Thursday, November 29, 2007

Relinquishing Responsibility

I’m a really responsible person. I’m the person at work who you know will get something done, and fast at that. I make budgets because it’s fun. I like writing business plans. I like planning, period. My boss calls me the “Events Planner” and my boyfriend calls me the “Events Coordinator.” I’m the one who organizes bagels at work on Fridays and the Twelve Days of Christmas food-a-thon each December at work (each person participating is assigned a day to bring in a home made sweet!). I’m also the kind of person who signs up for everything. In derby, I think I’ve been on every committee known to woman. I’m a founder and LLC member, a board member, the Sponsorship Director, I’m on the Merch Committee, and I’m announcing for the Travel Team this season. In the past, I’ve also been the Treasurer, a Travel Team member, on the Art Committee, Fundraising Committee, and co-captain of my home team, Speed Regime. We just recently held team captain elections for my home team, and I did the oddest thing: I pulled out.

I love my team. I take pride in the fact that we’re the only team in our league who hasn’t been plagued by drama. Not that it hasn’t presented itself, but because we choose to be drama free and none of us buy into it. Two years ago, when our team formed, no one wanted to be captain, so my best friend, Betty Beatdown (the person who introduced me to derby), and I said we’d do it. Only, I said I’d be CO-captain, since I was doing so much in derby already.

Our first year came easily. We did no outside practicing, not really knowing what it meant to be part of a roller derby team. We knew we loved the game and were stronger as a team than any one person ever would be. We grew together. Our first year passed, and we remained undefeated until the championship game where we lost by 2 points in the final 2 minutes. We learned a valuable lesson that year about game strategy and when to use time-outs properly to stack a roster when it’s needed.

Consequently, this past year we really focused on strategy and game play. At the same time, there was a real struggle within the league to step up our game – everyone’s game. Prior to the season, there were a lot of complaints made by people who couldn’t keep up with the fast pace of the practices. I spent a lot of time talking with and encouraging some larger ladies who were really struggling – mentally and physically. Some made it through, others didn’t. In the end, the majority of us stuck it out and became better people for it. And Speed Regime? I think we even surprised ourselves by our final performance, which we again lost to the same team as the year before. This time, it was just their day to win. We did our utmost best, and on another day, we would have won that championship game. The past year was full of cultivating upcoming superstars on our team and teaching new players, so they could be the returning, reliable vets we had been the year before. This past year I really began to feel comfortable in my co-captain leadership role. So, why did I give up something I was so proud of and liked doing so much? Why did I take myself out of the running for captain?

Prior to our championship game this past year we had our players fill out a survey about their playing preferences and people they felt they worked well with. We then looked over all the responses before we built the final roster, because we felt it was best to put people in jams together who felt they worked well together. That’s when I realized I had become “coach” or “captain” and no longer “teammate.” No one, not a single one of my teammates put my name down as someone they worked well with. I was shocked and devastated, but once I stepped back from it, I realized what had happened. I was too busy directing others to be a real part of the team. I hadn’t really improved much in the last season. I had become that person who sacrificed themselves for everyone else. This was in no way my teammate’s faults. They didn’t ask me to do this. It’s a role I just assumed. And by doing this, I think I was actually hurting the team more than I was helping them. After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I’m tired of being tired and feeling better suited for “management” than playing. Is this why I got into derby? No. It would be nice if I could find that balance between helping my team via captaining and helping myself, but I know from experience that I cannot do that – at least right now.

This coming season I want to shine. I want to get back to being that bad-ass player I was before we even split up into teams. I want to focus on myself and push my own physical limits to see what I can do – without any distractions. I feel a bit like Babe Ruth (the man, not the candy bar) in that I’ve stepped up to the plate and am pointing to the stands where my yet-to-be-hit home run is going to go. It feels kind of scary, but also kind of exhilarating. I can’t wait to see where this year takes me.

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