Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Good Meeting

Over the course of my 3+ years involved in roller derby, I’ve attended a lot of meetings. What some people outside of a derby organization may not know is that a tremendous amount of work goes on behind the scenes by virtually every skater and even some non-skating volunteers. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: derby is a business. It’s a business that every member of every league helps to run for nothing more than the joy of skating and the ability to remain self-sustaining.

I’ve been to LLC meetings, Governance Board meetings, various committee meetings, committee chair meetings, meetings with our accountants and lawyers, meetings with WFTDA, etc., etc. Just last night I had a meeting!

Thinking about all these meetings brings me back to the very first meeting I remember being a part of: our neighborhood “club” meeting. I was 7 years old, and the other meeting attendees are 5, 6, and 8. The meeting was called by the 6-year old, and it was held at her house, in her bedroom. I remember as we knelt on the brown shag carpet, using her bed as our “round table,” the meeting didn’t get far at all. The only thing we could agree on is that we wanted to form a club. Where we got stuck was when we attempted to determine who the leader would be.

Twenty years later and still some things never change. Then again, sometimes they do. I find that not only has my perspective changed over time, but the collective perspectives (such as those of any one group, such as a league) change as well. I think every league (at least in its infancy) has gotten stuck in the weeds regarding leadership. I’ve come to accept that that’s natural. I’ve also noticed several other trends that seem to happen in leagues at various stages, including resentment against travel team members and general apathy. In the end, however, if you’re group is able to weather the storm, you find that you’ve become established. For better or worse, things are running. Sure, some things could be done better (and others could be done way better) if only we had the time to dedicate to them, but in general you get over the hump, through the bulk of the growing pains, and you’re actually able to not only put out fires but also to be proactive.

I’m not sure if my league is entirely through all its growing pains – in my opinions as long as you are growing there will be pains, and that’s inevitable and to be expected. What I am decidedly tickled and excited about is that we seem to be moving in a direction where the league leadership is actually service oriented. We’re viewing it as more than making decisions from up high, we’re digging into the nitty gritty to get things on paper and in order, so that we can grow.

Business fascinates me. Last night I dreaded missing practice to sit in the snack bar and attend my first board meeting after having been “off” for 6 months, but when I came home last night and J asked me how it went, I told him “It was a really good meeting.” I paused as I was putting away my bag, and I clarified, “I could be jinxing myself here, but I think that is the absolute best and most productive meeting I’ve ever attended.”

Usually the reward of all the hard back-end work is skating, but last night the reward was different. I can’t quite quantify what it was, but for the first time in a long time I came out of a meeting energized and excited. Part of it is the new group of board members we have, but another part of it is undoubtedly that we somehow (even if it was unknowingly) poised ourselves for growth and success, and for that I thank everyone who’s ever been a part of anything derby. Our growth is surely indicative of the sport at large, and again, I couldn’t be more excited.

This will be the last post this week. I’ll be vacationing tomorrow, so the next Campaign for Real Booty will be posted next Friday, 7/11. Happy 4th, all!


girlon8wheels said...

I was at a meeting myself last night (our monthly league meeting). I'm the league secretary, so I go to a good majority of the meetings the league holds. Yippee yippee joy joy, lol.

Either way, you're absolutely right, roller derby is a business first and foremost. When you have a large group of people together, it's natural that there will be leadership issues, internal conflict, and so forth. I think people get so caught up in their personal feelings, that they forget that the league needs to come first, no matter what. If there isn't a league, then there aren't teams, skaters, refs, etc.

I saw a derby t-shirt I saw, and I think I'm going to buy it and wear it to practice sometime. "Shut up and skate". Maybe people will get the hint, haha.

girlon8wheels said...

Gah, that was supposed to be "There's a derby t-shirt I saw..". Damn brain is giving up on me.

pixie rocket said...

i totally agree with you, and am relieved that it went as well as it did.