April and Demolicious and what they mean to Roller Derby

I love Jerry’s blogs.


Equity Endeavor's Small Business Crowdfunding Blog: Equity Endeavor Featured Small Biz of the Week: TXRD – Texas Roller Derby, Austin.

Please click the above link.

There are two absolutely indescribable women in Roller Derby……actually a lot more but this is about two who just defy description.

April Ritzenhaler is featured in the article above: 13 years ago she and the women of Austin started all this skating madness again when they were conned by Devil Dan to start Derby, he disappeared with the money, but they did it anyway and founded modern Roller Derby on the banked track. Eventually some skaters split off and started the Texas Roller Girls on the flat track….So here is the Garden of Eden for modern Derby.

April is such a special woman; she has a special aura and you want to hear what she says and pay close attention because she is brilliant…and…

View original post 213 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Six Signs That Your Relationship With Roller Derby is In Trouble

Six Signs That Your Relationship With Roller Derby is In Trouble.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shake it off.

Revisiting an important post originally written December 5th 2013.

When I struggle with something, the reason I share it is not to get attention or to just be neurotic ( oh, though rest assured it is true), but it’s because I don’t want to just be an “image” of strength or have a self-crafted persona that is always cheery.

I share it because I have a very precious gift of being able to bounce back and shake it off, to keep moving forward despite hurdles.  I like to be able to remind each other that we all have this ability but we often forget about it. If you have been a victim of trauma, or loss (isn’t that pretty much almost everyone?)  remember it is in the past, there is no need to move forward with the voice of a victim or carry that in the future. All we can do is take action, thoughts will not change a thing if we don’t set them into motion.

I am a believer in community and the power of influence that we have on one another. That influence can easily go in a positive or negative direction.

We are here together in this world, right now, amazingly. Some of us have illness, financial devastation, family members who suffer or whatever other curve balls that come up for humans.

Let’s all work together to help each other out, show kindness and forgiveness of ourselves and one another. WE CAN make this would, OUR world a better place.

We shouldn’t waste a single day. And if we do, too bad. That is forgivable. Shake it off and keep on keepin’ on.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Outwardly Mobile

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.

Social Skating:

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Union Ride and Charity

THIS is going to be great and is happening right after we sponsor the USARS Region 1 qualifiers.

Mark your calendars, check it out and you could even win the first ever custom Seahawks Harley.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Please support Region 1 USARS Qualifiers


Please help us make this event successful by becoming a sponsor, vendor or volunteer!

You can help us make a difference!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Time to BLOG and HEY….. USARS!

I am personally thankful for the WFTDA organization for resurrecting roller derby. I love and respect all of the wonderful and dedicated people I’ve met or seen who continue to work and make it grow.

The majority of derby  ( fact – On April 1st 2013, out of 1451 known leagues, 176 were WFTDA),  is a fractured derby community. Now as it is beginning to come together using USARS (USA Roller Sports) rules as a common link there is a ton of buzz.  This  makes me a very happy camper since I’ve been shouting that there has to be more initiative to have random leagues come together for over three years now. But it is not all a dream world; Choices must be made that will make or break it.

USARS is the current rule set of (my) choice mainly because not just the no stopping on the track part, or pivot breaking, but because  it is the most likely one to take hold and bring random leagues together for competition. For many leagues there’s NO chance of ever being in any type of regional tournament and together we can change this.

USARS is a fast and defensive game.  A drawback is that it seems to be the opposite of a stopped pack; it is pretty much only a race of speed and endurance. This is THE best option in my opinion but there must be a middle ground found here soon in order for the majority of leagues to be willing to support it.  That is thing number 1.

Thing number two: As of today, USARS must seriously work very quickly to create a presence in this sport and need all of the help they can get.   Time will tell if it will continue to emerge and those of us with big mouths have to take it from here, we need it to happen.  We need to do it regardless of the tweaking that needs to, and will take place.

A critical aspect in favor of USARS rules is that in the eyes of the world, USARS is mainstream, it isn’t about a roller derby stereotype, and using it can help break that stereotype for the people who we need to have see it in a different light. Not that I think that there is anything wrong with the stereotypical derby, it is ALL good.  All skaters are equally important regardless of why they skate, but we need for some of the world to see the light.

Here is who I’d like to see viewing roller derby as a mainstream sport:

  • Schools
  • City parks departments
  • Community centers
  • Sport enthusiasts
  • Mainstream media.

Let’s use it anyway and support this forward movement.

Let’s get loud and vocal. Let’s share resources and get this going, everyone should have an option to play in a system that means something to more than a select few.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

All we have is time

This blog started out as a way to talk about the most extraordinary sport IN the world WITH the world (Roller Derby of course), and at the suggestion of a friend it has morphed into a way for me to process and share my experience with breast cancer.

This post was written last March 6th 2012 but I see I never got around to publishing it.

When I found out that I had masses in my left breast I was surprised at my lack of reaction to the point of detachment. I truly didn’t feel anything or care. I’d survived my first mastectomy just fine. The fact that I was detached took gladly and didn’t know if it was a coping skill or real acceptance; it didn’t matter. I still don’t know which it was but I do know that I no longer feel that way as I approach November 6th at 9:30 am when I have my 2nd mastectomy.

What we know and what we feel aren’t always the same things. What I know is that it doesn’t matter at all if I have breasts or not, but what I feel is that I’m growing older and have moments of insecurity about my identity as a woman. I also know that the feelings come and go; when I keep the positive behaviors in place such as running, skating, being productive and staying on task it is overall a much better way to live. Shouldn’t it be this way always? Why should having this upcoming surgery make it any different?

As the moments are coming and going more frequently now, I think I’ve narrowed down the culprit which really isn’t about my identity or even about breasts or cancer. My sadness lies in the belief that I won’t wake up from the surgery. OK.. I KNOW this is not rational thinking but until now it hasn’t really even been a conscious thought. What I KNOW is that I will be back on skates in January coaching at the Bellevue Parks and skating on a team. What I feel is heartbreak when I see people sweating the small stuff,treating each other unkindly, or taking one another for granted. Don’t they realize that we are here together and how precious time is? Why would anyone go out of their way to spread rumors about someone else? I don’t understand how people can speculate about what someone else is thinking then ACCEPT THAT AS FACT.

Sometimes people speculate about what they would do if they know they only had so much time to be here, but the reality is that we should have this awareness each and every day; not out of morbid thinking or doom and gloom but to really try make a difference for each other wheile we are here.

I think the difficulty for me personally, lies in that I do have this awareness each and every day of my life, which sometimes isn’t the best thing. The biggest mystery in the world to me is why people choose FEAR, which to me is anything other than strength, health or love.

If we work together in this small world to make it a better place we will get SO much further. If I give $1 to a crazy person on the street, go out of my way to tell someone that they are important, be a good sport, share what I know, start a team, a league, a circuit, a movement, gain MOMENTUM it comes down to why I think we are here at all. We’re just here to spread the love. Let’s make it easy for each other to do so and move forward with open hearts and minds.

Oh, and it is ok to want to obliterate your opponent if it is done legally, fairly and without intent to injure. 🙂

I do love it here.

Posted in Breast Cancer, Fitness, Mastectomy, Reconstruction, Roller Derby, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We must let Joel know his mother and he are part of the Derby family.

We must let Joel know his mother and he are part of the Derby family..

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why being human can suck at times.

The first thing I remember was sitting on the porch of our home in Kansas City when I was a baby. I recall this as a game, a “mind” game of losing myself through meditation. I remember making the decision to “do it again”, then closing my eyes tight while rocking. During the rocking I would chant in my head these words: ME! ME! MY! MY! I….I….I….ME! MYSELF!! I….I…I…. until I was no longer in human form. At this point I wold become frightened and run into the house and hold my mothers legs. I was under age two.

Over the years I tried doing this again with less and less success until I finally stopped trying.

I learned from my mother that I was loved,  but over time she could no longer make me feel safe. Out of respect for the living I won’t go into detail about how I learned the lesson that I was worthless…… Actually the lesson was not so much that I was worthless, but more than that; I was repulsive, unlovable, hideous, and that no one would ever love me because… “well, just look at you! (grab face, pull in front of mirror).. just look! Don’t you make yourself want to barf by looking at yourself?

This was what I hid from each day until I went to school, where the comments were less overt but still holding the same hostility.

Coke bottle glasses, thick and course mushroom hair, skinny legs and I used to try to prove I was nice enough to love. That under the glasses I MUST be pretty, This isn’t who I am. … at home, fear, always the fear that I would be outside of my room at the wrong moment.

I wanted to play football and baseball, I loved to wrestle; I was good at those things. When Id approach my dad to tell him I wanted to play on the little league team (because I could SEE I was a better pitcher than my neighbor) I remember the booming “Who do you think you ARE!!.. you are a GIRL!”

I learned to laugh like crazy to entertain myself, I had a best friend, we laughed and laughed all of the time.

Summer 1970 after 8th grade brings breasts, contact lenses and tossing away the hairbrush to allow a curly head of hair. In high school suddenly people became friendly, the people who had gagged two years prior as I walked past. Wow, isn’t THIS fucked up ?? I wondered… But life was much less scary when people were friendly.

My first boyfriend took me to a party where I got stoned; trembling in the corner of the couch amongst seniors, I was just 15. Soon I was drinking and laughing and laughing with more of my new best friends.

At home I’d talk about what I wanted to “do” when I grew up and I always got the same laughing comment that I’d marry someone rich and learn to cut hair to have something to fall back on.

Age 19 living with that boyfriend back from age 15, only now he is beating me up. My mom calling me each day to tell me that my father would die if he knew I was living with my boyfriend and why don’t you get married?Please honey, just gett married… I knew that I needed to be away from someone who didn’t know how nice I was, away from someone who held knives to my throat. After much pleading, bribes and desperately not wanting to kill my father I got married.

I kept laughing and laughing when I could, it helped a lot…………”where are my grandkids???…..

The precious girls are 2 and 4 when I call 911 to escape the promised execution which I stalled after dialing by provoking a fight first. We never went home again; my best friend was soon greeting me at the front door to tell me that there was no child support and I should go. My mom gave me $20 and my dad said he didn’t care if we killed one another.

I realized that my problems were only financial and people with sick children would give anything to be in my shoes. I loved them so, those babies.

I was proud to say that I never paid rent late even when I went back to school to get my first ever 4.gpa while working part time and being a mom. Nonetheless I moved 12 times in 13 years because of one thing or another… house sold… building condos…. grandpa’s moving back…. sold house… building a condo…. sold house… etc. My kids thought I liked to move because I never let them see my despair. My family thought I was just flaky.

Everywhere I moved to I had a nice house and baked cookies. I made sure that the girls had nice rooms and felt like we were a family. They had as much consistency as I could give, driving to schools and daycares out of whatever neighborhood I wound up in, I always had jobs that would let me be home after school; it broke my heart that they could be latch key kids.

I worked hard to make them feel valuable and loved and made sure they would hear the things I didn’t hear like: you can do anything a boy can do… you are smart, clever, talented, kind and beautiful; you can do anything you want.

I became successful selling real estate. I was happy with my silly band, Donna Kay Honey and the Cowpokers.

They are 18 and 20 when I have another child who is now almost 15. The ugliness during 12 of those 14 years with that marriage is too much to tell but I did have a nice home, always and made sure that I ran, exercised and was a good role model. I kept trying to prove that I was a good person, a NICE person, a good mom.

My son was 9 and a temporary move intended as a wake up call brought the revelation that my husband wasn’t mad at the world, it was at me. “just her basic personality” was the reason I hear at marriage counseling.

I always call my best friend from middle school to ask “Now WHY is it people don’t like me:?” we laugh and laugh.. We don’t KNOW, I’m really NICE.

After death of a brother, mother and father, a divorce, sale of a brokerage, loss of beloved friends and estrangement from living relatives I decide I don’t belong in this world, I’m broken.

I job hunt but I’ve been self employed for over 15 years, there are no resources for downwardly mobile people. I had perfect fico scores, the ex files bankruptcy, I take all of it on and start a 2 year battle with the IRS which I later won, because I was right. I pay 98% of the marital debt but couldn’t get to the last bit of 2%.

Derby makes me realize I can have something good but when it becomes hard (because they don’t like me…. but why? I’m fk’n NICE, lol),  I start my own derby leagues, I want to let other people have the opportunity to feel strong, and maybe I can remain strong enough myself to stay in the world for my kids. The world isn’t a place I want to be if we can’t help each other through the pack.

I build it and I build it, I borrow money for gas to get to practices, I’m so proud of everyone. Many times I don’t think I can keep going but I do and then after three years I start getting some of my money back!! I did it!!!

Then I get breast cancer and have two mastectomies in 8 months. I get through that and get back to skating.

WOW!!! I did it!!! I am a warrior, I’m old, I can still skate, I am helping other’s experience this and I’ll make money somehow, I’ll sell some t-shirts! If I hold my head high, see the highest and best in everyone, forgive myself and each other for being human then the world will take care of me, there is no other possible outcome.

I think that if I add gear to my t shirt sales maybe there is a better chance of money walking through the door. Hey, I can sit at a shop as easily as I can work from home.

Then, I begin realize that people have strong opinions about me, They read between the lines of my comments, and as a pack see something that isn’t there. They begin backing away and I wonder if I imagine it.

I just want to share what I know, help everyone become strong and have a small income; I don’t need much.

I finally encounter someone honest, respectful and kind enough to let me know I’m not crazy, who indeed confirms my feelings of a collective cold shoulder, of scrutiny, of judgment about thinking about selling gear….. HUH? I just need to pay my bills somehow, this isn’t an option for me. How can someone judge this idea or even feel they have a right to an opinion about what I do to help support my family?

Humans run in packs, and I don’t understand the pack chasing the outsider to run away. The kind of pack I hope to create is one that has open arms for anyone and will help each other belong. Even me.  After 57 years I’m beginning to see how things work; that I view the world with eyes that must be from another planet. I don’t hope to fit in, I just hope to survive for awhile to experience more things.

Today I find out my son would prefer to live with his dad, and there is another lump.

I.. I…..ME! ME! Myself..myself!! ME! Me… if only I could have this chant take me where I remember that it could.

Tomorrow maybe I’ll skate it off and become a warrior again.

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments