Monday, December 10, 2012

Taking Some Veteran Advice

“How bad do you want it?”

Those were some of the words of wisdom I received from a fellow player who I’d reached out to the day before for just that, wisdom and encouragement.

Let’s be honest, if you’ve read any of the more recent postings on Derby Dad, you know that I’ve not been in the most positive frame of mind recently. And while some of that stems from other aspects of this roller coaster I currently call “life,” much of what bled out onto these virtual pages was derby related.

And let me be the first to apologize for being such a downer.

Yet, I won’t apologize for being honest and honest is what I was when I hit up the HitMen’s Stalker Texas Stranger on Facebook and asked for some much needed advice.

Ever since starting, Stalker had been held up to me as someone to look to and draw encouragement, he himself having started skating, let alone playing derby, for just about a year. He, like me, started from the bottom, with no ability to skate and the keen desire to make it happen.

So, hoping that he’d encountered similar issues as I was having, I hit him up and asked him how he got over the hump. In true awesome person fashion he was right back with me and we were making plans to chat over a burger before realizing that we’d both be at a big scrimmage being held the next day, he playing and me watching friends and family.  We decided to talk there.

And it was just what I needed. I’ve reflected quite a bit about just why it is that I’ve been so down on myself and the reasons are many. In part, I’m mad about where I’ve let my body get to, how out of shape I’ve become from where I once used to be. I’m frustrated that I watch just about everyone out there, my kids included, take to skates like ducks on water and, for me, just standing still on skates is literally work. And, as one who’s taken to other sports far more easily, I hate the fact that two times around the track finds me still unsteady and feeling just how out of shape I really am, my core muscles making themselves known and my lower back burning.

Stalker shared that he’d endured much of the same. Starting at an older age than I yet with the determination to do it, he too found himself quickly discouraged, feeling the frustration.

So how’d he overcome it?

“I just told myself that I wasn’t going to give up,” he shared. “I had to admit to myself that I was going to be the worst one out there for a while and just live with it. But I knew that if I stuck with it, I wouldn’t always be the worst one; I mean, there’s got to be one out there anyway, right?”

He also shared that he had no desire to let anything defeat him, no matter what. And in the same breath, he reminded me to not worry about comparing myself to others.

“It’s not fair to compare yourself to all of these guys out here because we’ve all got different stories; some have been rink rats all their lives, some jam skaters, and others are just like us, just getting into it…and these guys that are improving so quickly, they’ve got the time and are making the dedication to make that happen. They might have the time to skate every day or to do this and that; they might not have the time constraints or kids or whatever it might be.”

“What it comes down to is how bad do you want it?”

And that’s been one of my biggest hurdles, comparisons. It’s especially been tough with my family being so involved as well, watching my wife, my son, and my daughter do so well and then to struggle so mightily myself, not to mention all of the other friends we’ve made out on the track. And knowing that I’m only able to do a certain amount, because of time, because of other commitments like work and so forth, creates a frustration and almost a jealousy inside of me at points but, if I’m willing to realize that it’ll come with time, I might be a slightly happier person.

Later that evening, many of these same thoughts would be echoed by Guinness and Sgt. Airborne as our families spent some time together.

“You’ve got to make sure that you’re having fun,” Guinness reminded me. “We were all there at some point and you’ve got to realize that you won’t always be at the same point as some of these skaters. But even then, you’ll surprise yourself at how far you can go if you just work at it and keep a smile on your face.”

See, these are some of the things about derby that draw me to it, people who are willing to step forward and offer up encouragement. They’re not the only one’s who’ve stepped forward with such words on this journey, as ProseHack, Malice, and many others have but, this past weekend, these words hit home and resonated.

So tonight, barring any bizarre circumstances, I’ll be at practice, wobbly but learning, and will try to do my best, hopefully doing it all with a good sense of humor.

And who knows? Maybe one day I’ll get that Facebook message asking me for advice about how I got over the hump.

But in the meantime, I’m keeping the lines of communication open with these guys because I can use all the encouragement I can get.


  1. Get your ass to practice and let Trouble and Wil Power smack you around a bit. That's the best advice I can give you right now.

    1. It's good advice (and please know that the encouragement you've given up to this point has been invaluable and needed) and is some that I plan on taking today for sure. I'll see you there...