When I first began roller derby I was disappointed when I found out there were rules. No fighting?! Really?! What was the point?!
I couldn't believe the structure that was required to participate in a derby league-especially one that I was helping found. Fundraisers, public relations, interviews, finding sponsors...and the rules! So many rules. Most notably: no drinking while skating.
I complained, moaned, eye rolled. I joined committees, yes-but always with the intention to find something, anything to complain about (and there was usually beer involved). I emailed board members with complaints, griped at practices, drank on skates. The only thing that I focused on was my love of derby, my passion for being a great skater.
One day-while on one of my many tyrants-my friend of ten years, Annie Lastwords, said, “Yah know Miller, you would be a lot more productive if you spent time taking action instead of complaining.”
Right on Annie. Right on.
Of course, I immediately took offense to this statement, thought she was being an uppity know it all (lawyers), but then I realized something: offense is taken, not given. I chose to be insulted by that comment, instead of seeing it as a friend saying in more or less words: “Shut up and help out with this league you love so much.”
So, gulp-Miller Lightnin' aka Hater of Authority aka Cammie Complains-A-Lot-joined the training committee by running for captain of my home team, the Elm St. Nightmares. Surprisingly, my fellow teammates elected me (side bar: I had ran before and not gotten elected, wonder if my buttheadness was related?) and entrusted me to fairly represent them on the committee that decides fates like practice itineraries, rules to enforce, skater policies to implement, rosters, etc. Captains, coaches, and trainers discuss skater concerns and sometimes have to make tough decisions to move the league forward that may not make everyone happy. Instead of always saying “damn the man”, I became the man.
So, this“middle finger to the world” kind of gal is now an “okay, I am not entirely sold on rules but am starting to see their intention” has some knowledge to drop.
Here is how to make the most out of your derby experience (no matter what your feelings about rules and regs are), with out making yourself crazy.
- Like I said before-offense is taken, not given. Still mad coach told you to work on your form? Really? Coach noticed you. If he/she did not care enough to say anything to you-that is when you have the right to worry cause no one is noticing you.
- Don't make your coach/captain/trainer tell you to do something twice. I cringe when I have to tell a skater on my home team to be quite when a coach is explaining a drill. It literally makes my skin crawl. Telling your peers to do something sucks. Please, don't make us ask you again-and respect that we asked you in the first place.
- If you are going to criticize something the league is doing-do not do it without some ideas to take its place. You are just being a jerk if you just criticize. Don't be a jerk-be a woman of action.
- When a coach explains a drill, ask questions if you need help. But never ever ask them to adjust the drill because you do not want to do it or think it is too hard. Also, keep your trap shut when coach is talking. You may not care enough to hear his words, but the skaters around you do.
- Don't take training committee decisions personally. As someone who has been guilty of this several times, I know how easy it can be. Now that I am on training committee, I see that each decision is made to move the league forward. Nothing is discussed without this intention: What is best for our league as a whole?
- If you are not put on a roster, do not get to play the position you want, or are not getting a lot of playing time-DO NOT CRY OR COMPLAIN ABOUT IT (I have done this-it gets you no where). Prove to yourself and the training committee that they can not afford to NOT put you in. Bust your fanny, honey, It will happen someday.
- Come to each practice with this in mind: “What can I do at this practice to be better than last practice?”
- Even if it hurts, you are expected to participate from 7-9pm each night of practice. Don't sit on the sidelines. There is a difference between “it hurts” and “I am hurt”. You are better than the sidelines. You play freakin' roller derby.
- If you are worried about how someone else is doing at practice, you are not worried about the person you should be-YOU. Practice is for you to improve. Use the time wisely, darlin-there ain't much of it.
- Your crappy day at work is not my crappy day at work. Please don't allow your mood to dictate the skaters around you-leave it at the door.
- Cross train. Duh. (No really, put some sneakers on and run. NOW.)
- Join a committee and help out. Go to the after party. Ask vets for help. Advertise for bouts. Thank a coach for their hard work. Ask a ref to explain some rules to you. Don't spread gossip about your teammates. Don't be a butthead.
After beginning in the basement of a bar, Greensboro Roller Derby is moving forward into the big time. We are becoming a sustainable league that the community counts on for grassroots support, entertainment, and girl power. Respect that to develop as a whole, we have to leave some old ways behind. We have to have...barf...rules.
No more drinking on skates. I pinkie swear.
So, I hope that helps. Basically, treat people like you want to be treated and recycle.