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.
The Original Skankster and Mollytov Maguire