Thursday, April 16, 2009

From Shit to Gold

Do you ever have those days (or weeks) where everything you seem to do goes wrong? Everything you touch turns to shit, and the more frustrated you get at your own ineptitude, the more you fuck up? That was last week for me.

Derby means so much to me now that it’s honestly hard to think back about something – anything – I cared as much about as I care about derby and my own performance in the sport. Add on trying to find a situation where that “something” was compromised by bad luck or a crappy time period, and it’s almost downright impossible. Since you now know my typical method of blog entry writing, I’ll leave this paragraph at that today, call my inability to relate this to anything else (yet still write something interesting) a draw, and just move on :)

After last week, what felt like the shittiest week in derby history since the last time I thought I had the shittiest derby week possible, I’ve been trying exceptionally hard to bring myself out of my self-loathing I’m-a-bad-player-and-should-be-embarrassed-to-be-alive funk. I think my performance at scrimmage practice last night gave me the lift that I needed so very much.

After the usual derby-dread while getting ready for practice, I rolled up to nothing short of a miracle. Call it the best beginning to a practice ever, call it a reversal in the black-hole of suck that has been the way I feel about myself lately, but whatever you call it, call it abso-fucking-loutely wonderful. As we’re all standing around unpacking our skate bags, I instantly become the focus of attention, which I’m not that used to. Thereafter, nothing short of a 10-minute conversation about how good my hair looked and how thin I looked – shit, what more can a girl ask for? I know I talk about and support big-girl pride on here, but no matter your size you know it feels good to get honest compliments about having lost a few pounds. If nothing else, it makes it way easier to skate in those tight booty shorts you wore to practice that night.

Following the flattery (which will get you everywhere), we warmed up for 45 minutes with some endurance drills and then began scrimmaging, first with our home teams and then with the All Stars. My good night quickly hit a wall when I kept forgetting to pay attention in the blocking snake drill. I just wasn’t looking behind me, and I kept getting leveled because I was off in good-hair and weight-loss lala land. That wasn’t really the root of my inability to focus, but it ties things in nicely, don’t you think? I really don’t know why I was so out of it, but I was, and that scared me, because I really didn’t want to have a bad night scrimmaging. Luckily, I didn’t.

Standing on the sidelines making rosters I told my team I was willing to jam more than once in a rotation, and as soon as that came out of my mouth I wondered who said it. Oh, it was me. Ok, I can do this – just calm down…

In my first attempt at jamming for the night, I jammed with my home team, Speed Regime, against our B-team, Female Trouble. Standing on that line, I had to remind myself not to go at the first whistle but the second. My stance was weird, but before I had time to adjust the second whistle blew. Here we go, I thought, took a deep breath, and didn’t even vie for lead jammer. I went at a quick pace, but I didn’t go balls out, because I know it’s more important for me to get through the pack so I can continue skating that jam than it is for me to mow over an opposing player, instantly get a major, and get sent to the box.

The strategy paid off and I got lead jammer anyhow. In a weird twist of fate, the opposing jammer immediately got sent to the box, so I went unopposed for a whole minute – YES! After making it through the pack clean three times, the other jammer came out of the box, I was having a hard time getting through the lead blocker, and I called it before any opposing points could be scored. What I didn’t remember at the time was that this would have still been the other jammer’s 1st pass through the pack, so I should have waited it out a bit longer, dug deep, and hustled. Eh, that’s why they call it practice, right? I ended that jam 12-0. I’ve never scored more than 3 points jamming, and I don’t usually even make it through my first pass. It was awesome!

I blocked more that night, pivoting for both Speed Regime and the All Stars. I’m a pretty good pivot, and I learned pivot strategy when I was a bigger and less buff rollergirl than I am now. Let’s just say I know exactly how to exploit a 20-foot call when the opportunity arises. Born from sheer exhaustion and laziness, that strategy is now part of a good arsenal of weapons I have developed as a skater. Many more fit girls can’t pivot. Hell, throw on a vest with 40lbs of weight and see what you’re inclined to do when you’re tired and know the rules.

I ended the night jamming for the All Stars, but sadly just as soon as I got lead jammer the jam got called for an injury on the track. It’s all good. I got lead motherfucking jammer, and I’m happy to end the night on that note!

I was thinking about why I’ve never really tried to jam before this season while in the car on the way to work this morning. First and foremost, I never had the desire. I would gasp for air just completing a full 2-minute jam. Second, I was never encouraged to try it. I thought more about that. Was it wrong that no one had ever suggested jammer as a position to me before or tried to help me learn that position? Or, was the subject never approached because everything about me said I was so against it? And why was I so against it? Had I inadvertently bought into the “because I’m big, I have to be a blocker” mentality? Or was I just too scared to try?

Whatever the reason(s), I can surely learn from them once I identify them, but the important thing for me is living in the moment – living in the “now” that I have decided jamming is something I want to try. For the last 4+ years I’ve only ever heard jammers complain about jamming, about not wanting to do it. All jammers except for my wife, Flo Shizzle, that is. She’s of the mentality that, “Shit, I’m in my 40s! I’m just happy to BE playing roller derby. Knock me down, I don’t give a shit! I’m happy to be here!” I know the excitement I’m feeling in regards to jamming right now won’t last forever, so I’m going to take advantage of it while I still have it, and I’m going to try and emulate Flo’s perspective, because really, I am happy just to be here.

Now, if only I can keep the “happy to be here” mood going… It’s hard getting into those cycles where everything you touch is shit, but I guess the important thing I realized yesterday is to keep going and eventually your luck will turn – your touch of shit will eventually become the Midis touch, and when you have the Midis touch, take advantage of it!

1 comment:

Midlife Crashes said...

one of the best things our league has ever done, IMHO, is to run scrimmages where everyone takes a turn at every position. you work your way from pivot to bumper, sit out, jam, sit out, and then re-start.

that one strategy has helped SO many skaters become better blockers, and identified skills that skaters themselves couldn't see. it's amazing.

LOVE Flo's attitude! I need to remember that when my competitive side beats me up for sucking or the politics piss me off. "I'm 42--you all SHOULD be able to skate better than me, and I'm too old to get tangled up in your BS!"