Saturday, January 28, 2012

Derby Crushes

Just in time for Greensboro Roller Derby's Lonely Hearts club bout... we're going to talk about DERBY CRUSHES!

When you skate derby, you hear it all the time...”I have such a crush on [insert awesome skater's name here]!" The awesome skater could be Bonnie Thunders, Suzy Hotrod, Kelley Young, Beyonslay, Smack Daddy... the list goes on and on. These girls ARE amazing, and I wouldn't kick any of 'em outta my... bench.

But lovin' the stars is a given. They set the bar, rock the house, blow our minds with their phenomenal talent. I get that. Sometimes, I watch YouTube clips of Bonnie Thunders for hours and take notes. Her moves make me have to wipe drool off my chin. I danced in my apartment for ten minutes when she requested my friendship on Facebook (stalkin' paid off!). To me, she is Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps, Venus AND Serena Williams. She is the best of the best of the best sport.

But when I thought about what a derby crush really is, I realized I have derby crushes on girls I skate with every single day, women I play against during inter-league bouts, girls I regularly whiskey slap. I am so lucky that I am surrounded by skaters who challenge me, frustrate me, and cause me internal injuries.

I posed this question to my league crushes and also asked my fellow league mates to spill their secret: who makes your heart leap on the flat track?

The answers made me fall in love with my league all over again. It was like that dream trip in Paris with your partner that you already love, that reminds you while you fell for them in the first place.

Although I am not going to reveal everything I learned about who crushes on who in our league (since some of it was told to me in confidence), I do recommend sharing with your crush your feelings. They will make her day and make her a better skater. She won't wanna let you down!

Here are a few of my own derby crushes:

To start, I have a confession. I love a truck drivin', foul mouthed shorty named Ka$h Honey. She busted into our league like a bat outta hell, and went from “Fresh Meat” to starting jammer in T minus ten seconds. My crush started when she first made the team, when I first heard her tell me what to do. I loved her confidence, her take-no-crap attitude, her hatred of slow derby. Ever since then, she has sealed my love for her by continuing to play by the same motto as I do: “GO BIG OR GO HOME”.

Ka$h Honey

Like many girls on the league, I have a crush on General Sew for more than just her skating ability. But, it is her skating that makes my heart leap (and those red sequin shorts). I love watching her lap other skaters, seeing her go so fast the wind blows through the back of her jersey. I love how humble she is, how calm, how she can turn literally ANYTHING into derby shorts. General Sew is the glue that holds our league together, the voice that makes us know everything will be okay-unless, of course, she is coming for yah hips.

General Sew

Sigh. AlaBAMison. Our very own home town version of Bonnie Thunders. BAM is one of those skaters that earned her stay, played for keeps, fought her way to the top, made people notice that SHE WAS HERE. BAM is a crush of mine because you think you got her- oh, you think you got her so hard, and then: BAM, she is already through the pack, smilin' that she just tricked you (again). BAM skates so effortlessly, so fearlessly, and still manages to stay classy and adorable at the same time. She is a rarity. She is GSORD.


One of the things that makes me LOVE local derby crushes is that you get to ask them questions like: What makes you so awesome? So, in an effort to “humanize” my derby heartthrobs, here are their actual answers, after much prying:

Cus I got Skills, Thrills and Dolla Bills! Sike just playin – I’m awesome because I push myself - sometimes it can be my downfall because I push too far but I love motivating people and how can I help my team push to be better if I don’t better myself.” -Ka$H Honey (derby crush: Minimum Bruise)

Well thanks for thinking so, but often times I am pretty hard on myself...The one awesome thing that derby has taught me though is that if someone tells you can't or shouldn't do something then prove them wrong.  Who says you can't play roller derby? Who says you can't pass assessments after skating for only two months or that you can't be on the A-team?  Who says you can't skate in a bout, and then compete in a sprint triathlon the next day after driving four hours and getting three hours of sleep? Which by the way is a really bad idea!! You can do anything you set your mind and heart to. You can amaze yourself with what you can accomplish if your really believe you can do it.  If you want something bad enough you'll do what it takes to get to your goal.” -AlaBAMison (derby crush: Betty Rumble)

I got to this level of skating from a combination of hard work, cross training, and genetics, and dumb luck. I was a skating rink rat in the late 70's and early 80's. My parents dated at the skating rink, and I spent a lot of time skating. Although I took speed skating lessons when I was 7 and artistic skating when I was 8, I was never really good at it, but it did give me a sense of comfort with having skates on my feet (and I'm pretty good at Galaga from all that time spent at the skating rink too!) I'm doing some running and I teach yoga, and I try to stay active, and make it to almost every single practice, but I'd better kick it up a couple of notches because there are some awesome and ambitious folks out there. My biggest piece of advice for other skaters out there is to come to practice (as often as possible), give it 100% all the time, and pair up with the biggest, hardest hitting girl out there. Watch how they move their feet, watch where their strength comes from when they hit, and watch how they absorb or counter a hit. Also, read those rules. To me, they're like poetry, and they make more sense, once I've got some personal application for them.” -General Sew (derby crushes: Molly Flogger, Schoolya Childs, Smackson Pollock, Pickle Joose, Ka$h Honey, AlaBAMison, Minimum Bruise, Snarl Young, and Miller Lightnin' [thanks General!])

So you see, derby crushes can be the very same women you see everyday. They are your resources for improvement. That extra push when you think you can't push anymore.

So go ahead ladies, tell your crush why you love her. You never know...she might just feel the same way.

In love and derby always,

Miller Lightnin'

PS: Because GSORD fans love to think we hate each other, I did not mention my favorite person to hit and be hit by: Smackson Pollock-you complete me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Men's Roller Derby: Oh My!

I am so excited that men's roller derby leagues are becoming a conversation in the world of derby. The more people that play roller derby, the better. I truly believe in roller derby world domination, and that the benefits of playing the sport can positively influence all people.

Full disclosure, though: men's roller derby brings out the skeptical feminist in me. I am slightly wary of a potential take over. Roller derby was male-dominated at times during its long history, but the modern incarnation of it has been all about female empowerment. Roller derby is the one place in my life where I am not treated as a second class citizen because of my gender. Roller derby empowers my female force, has increased my sisterhood, and has freed me from the burden of self-body hatred.

When roller derby began in the 20s, it was played by men. Female skaters were added to the sport later as a way to sell tickets. No one could have guessed then how roller derby would evolve into the feminist movement it is today.

Modern roller derby is not just a sport, it is a feminist movement.

I need the men who are creating leagues for themselves to say that out loud. To believe it. Do they truly know the world they are entering? Are they entering it with the full knowledge of their male privilege? Do they know that to women who skate, this means a whole lot more than just hitting one another and wearing cute outfits?

Are these male leagues prepared to embrace and make room in the sport for male-to-female transgender skaters? Do they truly know what a sport created for, by, and with all women means to us? As women?

I say yes. But then again, I am a hopeful, trusting, heart on her sleeve feminist who truly wants a massive social change in terms of gender and sexuality equality. This is what I bleed for.

I am in full support of men's roller derby leagues, and look forward to witnessing my first male derby bout in the upcoming season. All I ask is for these leagues to mention the elephant in the room-the big, giant feminist elephant in the room that is just double checking your intentions.

Sorry guys, thousands of years of sexism and lack of equal treatment will do that to people.

Lookin' forward to seeing you on the flat track, gentlemen.


Miller Lightnin'  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, More Derby

Ah, the New Year.  A time to reflect on the previous one and plan or make resolutions for the new one.  I myself don't like to look back too much.  I like to be in the now.  However, I'm proud when I look back at 2011 and see how far I've come as a skater.  The fact that I even refer to myself as a "skater" is a big accomplishment in itself.  I'm able to say that I'm much more confident with wheels strapped to my feet.

I'm not big on resolutions, either.  I feel like it's too easy to dump on yourself and give up if you have a slip up.  Not only that, but I prefer to keep the momentum going in the areas I've improved on in the last year and make them even better.  Setting new goals for myself is something I do throughout the year, so I don't feel the need to make them a resolution.  This year, though, I've decided that I will have a theme: Make it happen.  BAM!  Pretty simple, huh?  Well, not really.  They're definitely not magic words, though, I wish they were.  This outlook couldn't come at a better time as our fresh meat assessments are zooming towards us.  So, at the end of this month, I'm going to make it happen.  I want to pass these assessments, so that's exactly what I'm going to do.  There is no debating with myself, no excuses, no "well, I guess I'll see how it goes."  MAKE. IT. HAPPEN.  Once I do that, I'll set the next goal and same thing; make it happen.  See the pattern? 

So what does that require?  Well, obviously, I have to practice as often as possible.  I need to fine tune the skills I find more difficult and make better the skills I can do more easily.  I want to execute them with confidence and better than just enough to pass.  Truthfully, it will probably take longer than the time I have before assessments and I hope I'm never as good as I can get.  I want to always seek to improve my skills.  I think everyone should want that.

The trick for me is the mental blockages.  I do it to myself every time.  Things I know how to do, I will some how mess up because I am being watched.  I guess it's like stage fright.  I know I can do it but because people are paying attention to me doing it, I start second guessing myself.  It's silly, I know, but I can't help it.  In my journey to make it happen, I have to do what it takes to achieve my goals, even if it's completely against my nature.

This is how I'm going to approach all of my goals in every aspect of my life.  I hope everyone has a year full of goals achieved, dreams realized, and most of all, more derby!  Make it happen, friends.

Derby <3
Katie Overstreet