Thursday, January 24, 2013

I Need Roller Derby

I’m what you might call something of a resistor. While I’m a guy who loves the idea of changing things up, of mixing it up, I’m also the guy who’ll play devil’s advocate, asking tons of questions and challenging the “why” behind decisions.

And why? I really don’t know.

Some of it comes down to the idea that I like to be a critical thinker, to sort of examine all the sides of an idea before I make a conclusion. And a lot of times people don’t seem to do that before tossing an idea out there and the devil’s advocate strategy not only helps me to think but hopefully them as well. Plus, I, like everyone, can just be a knucklehead sometimes.

Yet, sometimes, that idea of resisting change, of turning my nose up at new things, even with the irony of liking them, backfires at me. While some things I’ll easily embrace, others take a while, if they’re ever able to break through the walls. I could give tons of examples, whether it be my resistance of Thai food before finally giving in and loving it to stepping in front of a crowd and speaking. Or writing. Or riding around on roller skates.

Each and every time has found me breaking through my little barrier, pushing myself, and seeing the rainbow on the other side.

I really don’t understand quite why I resist but I think the majority of it comes down to simple insecurity. I, like most of us, am not a fan of looking stupid, awkward, uncertain, or whatever. Frankly, I was raised in a family culture that I wrestled with constantly; my Dad, who set the tone and example for me, is a man’s man. Able to fix things with his eyes closed, throw a solid spiral, fish, and more.

Me? Well, I can fish, and by that I mean put bait on a hook and toss it in the water. I cannot fix anything; in fact, my greatest household fix-ups have included simply unscrewing and screwing things back on. To me, that’s been a huge accomplishment! And sports, well, while I can play football, my interests tended more toward sports like volleyball, tennis, and now, roller derby.

Yeah, it’s not quite a line from “A Country Boy Can Survive.”

But it’s not all on my father. Some of it is just me, just feeling uncertain and insecure about some different things, and usually about things that are inconsequential.

Which brings me to roller derby. About time, right?

Because, let’s be honest, for this occasionally insecure guy, roller derby has been one huge leap outside of my comfort zone.

Before a few months ago, I couldn’t skate. So imagine my joy as I arrived at the rink and donned skates for my first practice, trying hard to keep the mood light while within I’m pretty sure I was shaking like a leaf. But were my fears confirmed?

Actually, no. Sure, I might have suffered an injury and yes, the road has been uphill and at times it feels as though the Fates are telling me to “Go back! Go back!” yet, despite pain and flu and car woes, I’ve seen improvement. I, who could not skate, now can. Not well, mind you, but I can do better than a beginner. I’ve jumped on skates and landed it. Hey, I’ve even participated in a jam or two; granted, the vets were taking it beyond easy on us and we were traveling at negative 5 mph but I did it.

And before that, I couldn’t have said that.

Thus far, derby’s been challenging and, if I’m honest, very rewarding. The past week or so of missing practices (to continue again tonight as the car is still in the shop!) have reminded me of how rewarding it really is. I sort of miss heading out there and being challenged. Yes, it’s scary as hell sometimes and I really don’t want to look like an ass any more than I already do but something about it keeps calling me back.

Granted, the insecurities are still there, even as just trying to play derby, or learn how to skate so I can then learn to play, has opened up opportunities for me to use my other gifts, namely that of writing, in some other avenues. And that’s daunting in and of itself because, unlike this little venture, it’s not for me but rather for a large collective of people who’ll count on it.

But, when the dust settles at the end of each week, I find myself a little more thankful for roller derby and the really great people and opportunities I’ve found through it.

Maybe, just maybe, roller derby is just what I needed.


  1. Fall Risk, those insecurities you mention, well, I get it. I started derby right after Thanksgiving 2007 (off-season). This puts me into my SIXTH full season with the Bombers (three seasons playing, two reffing, and now heading into another season of reffing), my third season with the Derby Brats (founded summer 2010 for anyone interested), and now also with the Hit Crew since its founding last year. So why list these tenures? BECAUSE TO THIS VERY DAY I STILL FEEL INSECURE ABOUT MY ABILITIES AS A SKATER! I don't think that ever goes away. Even when I'm out there doing drills with the team or coaching or training I still second guess myself...because no matter how long you've been skating, I think you still doubt your abilities. Some people like to prey on that too. Don't let them. There's always something new to learn. My best piece of advice though is to make it about your own personal progression in the sport. Don't compare yourself to others. Celebrate those personal victories. :) -ProseHack

  2. I appreciate that advice and encouragement. I seem to remember that when I outlined this little project, alongside it's journey, that you shared that it'd be interesting to see if derby moved from being just a family thing to really something I could take ownership of. I'm not quite there but I certainly feel it moving that way, especially with some of the other opportunities that derby is affording me, allowing me to tap my other gifts as well.

    And the comparison thing is one that will be a constant battle. It's always difficult to step out and initially know that, well, you're pretty much gonna be the worst out there for a while. But you're right, putting the emphasis on personal goals and victories is definitely where I'm learning to grow. And hopefully, one day, I'll be able to share that advice with someone else on their way up the ladder...