Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Grow the Game

Photo Credit: Joshua DeSario
Obviously, I’m a parent. Otherwise, this little blog would have a far more creative name and probably not include the word “Dad” in in as well. But I am and I’m pretty happy with that fact because I’ve blessed with pretty awesome kids.

And throughout the course of writing this, I’ve shared how my children, and my son in particular, have been great sources of inspiration for me in my derby journey. They’ve already set the bar high for me with their adolescent skating skills, learning in ten and six years, respectively, what I have yet to learn in thirty-six, although I’m trying. And while they’ve both taken to this sport and enjoy it, I’ve really wanted to see my son take it to the next level and move from the zebra stripes to laying it all out on the floor.
So, I did what felt right and tried my best to teach him by leading by example.

Now, I’m a long way from getting there but I feel like I’ve already taken some pretty big steps in the right direction. And he’s starting to warm to the idea, slowly but surely, about trying his own hand at stepping out there and rocking it on the track as a player. And while he warms to it, I’m doing my best to support him, to be there when it’s his time, showing off his killer skills as a ref and reminding him of his keen potential as a player.
And Dad is proud. Frankly, I’m proud either way. He’s a great kid, as is my little Pop Tart who’s a superstar in her own right.

Photo Credit: Joshua DeSario
But, at a recent juniors’ bout, there was one thing I noticed and that was a lack of support from the overall derby community as a whole. Yes, there were some of us there who were parents and such as well as those who had volunteered to give of their time to help with reffing and NSO duties but, with but a few exceptions, the bigs were nowhere to be seen.

To some degree, I understand. If you don’t have kids, the last thing you want to do on a Saturday morning, most likely one of the few mornings you have to sleep in, is get up and go watch a bunch of kids who you probably don’t even know. And granted, some of us aren’t even “kid people,” and just don’t understand them. I get that; I really do.

But, the other part of me reflects back upon what we ask of these very same kids and their families. Because, like it or not Charles Barkley, these kids are looking up to us. (You’ll forgive me if I include myself in this derby category even if I’m not quite there; I’m trying!) We do our best to market ourselves to these families, seeking their attendance at our bouts, yet, for the most part, we do little to support theirs.
I don’t know; it seems like there’s something of a disconnect to me. Something slightly askew.

Perhaps part of it is just part of my upbringing. I’ve always been one to want to help others to grow and to succeed. I’m also someone who wants to help with those things that I find value in. When I played volleyball competitively, I was passionate about helping those around me to grow in their game because it not only helped them to become better but also because it made me a better player and person as well.
And ultimately, it helped the game in the long run.

Photo Credit: Joshua DeSario
Because, the higher level play that spectators see, the better that it gets. And, while roller derby is definitely gaining a lot of steam in our generation, generating more and more press and getting out there more and more, the next generation, the future of derby, is the one skating juniors in your local rink right now.
So, I don’t know about you but I’m growing to love this game and want to see it grow. And the best way for me to do that outside of working on my own game, which I’m doing to the best of my ability, is to do what I can to support and nurture the next generation of players. For now, that’s simply by being there and cheering from the sidelines; as I grow in my knowledge and skill of the game, it’ll progress to more.

I know what encouragement I’ve experienced when players that I look up to and respect have taken a few moments to offer a word of encouragement or of advice; think what that would mean to those younger and even more impressionable? And think of the players they’ll become if we can impart what we know now to them; it paints a bright future.
Grow the game.

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