March 17 2013
The world of Roller Derby is the most appropriate world I could wish to be part of during my lifetime because it fits me like a glove; being human and striving to be a warrior. (FYI, it was never my goal to be a warrior but life had other plans). What I know for sure is that If I want to be a warrior I can’t be satisfied with what I’ve done nor what my plans are. My only options for being a warrior is to face the daily challenge of staying in the moment at all times; and to learn what I can do better, more efficiently and to gain awareness of what I can control and what I cannot.
Last night we had a derby game (or “bout” as some in WFTDA may say) in Kennewick playing against the Atomic City Roller Girls. Being there and roller derby in general is a good example of being human and also of being warriors.
We’re a mishmash of individual experiences, tied together by our common interest and / or proximity and the cumulative energy is perceived differently from person to person. My personal experience overall of visiting the super lovely Durga and the ACRG skaters was amazing and positive. The respect and thoughtfulness given to us (and me) by these skaters blew my mind, really. They gave me an MVP award which was emotionally overwhelming to me and even though I’m dubious about it being due to my skating skills, I accept it with gratitude, humbleness and thanks; it meant very much to me to have that acknowledgment.
I believe that 98-99.5% of my skaters came away with a positive experience overall as well. One or two of their skaters had a few questionable hits (as ALL of us do on occasion, most often unintentionally) and one or two of my skaters came away with hurt feelings ( another topic altogether…..OY!), quite possibly in this very same post……we’ll see!).
To me, participation in roller derby is a complete honor and gift; and for whatever the reason is, it is my purpose; my life’s calling.. all of that. It is my purpose MORE than me having a house, being a realtor or “fitting in” to society. It is the vehicle for empowerment that I can sink my teeth into and GIVE to people. as well as use in my own life for strength-gaining purposes.
I can think to myself that I’m giving the gift of derby “because I’ve invested three years and funds that could have possibly been a “safety net” for my future”. As much as I like to believe I’m giving a gift, my certitude of intention doesn’t alter the fact that it may not be perceived by my skaters or anyone really, as a gift from me. My experience is mine and no one can assume to know anyone else’s perception or intent. All of us need each other in order to make anything work.
Here is an example of perception;
When I make shirts for my skaters I screen print them and try to make them as nice as possible.
I bought equipment on craigslist in order to be able to screen print / heat press and provide what is needed in case of quick growth, last minute uniforms or merch. I taught myself how to use the vinyl cutter, apply the ink onto the fabric, etc, and it keeps getting easier along the way. At any rate, when I’m making uniforms, I think of each skater as I press their names and numbers on the back of their shirts and I imagine them wearing them and imagine their awesomeness. Sometimes I have to make special trips to the store for one skater if I mess up or don’t have the right size. Often, timing is such that I’m doing them last minute while juggling to pay facilities / transfer funds / picking up my kid/ realizing there are no groceries at home / with awareness of knowing that I need to send documents to escrow before days end which hovers like a rain cloud. Crazy? yeah, probably, but nonetheless, I enjoy doing all of it. In fact screen printing is one of my happy “zen” places to work; I love the creativity of that part of what I do. When a person is self-funded they will go to great lengths to keep it all together in order to get the job done. Often it isn’t possible to afford to have employees and it can backfire to assume that volunteers will be available the evening or hours before a game, or at the moment you need them.
So back to perception, when a skater is disappointed by the uniform or complains because there might be a spot of ink somewhere, I’m happy to replace the shirt, but how can I say to them that I just spent four full days to give them a gift from my heart? Of COURSE there is no “cool” way of saying that, I’m running a business in the eyes of the world. How could anyone possibly know how much I love or appreciate them if I don’t have or take the time to keep saying it? I’d like to figure out how to do that better but as of now I haven’t quite figured that one out.
I’ve repeated many times to my skaters that if they want to be on a travel team they will have to compete with one another to make the roster, that they will sometimes get bad calls, illegal hits that aren’t seen, encounter skaters playing dirty, credit card swiping your ASS, or hitting your head, but it really doesn’t prepare them for when it actually happens. Of course it doesn’t, only first hand experience can prepare anyone for anything.
Could it occur to my frustrated skaters that the whole opposing team might be mad at one of their own for playing dirty? Is it possible for people to pull themselves out of their own momentary experience to see a bigger picture?
My beginning mental skills checklist looks like this:
• ATTEMPT TO FOCUS ON SELF AND OTHERS
• IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS
• RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR
• SELF TRUST
• ABILITY TO MAKE NECESSARY ADJUSTMENTS
• WILLINGNESS TO KEEP AN OPEN MIND / SELF FORGIVENESS
• POSITIVE APPROACH TO TASK AND CIRCUMSTANCE
• AWARENESS OF COPING WITH ADVERSITY
• GAIN AWARENESS OF TEAM
• PROMISE TO TRY TO DO YOUR BEST EACH TIME
Intermediate adds this:
• CONSISTANCY OF FOCUS
• RESPONSIBILITY TO DO WHAT THE SITUATION REQUIRES
• ABILITY TO COPE EFFECTIVELY WITH ADVERSITY
• GAIN AWARENESS OF OPPONENTS PRESENCE OR POSTURING
• ABILITY TO DO YOUR BEST EACH TIME
Advanced adds this:
• IDENTIFY YOUR STRENGTHS, IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS
• SELF-SACRIFICE, A COMMITMENT TO THE TEAM’S AGENDA
• ABILITY TO COMPETE WITH PAIN – REGARDING ENDURANCE, NOT INJURY
TRAVEL TEAM ADDS THIS
• CONFRONTATIONAL ATTITUDE AND POSTURING – WARRIOR MIND-EYE CONTACT
• STRONG DESIRE TO CROSS TRAIN
• BELIEF IN OBLIGATION TO AVOID INTENTIONALLY INJURING AN OPPONENT
• AGGRESSIVENESS UNDER CONTROL
• ABILITY TO CONTAIN EMOTION UNDER STRESS
• ABILITY TO CHANNEL NEGATIVITY TO PHYSICAL OUTPUT
• EXTREME COMPETITIVENESS
• DESIRE TO CROSS TRAIN / GAIN TOP NOTCH PHYSICAL FITNESS
• OBLIGATION TO TEAM
• BELIEF THAT A TEAM IS ONLY AS GOOD AS IT’S WEAKEST SKATER
• DESIRE TO FAIRLY AND LEGALLY OBLITERATE OPPONENT
• ABILITY TO SKATE WITHOUT THOUGHT, ACTION AS FIRST RESPONSE
I can talk about the above all day long to help skaters improve / help myself improve but the words are not always heard. I would never claim to be a great skater or to have all of the answers, but what I can do is share what I know and what I’ve come to realize over time. I hope to learn as much from each of my skaters regardless of their skill level as much as I hope to give to them.
In the car driving back to Seattle from Kennewick I’m embracing the visual beauty before me; rolling green – brown hills, light, bright yellow trees – quiet warmth of sun on my legs through the window. The ominous clouds of the pass are just ahead as we aim towards the inevitable Seattle darkness. I’m also embracing the dark ahead, and know of course, that it is temporary. We’re sitting in the middle a cosmic paradox, as if it’s “all of us” balancing in the center of a BIGASS level that shoots the little blob of goo off – center when we lean too hard. We must pull together to stay centered.
I feel sadness when I see the people I care about stressing the small stuff. The positive outweighs the negative in so many ways and I just wish I could get everyone to see the gifts that are given to them. For the record, I also wish my kids would understand that when I say .. “Hey, if YOU were REALLY cool, you would KNOW that I’M really cool, it happens to be the truth.