Perfectly prep for a tournament

I love tournaments! So far, I haven’t actually played in one. Mostly I’ve gone as a bench coach, alternate, or observer. While I hope that will change this next weekend when my team returns to the Low Down Throw Down tournament in Augusta, I have noticed a few things that may help you better prepare for your next tournament.

  1. Put together a first aid kit. Yes, there will be medics at the venue, but this is for after. There will be aches and pains, bumps and bruises that need nursing before your next game. Make sure to pack Ibuprofen (maybe a PM version if you’re also having trouble sleeping), braces for those old injuries that like to act up sometimes, one-use
    tabu on fire

    Tabu is on fire! (Photo by Brian Greer)

    ice packs (these were a lifesaver for my teammates last year), and allergy meds (even if yours don’t get bad, someone’s will). Throw in a bag of Epsom Salt, too. There’s nothing like a good soak after a long day of derby.

  2. Pack a lunch. And a snack. And probably dinner. You don’t know what your food options will be at or near the venue. It would suck to play your heart out in a game and only have hot dogs and nachos available to eat after. Last year at LDTD, my teammate Hello Kidney brought roasted chicken, quinoa, and brussels sprouts. It was delicious! If you don’t have the time or resources to pack something that fancy, bring a sandwich. Just make sure it’s something healthy that will give your body fuel for the next game. It also doesn’t hurt to bring extra in case a teammate needs something to eat as well.
  3.  Prepare to sit. Since you won’t be playing the entire time, you don’t want to get cold and sore from sitting around the venue. Bring a jacket and sweatpants to keep warm. It also couldn’t hurt to bring a cushion in case you end up sitting on the floor.
  4. If you’re a shift worker, you’ll need a nap. For those of us who work weird hours, tournament weekend is going to throw off your sleep schedule. Elektra Q-Tion mentioned on her blog that she brought an air mattress to a tournament to nap between games. Bring an air mattress or just a pillow and sleep mask. Find a locker room or quiet corner to curl up and catch a few Zzzzs, so you’ll be alert and refreshed for the next game. To prevent being woken up by noise, use earplugs or headphones.

For more ideas on how you can prepare for the perfect tournament weekend, read Booty Quake‘s and Elektra Q-Tion‘s posts on the topic.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s to a Healthy, Happy Me

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Each year, I set new goals for myself. While most tend to be fitness related, my approach to this year is a little different. I still want to improve my fitness level in order to be a better Savannah Derby Devil, but mostly I want to be healthy mentally.

In 2014, the hits never stopped coming. Some changes were good (moving back to Savannah, rejoining SDD); some were not so good (relatives dying, being financially strapped). Starting off this year, I decided to do a lot of organizing: organizing my training time, organizing work, organizing time spent with the hubs, organizing my PR work for the team.

It’s a lot to manage, and at times last year, I admit I felt like breaking. But this year is different. This year I will focus on being happy. If something I’m doing isn’t making me happy, that’s a clue to evaluate what’s actually causing me unhappiness and fix it.

So far, things seem to be going well. January has been a relatively stress-free month. The hubs and I are bonding over training and cooking healthy meals together, my boss and coworkers are happy with efforts I’ve put in, and (this one is super important) I’ve organized my league’s PR calendar through the end of the year!!!! That one is such a huge relief. I can honestly say I’m happy right now.

My hope is to blog at least twice a month this year; not as much as in years past, but I really let my busy life kill my blog schedule last year, so this is me now…easing back into it.

Five ways we cheat our teams

We’d all like to think we’re always a good teammate, but you’re human. You are going to screw things up at some point. By nature, we try to reason our way out of feeling bad about it. All of us have done it, including me. Think of this as a friendly reminder that, instead of denying it, accept it, and vow to do better.

1. Miss practice… a lot.

You had to work, traffic was a mess, your kid/significant other/dog/cat/parakeet is sick, you’re too tired. Life is crazy for trainingeveryone. You are no exception. But don’t let all these excuses pile up. If you notice you are only making it to three or fewer practices a month, you need to reevaluate your priorities.

Maybe you need to take a break from derby to take care of things in your life. That’s fine. Derby will be there when you are ready to come back. You’re team will learn to go on in your absence. (If you’re missing because you’re tired all the time, check out this link for reasons you may be more tired than usual.)

Maybe you’re skipping because your coach or trainer is going over skills you already know. Wake up call! You aren’t that good. If you think the skill is easy, find ways to make it harder for yourself.

The most successful teams are successful because their players show up to practice. “But, Eenie, I don’t skate for London or Gotham or Texas. I skate for [insert league name here].” Doesn’t matter. You can’t expect your team to improve if you and others keep finding excuses not to show up. Every time you miss a practice, someone has to take time away from the next practice to tell or show you what you missed.

If improving and winning isn’t motivation enough, check out this link.

2. Give up.

You showed up to practice. Awesome! But now you’re bored, you lack motivation, or the drill is too hard. You give up. If your team can’t count on you to give it your all during practice, how can they possibly count on you to give it your all during a game?

During off skates or endurance drills for the Psych Ward Sirens, it wasn’t uncommon to hear someone yell out “last jam.” It meant start thinking about what you’re doing as skating the last jam of a game. Two minutes left to win a game and every second, every decision counts. Start visualizing every burpee as another point scored. Start thinking of every lap around the track as a grand slam.

Statistically, you will skate better at practice than at a game, so if you are giving up at practice, you will give up sooner during a bout. Get your mind right before it means risking a win. (The exceptions here are physical pain or dizziness. Those are legitimate reasons to pull off or ease up. Please don’t die on the track.)

3. Avoid cross training.

Souxsie Skoolyard wants you to cross-train. Don't disappoint her.

Souxsie Skoolyard wants you to cross-train. Don’t disappoint her.

Part of the reason I started playing derby was because it didn’t involve running. Now I can’t imagine playing derby without doing some running and other kinds of workouts in my own time.

Why should you cross train? To perform better for your team. It isn’t necessarily to lose weight, though that does happen a little. Running helps build endurance and certain types of running will help prevent injury (check out Booty Quake’s video on building happy knees), core workouts help you recover from falls quickly and keep you from getting knocked over as easily, and plyometrics will help you be more agile on the track.

If you take the initiative to cross-train, the results will be noticeable to your teammates.

4. Don’t research.

Do you have a teammate who knows a lot about rules, techniques, or skate maintenance? Do you know how she learned all of that? She researched it. She took time out of her day to look up how to do something. She reads up on the new rule set before it goes into effect. She wonders how to get better at a certain skills, so she looks up videos on YouTube. This is something you should be doing, too. If you have a question, look it up. Don’t rely on that one person to always know the answer.

When I started playing derby, my team had to figure out how to do knee falls based off of written instructions and pictures. There were no how-to blogs or vlogs back then. You just tried stuff and, if it didn’t hurt too much, you accepted that as the way you were supposed to do it. There are so many resources available now. Use them.

Some of the places I go for derby knowledge:

You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me Loose Wheel

Kamikaze Kitten’s Facebook Page

Roller Derby Junkies

Cobra Kai Derby Coach

Little Anecdote

5. Don’t volunteer.

Volunteer to promote your team in parades while wearing really pink shirts.

Volunteer to promote your team in parades while wearing really pink shirts.

This is something that happens to every team. Absolutely every team. It always feels like five people are doing the work for the entire league. In some cases, that’s because they are control freaks who don’t know how to delegate. In other cases, it’s because those are the only five people willing to volunteer.

All the excuses listed in point number one get used here as well. Look, I get it. You have a life outside of derby. But last I checked, derby leagues were still volunteer-driven organizations. Do you like having money to travel for away games? Do you like having people show up to bouts? Do you like for those bouts to run smoothly? Then volunteer.

I have teammates who think they have terrible voices for radio, but they still volunteer for the radio interviews because they want people to show up to the game. I know players who are terrified of talking to strangers, but will hassle businesses into being sponsors because they don’t want to use their own money for that plane ticket to ECDX. We’d all like to show up to the bout venue right before we play, and then leave immediately after, but the track doesn’t set up and tear down itself. Be cool. Volunteer.

Aside from volunteering being good for the team, did you know it’s also good for your heart? Yep. There was a study and everything.

As my former teammate, Singapore Rogue, would say, this has been #realtalk. I’ve been hearing a lot of grumbling lately in the derby community about some of these things, so it’s nice to have a refresher… even for myself.

Getting out there… really out there

Last weekend, I strapped horns to my helmet and chased terrified runners through the streets of New Orleans with a pink, plastic bat. This wasn’t one of my weird derby dreams (like the one where we had a bout at Ikea and then Jenetic Defect decided to skate home on Interstate 10). This really happened, and it’s been happening for a while.

nola bulls 2013

The San Fermin in Nueva Orleans will go into it’s eighth year in 2014 and is a great opportunity for derby leagues across the U.S. (and possibly the world) to promote the sport. If you are unfamiliar with the event, I’ll explain. No animals are harmed. Instead of actual bulls, the run utilizes  the lovely ladies of Big Easy Rollergirls and as many other derby girls as they can find. The bulls attach horns to their helmets and chase after runners. No one of gored. Slow runners simply get whacked on the bum with a plastic bat.

This was my first year to participate, even though I’ve been hearing about it for a while. My old teammate, Violet Seizure, lives in Savannah now, but used to live in New Orleans. Before I moved to Houston, we had talked about going together. Despite now living in two different cities, we both  made the trek to the Big Easy this year to skate together again.

violet

The Big Easy Rollergirls make the most of their involvement with the Bull Run. The night before the run, they held a brief exhibition scrimmage at the Sugar Mill during packet pick up. One of the players even had the date of the next bout written in glitter paint across the back of her shorts. Players also manned an information/merch table over the weekend.

A little scrimmage goes a long way.

A little scrimmage goes a long way.

Of course, it wasn’t just the Big Easy players promoting their team. While visiting some New Orleans hot spots, Houston Roller Derby’s Flyon Maiden sold tickets for our upcoming bout to two tourists who said they’d be in our town this weekend.

During the weekend, I saw and met players from leagues all over Louisiana, Texas, Florida, and Alabama. I spotted a skater for Rose City and heard that Rat City had a few players there, too. Runners came from all over as well. I talked to several out-of-state runners about teams in their areas and encouraged them to check them out.

Events like this give skaters an opportunity to network with other teams and introduce people to your sport and team. Is it RollerCon? No, but it’s random things like this that help us spread the word about something we love. If you don’t have anything SFNO in your area, maybe it’s time to start something.

I’ve posted something on this as well, but it’s always worth repeating. Protect your brain! You only get one.

Weight Plates and Roller Skates

I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up with the headlines, but there’s been a (potentially) major break-through in concussion science.  Basically, U.S. scientists believe they have developed a way to detect CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), in living athletes.  CTE is a concussion-related brain disease, which can bring on depression, personality changes, and dementia.  Up until this find, it was only detectable by autopsy.

Read more here.

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It’s been found posthumously in the brains of a number of NHL and NFL players, including NFL linebacker Junior Seau, age 43, who committed suicide last May, and NHL enforcer Derek Boogaard, age 28, who died of an overdose in May 2011.  Scientists say that this new discovery may aid in finding early interventions for those showing signs of the disease, and may lead to improved concussion management strategies.

Great news, right?

Well, yes.  Provided the information about the potential long-term effects…

View original post 1,280 more words

Derby on the tube

“The Bachelor”, “Bunheads” and “Bones”. Within a week, all three shows featured roller derby. They aren’t the first shows to use our sport to boost ratings.

“CSI: Miami” and “Psych” both featured felonious derby girls. Reality shows like “Anthony

Love "Psych" but don't love this episode.

Love “Psych” but don’t love this episode.

Bourdain: No Reservations” and “Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy” saw both hosts attempting to skate. Larry gets bonus points for actually talking with a flat track team: Sin City Roller Girls. Bourdain tried with the LA Derby Dolls, the team also used in “Bunheads”, “Bones” and “The Bachelor.” (Seriously, do casting agents not realize other derby teams exist?)

It seems Hollywood is cashing in on the derby “trend”. I put trend in quotes because that’s certainly how they seem to treat it. They aren’t treating it like a sport. If they treated it like a sport, the writers would read the rule book, or actually attend a bout. Producers would say, “Hey, flat track is the more prevalent version of roller derby being played around the world. Let’s use that instead of banked.” But none of this is happening, and it’s up to us, the players, to correct all the misconceptions these shows raise.

  • Most teams aren’t banked track.
  • We don’t throw elbows or punch each other in the face.
  • It isn’t staged.
  • I don’t know where the writers for “Psych” got the idea to use tape like that. No team I’ve ever heard of uses tape to mark a player for a hit.
  • Yes, we get hurt sometimes, but we wear safety gear and have rules to prevent a lot of injuries. The contestant on “The Bachelor” should have been wearing a mouth guard. I have no clue how that one chick on “Bones” ended up with a scalp laceration. Was she not wearing a helmet?
  • No, we don’t run around burglarizing stores and killing people (“Psych”). We work, go to school, raise families, and go to practice. Who has time to commit felonies?
  • Yes, I’ve heard of players stealing money from the team (“Bones”), but none of those cases ended with a player being stabbed in the eye. They’re just kicked off the team and sometimes prosecuted.

It’s easy to get upset when people ask if roller derby is like this show or that movie, even I get annoyed. But you have to view it as a conversation starter. Don’t shut down the conversation with a bunch of snarky comments. Maybe the person asking you is actually interested in derby, but wants to make sure she/he isn’t committing to something as crazy as what they’ve seen on TV. Take a moment to explain the realities of derby and encourage them to come to a bout to see for themselves.

Also, I’m not mad at the LA Derby Dolls. Whatever they’re doing seems to be working for them. Those women pack the house for bouts and attract some great sponsors. They are a team located in LA and are obviously known in the television community. The team is only taking advantage of an opportunity that most of us would jump at as well.

monster highHonorable mentions go to “My Little Pony”, and “Monster High” for portraying derby in a more favorable light. Since junior derby is growing, I think it’s great that young skaters have their own conversation starters with these shows. I know that “Weeds” and “Bunheads”also featured junior derby (banked track), which is great for some of the older juniors.

I would like to mention one show that promotes derby in the quietest of ways. Every once in a while you can catch Abby on “NCIS” sporting a Psych Ward Sirens shirt. I’m a Siren, and this makes me insanely happy. The show doesn’t use us as a trope. We aren’t a punch line. We’re just there.

abby-sciuto-and-psych-ward-sirens-shirt-gallery

There are some shows I haven’t mentioned that used roller derby. “Futurama” and “King of the Hill” come to mind. Feel free to add any shows you know of in the comments. Also, what’s your take on derby being used on TV? Does it help or hurt us?

Oh, and one little thing I forgot to mention before. I actually started playing roller derby because of a short-live reality show called “Rollergirls”. It only had one season and aired on A&E. Because of that show, two of my friends decided to start Panama City Roller Derby. Sometimes good things come out of TV shows.
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You can be a Mean Girl or a Derby Girl.

Everyone always talks about derby drama and how much they hate it. Sometimes, though, you aren’t the victim of derby drama. You are the cause. How can you tell if you’re a Mean Girl? There really isn’t a sufficient answer. Every Mean Girl is different.

Types of Mean Girls

  1. Clique Girls – These girls have a tight-knit group. They constantly judge other members of the team and feel they are the best players the league has to offer. Sometimes they allow new members into the group, but it’s usually to further an objective.
  2. Scheming Girls – These girls are found at the epicenter of every fight or disagreement. They always have something negative to say about everything and everyone. That player who has to start crap at every league meeting after every idea is a Scheming Girl. She can work alone or sometimes be apart of a Clique Girl’s group.
  3. Gruff Girls – GGs aren’t necessarily Mean Girls, but they have a tendency to come across as judgmental when they are legitimately giving feedback. Do your teammates seem shocked when you say something nice? You might be a Gruff Girl.

These are the three main Mean Girls I’ve dealt with in my career. It’s very easy to fall into the Mean Girl class. In fact, I’ve caught myself wandering into that territory before. But being a Mean Girl means you have stopped being a derby girl and become a high school stereotype. It also means you are holding back your team.

To rewire your brain and get your team back on track, start with two simple ideas.

  1. Watch your tone. – Keep in mind how your words sound. Do they sound whiny or harsh? You may want to rephrase what you are saying then.
  2. Admit you aren’t the best. – Sure, you may be the best on your team now, but you won’t always be the best. Someone who skates faster or hits harder will come along. Instead of complaining about how slow your team is, you should be working to help members improve.

Quitting your Mean Girl attitude is a bit like quitting a substance. The first step is admitting you have a problem.