I stopped blogging for awhile because I wasn’t feeling very strong, or maybe the word was weary.. or just hitting the wall.
Here is the vision:
1). Mainstream the sport of roller derby
- Create a system / league / network / whatever, where derby is a vehicle for strength regardless of agenda or someone’s personal goals.
- Have Roller Derby (as the norm) be viewed as a sport
- Separate Athletes from Social Skaters
- Have Social Skaters stop resenting athletes.
- Have Athletes accept social skaters. Everyone has to start somewhere, and we didn’t grow up with derby as an option as are juniors are now. People need to learn somewhere.
My vision has remained exactly what it has been from the very first day I began OneWorld Roller Derby. I am very lucky to have met so many wonderful people along the way so far, and I continue to meet amazing people every day because of roller derby.
Over the past year I’ve lost several skaters and I know exactly why. There are a multitude of variables that come into play and I see it all very clearly.
- My words aren’t strong enough
- My voice isn’t loud enough
- My vision is not something that is easy or quick to see or implement.
- I am unable to articulate what is possible in simple terms.
- People see what they want to see
- People frequently form opinions on gossip and misinformation
- Roller Derby itself is a remarkable phenomenon.
- Attempting to make a dent in the landscape of an entire sport is insane at best.
This last part is especially true when working without funding. The insanity is bumped up a notch when the person with vision and no funding is personally downwardly mobile and literally scrambling to make ends meet on a monthly, weekly and daily basis while attempting to not be the worst mother on the planet.
The difficulty is exacerbated by dealing (or not dealing) with the fallout of breast cancer.
So enough about me, let’s talk about my personal view…. Oh wait! That’s still me!
On my end along the way I see wonderful people who (for many of them) I’ve taught to skate with the primary goal of instilling confidence in them. I go, I coach, I encourage, I stay optimistic during the most difficult of times. I see people, I take time to notice them (helping other people get through this world helps me to cope because it is hard). I am ALWAYS thrilled when I see players become stronger and grow. Then it happens…..one day someone begins to pull away. Then another… then another… I become baffled because no one will tell me specific things they are upset about, or maybe I just don’t notice things that other people do.
For people such as myself who struggle with social skills and non verbal communication this is a life long issue and now this has all come to a head.
I tell my coaches that we cannot favor any player or team over another, it is about the bigger picture, not personal agenda. I will hold strong to this position as one of my highest values. This is a much bigger picture for me than personal agenda.
When I started my league, it was not because I wanted to have it become something like the “Real” derby leagues. I started this BECAUSE I saw that there had to be an alternative. I was very lucky to be on two other leagues before starting my own. I didn’t start my own for the glory, or for the “money” ( giggling now) . I started it to SHARE it and hopefully carve out a way to get by at the same time. Derby is the GOOD thing, the rest of life is hard. When derby became full of drama I had to leave and start my own. It was literally about survival. I never promised to have it look like what anyone else thought it should be. I hoped I could get a little bit of skating in while my window is / was still open.
I’ve never held back on advanced drills for lack of knowing them or understanding them, it is because I have a philosophy of skills before drills, which means everyone should be able to have awareness on the track at every moment and have agility skills in place before being involved in scrimmages.
Derby today is a culture of community & strength; alternately it is a breeding ground for bullying and posturing. It is empowering and it is devastating. It is NOT like any other sport where the etiquette or the criteria for advancement is understood,. In other sports, the way the leagues run isn’t questioned and participants take what is given to them. With derby there is a personal element of achievement and strength that is unlike anything else combined with a bafflingly fierce sense of democracy and entitlement.
For this to be a sport we must move beyond this environment of judgment, blame and finger pointing.
Here is an example of things that I have heard during the past year, many more times than once, in my efforts to share:
- People think you are weak.
- People think you are arrogant.
- You are too emotional.
- You are not safe here.
- People think you are disorganized.
- The Hot Flash is a bully.
- The Hot Flash is biased as to which team she is on.
- You talk too much
- You should just keep this as a rec league.
- You are good with beginners…… just keep it that way.
Roller Derby is a volcano.
Is it a necessary evil? Is Evil Necessary? Is it impossible to extract Athletes from social skating without explosion / fallout?
I thought …just maybe… I could build a sports league within today’s culture of roller derby and that people would accept the opportunity. Who knows, maybe that will still happen. At the core of my league are beloved people who are sincere and supportive and there are people who have no clue what I am doing and very possibly believe the exact opposite of what I see that lies ahead.
At this juncture I am thrilled to be able to help USARS grow by being invited onto the BOD, and it is at exactly the same time as the details of the very first city -run & administered league are being worked out. This is coming to Seattle starting in January of 2014; USARS Seattle Roller Derby.
I love the puzzle pieces, I truly do. What a fascinating ride this is.