Thursday, May 28, 2009

I Think I Can: Carolina & Pushing On

As I stood on the rink last night awaiting instruction on what I’d have to do to re-tryout for the All Stars (we all must tryout each quarter), Dolly Rocket says to me, “So, what position do you wanna play?” I explained how the All Star captains decided to put me up front at either Pivot or what we call Blocker 2. I went on to explain that in the Carolina game, I played Blocker 2, but immediately following, I played Pivot with Female Trouble (our B team) against the Carolina Bootleggers. “This,” I said, “was perfect, because after playing B2, I got to play Pivot and immediately see what I wanted out of a B2.” And that was my biggest take away from the Carolina bout.

Prepping for Carolina, I did a lot of running the week beforehand, and although that prepared my endurance, nothing could have prepared me for the heat down south. After a minute of doing laps in full gear (just 1!), my head was fully drenched in sweat and I had already accidentally wiped all the eye makeup off my left eye. Carolina’s venue is a sauna, and I’m a happy lady that Eastern Regionals are in the fall instead of the spring or summer. It was so hot in there I was sweating someone else’s balls off.

Carolina was my first bout with the All Stars, and along with that came a lot of anxiety on my part. The biggest question in my mind leading up to the Carolina bout was the following: would I choke?

Choking is something I’ve done well ever since my dad passed away. I’d never had this problem before, but it was a pattern I’d come to recognize and had not yet broken. Would I choke? Would I get out there in a jam and be completely ineffective? Would I be so scared that I would fuck up that I would be paralyzed with fear? Would I be detrimental to our team?

The best I could do to prepare was to go over the scenarios of what I should be doing in what position and when and bond with my team. During the van ride to Carolina the day of the bout, convincing myself that I could break the cycle and not choke, I realized for the very first time that not only would this be my first All Star bout back, but this also would be my first bout since the double shoulder injuries over a year ago! Talk about pressure.

I guess I felt like I had been bouting all this time (okay, since January), because we scrimmage so much. I had never thought about this being my first bout back PERIOD before. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

Game time was near, and a mishap during structured warm-ups caused me to tweak my back – not the best way to go into a game. Taking a hard hit from (guess who) Joy Collision (because I swear I’m ALWAYS her punching bag in this one drill), I fell on a skate wheel on my lower back, causing an instant cramp at the location of the impact. All my good mojo quickly went south, and it took everything I had to complete the warm-up and not cry right there. The “you can do this” self talk turned into “what are you thinking – you can’t even make it through warm-ups!” Somehow I managed to pull myself together and get focused on the game in which I mainly played B2 (I may have played Pivot once or twice with Dolly or Holly in the box).

The first game where I’ve ever gotten positive feedback, I felt fairly ineffective, but this is becoming a very common problem of mine – I cannot accurately assess my own performance. AT ALL.

I came out of the Carolina game and went right into the doubleheader, playing Pivot almost every other jam against the Bootleggers (we beat Carolina in case you didn’t know). Holy, crap, was that hard! Female Trouble doesn’t really practice together, and we got slaughtered. With no real strategy, my B2 was almost always missing from where I wanted her to be, which taught me a very valuable lesson about what is needed out of a B2. What did I want from a B2? Well, after that game I thought about that long and hard and am now trying to be that person for my Pivot on the All Stars, which brings me back to last night’s re-try-out for the All Stars. I hate tests. Did I mention I hate tests?

Having caught a cold in Carolina, I’ve been fighting phleghm ever since. Last Saturday’s bout worked the gunk further into my lungs, and I spent most of my Memorial Day weekend in old sweatpants on the couch. Last night? Frequent trips to the rink door to expel the lung butter disturbed by all the heavy breathing. Then came assessments.

Coming off a high from last Saturday’s inaugural home bout (I had a 15+-point jam in my 1st jam of the night, despite DNN reports saying it was only 10), I felt like “the shit” while also feeling “like shit”, which resulted in what I thought was a horrible assessment performance. I wanted to cry afterwards, but I sucked it in (yeah, yeah, I cry a lot, so maybe I need to change the title of this blog). Again with the “unable to assess my own performance”, I felt terrible and I wouldn’t have put it past the captains and coaches to leave me off the next charter. Luckily, most of my problems seem to be lying in the fact that I cannot assess myself, not that I cannot skate, because I have successfully secured my spot on our roster for another quarter. Yay!

Today was a lunch full of stuffing my face with sushi and drawing out plays with packets of sugar and sweet-n-low with my derby nomalizer, Chairman Meow. Chairman helps me accurately put things in perspective. He’s my derby Mr. Katz. We went over some plays from last night and discussed our typical derby in general, which is what I needed after a night like last night.

Looking back (something Chairman recommended I do), I’ve accomplished a hell of a lot in the short time since I decided I’d try out for the All Star team – It hasn’t even been 4 months! I did what I said I was going to do: I pulled back from all outside “derby work” distractions, and I’ve allowed myself to be selfish for once and focus on me – my skills, my performance, my personal derby growth.

I said 4 months ago that I want to play at Nationals, and by god, I’m still working toward that goal every single day. It’s a vertical climb, it feels like (which is even harder for us big girls), but I’m gonna keep taking steps upward until I reach that top. I told Chairman that today, “I want to play at Nationals.” Which was immediately followed by, “And then I want to take a fucking vacation… The day after Nationals!”

Make no mistake, this shit is HARD, but the reward will be being able to play those top games with my teammates. It’s time to kick things into high gear (which I feel like I increase every other week). My mantra for the next month is run, run, run. I’ve never said something like this before on this blog, but if I could lose another 10 pounds, it would be a heck of a lot easier for me to compete. I’m not stressing about it, and I’m sure as hell not starving myself to get there (not with the bag full of Moon Pies I came back from Carolina with), but now is the time to “trim the fat” so to speak. Clean eating. Organic, nonprocessed foods. I need the best fuel I can get for my body, which is my instrument in derby. Eliminate stress. Stress wreaks havoc on anyone at anytime – I need to keep stress at bay so my body can function optimally. It’s zen all the way, baby. These things ain’t easy, but neither is being the newest team member playing in a bout against a top-5 team. If anyone can do it, I can. It’s full steam ahead! Toot! Toot!


Ivanna Shoverova said...

It's great to see you got your spot again!

DayGlo Divine said...

Worrying is what pushes us to strive and improve. You've done all three of those things. But if I may say so as a humble referee who watches your bouts and scrimmages like a hawk, I think you beat yourself up a lot more than you should. You've worked hard, and it's paid off, but you also need to enjoy the fruit of your labor in order to keep going through the rough patches where it feels like you're banging your head against a wall.