Houston Roller Derby’s B travel team, the Knockouts, are 2 – 0 this season. As part of the bench team (Go, Team Bench Coach!) I’m madly proud of them. I also have to say that, even though they lost, I’m impressed with the teams we’ve played so far.
In our first bout of the season, the Knockouts beat the Cajun Rollergirls 310 to 65. Our next bout against the Spindletop Rollergirls, saw another win. This time it was 210 to 107. While I’m definitely happy about the wins, I can’t help but think of all the times I’ve seen scores like that against the team I was playing for. It’s disheartening, but derby players need to learn how to lose with grace, and when they’re winning, how to win with grace.
Despite the scores, both Cajun Rollergirls and Spindletop played with a lot of skill and a lot of heart. When they saw the score climbing higher in our favor, they could have gotten angry, but instead, they played like they were winning which made it fun for both teams.
Two teams I admire the most are also teams I’ve lost horribly to: Tallahassee and Appalachian. Tallahassee was the first team Panama City Roller Derby played against. I remember feeling confident we would win. (Dear gods, I was naïve.) They slaughtered us. But while the Tally players kept their game faces on the whole time, they weren’t jerks about winning. They just kept playing a good, strategic game. Afterwards, we all got delightfully drunk together. Tallahassee remained a close sister league to PCRD while I was there.
I’ve written about Appalachian before [The devil went down to Georgia… and decided to skate]. Recently, I watched the footage from that bout. It’s very clear how much fun both teams are having even in the face of a huge loss. I’m still impressed with the coolness and classiness of the Appalachian players. Makes me sad that my current team is so far away from them.
So how do you play with grace while losing?
- Don’t lose your head. Like the ridiculously overplayed poster reads, “Keep calm and carry on.” Losing your temper makes you play sloppily, and
certainly doesn’t help your team. It also leaves a bad impression with the crowd. Seriously, no one wants to see you throw a hissy fit.
- Play like you’re winning. If you’re the bench coach or line up caller, now is the time to play everyone. That player who never jams? Hand her the jammer panty and tell her to unleash hell. Let your jammers block for a while. Written line ups be damned. It’s time to have fun!
- Goof around with the opposing team. When Savannah was getting obliterated by Appalachian, we would take a few moments before the whistle to joke around. Many silly dances were caught on camera.
These same points apply to the winning team, too. If you have a massive lead, don’t be jerks about it. Yes, you should keep it competitive. (Games are won and lost with power jams now.) But don’t feel like you have to send out your all star line up every jam. Let your rookies have some fun.
Also, if you spot a player losing her cool on the track, let her sit out a few jams to calm down. It only takes one player’s bad attitude to ruin a team’s reputation. Even if you win, you never want to be the team of jerks who won. You want to be the team so cool that other teams actually have fun losing to you.
In summation, we aren’t getting paid to play. Let’s keep it fun.