hard, hits fast, and manages the pack with her feisty skating.  She tornadoes around, faster and with more direction than you thought a skater could, and is the skater that makes every jammer sweat when she's on the other team.  Is she always with her wall?  Not necessarily. This one likes to go rogue and fly solo while she plays offense for her jammer and picks off the opposing players one at a time, leaving more than a few bruises in her wake.  She's mean, she's scary, and every hit feels more and more like defeat.


The Bull

This skater is the most fearless skater on the track because she knows the WFTDA rules like the back of her hand, or should I say, hoof?  So when something doesn't sit right with her she digs her heels in, takes a deep breath, and charges ahead at full speed.  Calling time-outs to challenge a call is her specialty and instead of playing reckless, she plays smart. Opposing players fear her, because they know when she challenges she has a good reason.  Her teammates go to her for advice, council, and questions, wanting to know as much about derby as she does.  If you're a bull, stay that way.  If you're not, pick up a rule book and get studying!

The Wolf

Do you ever find yourself herding all of the other skaters so that they're where they need to be?  You're always nipping at their heels by yelling, pointing, and physically moving them with your body?  You're the wolf; mother of the pack.  You know that keeping your pack together will mean life or death for the jam and you're not taking any chances.  Newer skaters look to you to tell them what to do, where to go, and how to improve.  Off the track, you're more of a mother, giving advice to inexperienced skaters and explaining that last jam to anyone with a 'deer in the headlights' look.  On the track, you're a wolf, keeping everybody in line and forcing them to improve their game.

The Emperor Penguin

A very interesting fact about the Emperor Penguin is that mates for life. It finds its "soul mate," looks all over the beach for the perfect pebble, and then presents it to its true love and they are together forever.  Awww... If you are an Emperor Penguin on the track, it simply means that you skate better with a partner in crime. You tend to use the people around to you to land your hits, booty block, and force the track cut on that pesky little jammer when your partner drags her. This girls is your derby soul mate and you know each other like the back of your skate.  There are also penguin skaters that work well with any partner, but the principle is the same, they know that 2 pairs of skates are better than 1.

The Springbok

This little skater is a jumpy, hoppy, all over the place jammer.  You get low as you approach the pack and then spring into action, flying past everyone in front of you.  If you manage to get caught, it won't be for long. You're great a juking, stepping, toe-stop work, and you leave people behind in a flash!  You know one of the most important lessons in derby, levels matter.  You've also taken a few lessons from Patches O'Hoola Han and have learned how to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge!


The Ram

You're a great jammer, but you're not a springbok.  Instead of hopping around and trying to dodge your opponents, you power through with incredible force.  Because you're solid on your skates and know people can't hit you out easily, you bide your time and just muscle your way through.  Hearing a "No Pack!" is your favorite sound, because you've managed to power push the wall to the brink.  As much as the pack tries to slow down with you forcing them forward, they simply can't.  No amount of snow plows or hockey stops can stop you from getting through, and the team depends on you to go up against those tough blockers that dominate the track.

Didn't find your spirit animal?  Not to worry, there are dozens of them, all equally important for a team to be successful.  Whatever your spirit animal is, just own it.  You don't have to skate like your derby crush, or Suzy Hotrod, Bonnie Thunders, or Jackie Daniels.  We all now that it's not about what you got, but what you make of what you got.  No one's born a great derby player, so stop comparing yourself to others, and just become the absolute best of what you are!

Cheers,

The Original Skankster

January 23, 2014

Battle-ing Jamming

If you've ever read a roller derby blog then, inevitably, you've read about the dreaded jammer panty. Also known as the plague panty. If you're unfamiliar, the jammer panty is the helmet cover that the jammer (point-scorer) wears on the track.  Think of it as a giant target plastered to your head.

The reason behind its dread? Jamming can suck. A whole lot. Even people who are really good at jamming have the fear of the jammer panty. It means up to two full minutes of being caught in the other team's sights and having the snot hip-checked out of you. It means endurance, speed, and agility. Things that don't always come naturally to - ahem - some of us.

I'm just starting my 8th (what? really? holy crap!) season of playing roller derby. I only started volunteering to jam LAST season. No one dreaded the panty more than me. When someone would ask, "Who wants to jam?" I would quickly put the pivot panty on, or sprint to the track to avoid it. I wasn't small, agile, or fast like a jammer should be. In fact, I didn't want to be.

I played derby for many seasons, content to be a blocker. I'm a bigger girl, was even bigger when I started. I could take a hit, and I could lay people flat if I was able to get the timing right. I didn't cross train, I wasn't athletic. I couldn't run, I fought constantly with my asthma. What I got out of derby was enough for me back then- a little bit of effort and the fun of skating.

Something changed a few seasons back. I decided I wanted to be healthier, and derby is a great way to achieve that. I put more into my practices, started hitting the gym. I lost some weight, and in the 2011 season, I finally earned my first MVP award in a bout. That still wasn't enough suddenly. I KNEW that I could do more- that the only thing limiting me was, in fact, me. I started the Couch to 5K program in the beginning of the 2012 season. I kept going to the gym. I kept getting in better shape. I made the active roster for the travel team. It was one of my proudest moments.

I was still afraid to jam.

My asthma was part of it; it still is. Running has helped me get a better handle of endurance, but there are times I still need my inhaler, and jamming definitely stresses the body. But I was getting sleeker, faster, and more agile. And so, halfway thought last season, I decided I would MAKE myself jam. Every scrimmage. At least once per half. It wasn't easy, but it got easier. I got lead jammer! Hey, this time I actually scored points! It wasn't scary anymore. I decided to jam in a home bout and I got lead AND scored points! Sure, next time I jammed I got shut down and the opposing team mopped the floor with me. But you know what? I went out again.

I even gave it a shot in a competitive travel bout. That...still needs some work, but it's good to have goals, right?

Derby practices used to have an underlying note of anxiety for me. When was I going to have to jam in a drill? Would they make me jam in scrimmage, even? I don't feel that anymore. I can even say I'm EXCITED to jam. I volunteer to do it, I like the feeling of getting through that pack, scoring those points, and being able to call it off.

Hey, it only took 8 seasons, right?

January 16, 2014

Mollytov 2.0

My Derby Resolutions:

1. Eat like a champ. But seriously, like a champ because I AM a champ. Or will be this season. I don't want to say that I eat like crap, but I also don't eat all the things I should. I don't drink enough water either and I will do this too. I am doing this right now in fact. I need to have more leafy greens, more vibrant reds, and less Yellow #5. This one is going to be HARD.

2. Jam. I am really gonna do that this year. I am not going to say "No" to the panty if I can breathe and stand.  In scrimmage. I can't say that I will commit to bouts. That sounds traumatic. I can say that this is MY YEAR to be awesome at derby. I know that more jamming will make me a better blocker and I will see the game that much better. I think it will (in the long run) make derby more fun for me. The dread that I feel about being asked to jam and knowing that I am going to  turn it down will be a thing of the past! Instead, a fresh new kind of hell will take it's place. That hell is jamming. Some things are worth the struggle. Hopefully, it won't always be my own personal derby hell.

3. Go to the gym. I will commit to going to the gym. I am going to include more yoga in this because when you do high impact all the time, it's hard. I need me some quiet, stretchy-breathing time. Time that I don't think about lists and committee work, and doing the dishes because that is a problem for me. But really, if I am going to be honest with myself, I need to work on having faster feet, not breathing. OK, both at the same time and I am going to do that on a treadmill and with some free weights. Peer pressure might also work, keep me honest people.

4. I will strive for better work vs. life vs. derby balance. I need to leave certain things on the track and keep my drama to myself. No excuses. No punishments. Just better compartmentalization. I will also not obsessive watch my blog stats, Facebook stats, website stats, or any others that aren't relevant at that time. No screens allowed on date night. That is going to be a hard habit to break, but a very worthy one.

5. My final resolution is to be as nice to myself as I am my friends. If they screw something up, I don't punish them. I talk them down from the ledge. I give them room to learn from their mistakes and I don't sit in the bottom of the shower crying about them at one in the morning. This is something I am going to give myself this year.

Welcome to 2014 everyone.

Derby love,

Mollytov Maguire

January 9, 2014

Last Year's Bucket List and MORE...

Alright ladies, exactly one year ago I wrote a New Year's Resolution blog post about what my plans were for the year to make my roller derby experience as awesome as possible.  Now I'm here a year later, shame-stick in hand, looking back to see whether I accomplished the goals I set for myself.  Did I make it? Did I become the most wonderful, productive derby girl of all time?  Read on and find out!

1.Learn the Rules.
Hmmmm. Rules rules rules.  My most favorite thing about roller derby...NOT.  I know, I know, the WFTDA rule book is not as exciting to read as Fifty Shades of Grey, but it's well worth the effort. It's also a bit tricky, because a new rule-set comes out every year, but I have to say that I dusted off the ol' rule book this year and hit the books hard. I gotta tell you, I learned a lot!  In fact, it saved me a few trips to the penalty box, so if you're looking to reduce your time off the track, the rule book is the place to start.

2.Make it to RollerCon.
Mission accomplished!  In fact, I was the only girl from our league there.  It made me a little sad, because I didn't know a whole lot of people, but I have no regrets about going.  RollerCon is definitely the place to go if you need a new spring in your step- er- I mean skate.  With a ton of classes taught by the best roller derby players in the world, they're tailor-made for each skill you're trying to pull off next.  With scrimmages, merch, bouts, and parties, RollerCon is the Mecca for any roller girl.  While I was there, the Ark Valley Rollergirls, a league not far from my town took me under their wing and pretty much adopted me for the week.  It was so amazing to hang out with these ladies; they were kind, fun, and I had a blast with them.  With all of the relationships I cultivated, things I learned, and experiences I had, I'll definitely be making the trip again this year!

3.Win One MVP Trophy at a WFTDA sanctioned bout.
Promises, promises.  Unfortunately I only managed to accomplish this one 50% of the way through.  I won an MVP trophy for a home bout (which I kicked BUTT in BTW) but my goal was to win one during a travel team bout.  I wanted the ladies of the other team, who had never seen us in action, to see me as a valuable asset to my team. Call this a selfish goal if you will, I understand, but can you blame me for wanting to ROCK THE BOUT??!  So this goal will be rolling over to this year, and somehow, someway, I will accomplish it!  That being said, doing what's best for the team is more important than making yourself look good, so be a team player and rock the bout!

4.Jump the Apex.
I totally jumped the apex, once. ONCE.  But I did it! So it's practice, practice, practice until I do it again. And again. One day it will be rainbows and cupcakes over that apex jump, so I'll just keep on truckin' until it happens.

5.Be Awesome.
Hmmm...can I truly answer this one objectively? Last year I vowed to stop complaining, work out, eat right, and leave it all on the track.  Did I do that? Did I accomplish my goal of being awesome?  Heck yes I did!  I focused a lot on my nutrition this year and making sure I worked out a few days every single week other than derby.  I also stopped playing it safe and tried hard to push myself during practice.  This is probably the most important thing you can do to better yourself. Set goals, set timelines, and then push push push!

So in the spirit of the new year, follow my lead (which is excellent) and set your own Roller Derby New Year's Resolutions!

Cheers to a great new year,

The Original Skankster