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!


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