Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What Came First, The Player or The Team?

On Sunday we scrimmaged Philly, and I didn’t go. “The people playing Gotham need the time to practice together,” I told myself, “I’ll be riding the bench anyhow – I might as well stay home.” It was a bad decision, but one that I made at the time. I was feeling sorry for myself and not thinking clearly. Should I have gone? Definitively, YES. Even if I wasn’t placed in a single jam I should have been there to watch and learn and support my team.

I don’t know if it’s my general disdain for riding the bench or that in combination with a very stressful work environment at the given moment, but I’ve been allowing myself to feel a bit apathetic when it comes to “trying” to become one of the players on the all-star team who gets regular play time. Don’t get me wrong, I still very much want to be a player who actually plays in bouts, but it’s hard for me to just sit still when we’re scrimmaging other teams. If I don’t get the experience of working with my team, I won’t ever play, yet it’s the people who do play that get the continued experience of working with each other. What came first, the player or the team?

Patience may be a virtue, but it’s never been one of mine. I feel like I’m in this losing cycle where the only way I could ever jump in is if enough people got hurt or pregnant. I don’t want to become a regular player that way – I want to earn my way on by working well with my teammates, but if I hardly ever get a chance to play with them, how can I prove myself?

I’ve been thinking about this situation a lot lately, but it was only last night when I was reflecting on it again that I realized I’ve actually been on the ruling end of this type of situation. As a 2-year home-team co-captain, I once played a part in making the decision to give the vets more play time when playing opponents with whom we were more closely matched. Was it the right thing to do? I think so, but this is also coming from someone who helped found her league – someone who played in that very first game and has never been in the position of struggling to make her way onto a game roster. I’ve never done this before.

After two full days of beating myself up for missing the Philly scrimmage I went to practice as usual, but that night I surprised myself. Having thought and rethought about my riding the All Stars bench had gotten me kind of down, and I was feeling like I wasn’t really progressing as a player. I don’t know if it was because we were doing skills I already knew well or because there were just a lot of newer ladies at practice that night, but I felt – I really felt – like I kicked that practice’s ass. Almost two hours in we’re doing knee drags, and I’m popping back up like my legs are on springs – me sprinting out of each drag. I surprised myself by doing that, but even after the initial surprise I kept on doing it, and before long I realized that not only did I have a new pep in my step, but I also was going much faster than much of the group – something I’ve NEVER been known to do; I’ve always been the slowest girl out there (or at least that’s how I’ve thought about myself)!

Maybe it was karma that threw me a bone or maybe it was all in my head, but that single good practice has given me some hope that I can become good enough to stand out as someone who should be put on a game roster.

Tonight is our first home-team 09 season meeting, and I’m going to tell my team I want to jam. The way I figure it is that I need to open up enough avenues that may take me to my goal of All Star game play. As competition among leagues increases, everything’s harder, including the hits. Perhaps having a jammer that can take a hit and not fly out of bounds or fall down will be a benefit. This one’s a long shot, but it could pay off, and if it doesn’t, I’m still better for it.

I really don’t know what came first, the player or the team. Maybe it doesn’t really matter. I’ve learned hard lessons while struggling to find myself as an All Star, and this entry was especially hard to write because I feel like I’m really exposing myself here, and what I’m exposing is not always something to be proud of. Like everything else, though, sharing this with you makes me accountable for my actions. I want to be a better person, and I want to be a better player. I need to focus on the same things I said I needed to focus on a month ago: attend as many practices as possible, pair up with fellow All Stars during practice to establish a teamwork familiarity, and give it all I’ve got. That’s all I can really do – that and pray that I’ll become a better player and someone might notice.


Janelk said...

Thanks for this post! I totally understand where you're coming from. I'm there. Thanks for the extra motivation.

G. No-Evil said...

I love that you can learn more about yourself by putting the words down on paper as they say. One thing I have learned as a coach is making sure everyone knows they are important on our roster. Team chemistry is something every individual skater helps bring to the team. So work hard, play to win, but don't forget to have fun is the motto that has been used.

I don't know who came first but I know it takes a TEAM to be successful.

I love reading your blog.


Allie Gator said...

I can empathize with you completely! I am a big girl and last year because of low turnout at tryouts I got onto our all-star travel team. I was flabergasted because I didn't think I'd make it and then I had to step up and put in the effort. It was really hard and still is to this day. I'm not as fast as a lot of the other skaters on the all-star team, BUT being on the team, going to practices, pushing myself and my teammate's encouragement has given me a whole new confidence on the track. It has also made me a better player overall. I can point to the time I got onto the all-star team as the point when my skills took a bit jump upwards. I realize that I'm not the best skater on the all-star team, but I have strengths that others don't and I made the team for a reason.

Midlife Crashes said...

Don't give up! I almost did, last month, after being pulled from two of my only 4 jams in an all-star game. I got angry, I pouted, and then I realized I couldn't let myself or anyone else squash my hopes.

So I swallowed my pride, realized I wasn't as good as I thought, and asked for help. It may take more time for me to get off the bench than I want, but I will get there, and so will you.

Your blog is awesome!!