Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Don't drink the Haterade!

Seriously. Put it down, forget it exists. And here's why:

This will surprise no one: roller derby is diverse. There are almost as many kinds of derby leagues as there are derby skaters. Some leagues love epic entrances, while others prefer to let their skating speak for itself. Some leagues use their given names only, while others revel in the opportunity to create an alter-ego. Some leagues like to get rock star wild at after parties, while others like to just chill and talk about the bout. Some leagues like to engage in tension-deflating play on the jammer line before the first whistle, while others completely stonewall their opposition. A few teams focus all their efforts on community building, while others work their tails off to play derby by a traditional sports mindset. Who among us really is perfect enough to say their way is the only way?

Every single derby league is unique in its own right, with its own set of skaters and supporters. Each league has the space to create their own traditions, training schedules, strategies, playing style, uniforms, and opportunities.

That is why this sport RULES.

When I hear of leagues splitting apart, or overhear a teammate or fellow skater hatin' on another skater or league, my heart breaks a little; especially because it reminds me of how much time I have wasted hatin' on chicks I don't know (especially when I could be using this time to be improving my skating technique). Roller derby is a middle finger to the patriarchal machine that is collegiate and professional sports. We were created by and for women. We embrace women on the full spectrum and are a LBGTQ safe haven that highly encourages participants to not only be themselves but to WAVE THEIR FREAK FLAG HIGH.

Seriously, wave that flag!

This is my rally call skaters. Stop gossiping in the middle school bathroom because the other team doesn't do things the way your team does things. Assume the best, because after all, they play roller derby too. Doesn't that kind of guarantee they are awesome?

The world can be a cruel and horrible place, full of heartache, disease, and oppression. Roller derby is the one place women can go and be themselves--any version of it they please. So lets stop the girl on girl crime RIGHT NOW. Lets start rallying behind other leagues because we need each other, build from each other, and can learn from one other. You can not improve or grow as a person if you only surround yourself with people that are just like you, so embrace the variety of derby women with open arms. We are all the better for it.

Say it will me sisters:


In love and derby forever and always,

Miller Lightnin'  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


My nickname on the flat track is “EnSusiasm”. I love it! I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT!

My coach, Colonel Heavage, came up with it after a particularly grueling practice where I remained optimistic and kept yelling “My name is Miller Lightnin' and I love roller derby!” The mantra and nickname stuck, and for two years running I have earned the great honor of being given our league's spirit award. 

Seeing a glass half full (or a flat track half full, if you will) has been my lifestyle for as long as I can remember. I was raised by two amazing parents, who managed to keep my two brothers and me out of jail  (for the most part), healthy, and happy our entire lives. We all speak several times a day and actually choose to spend time with one another. Dinner with my family around the table, usually after several beers, turns into a roast of one another and an exchange of awesome stories about our adventures in our lives separate from family. My family has supported my derby endeavors and regularly tell me they are proud of me for the strength and skill I display on the flat track.

I am extremely lucky and grateful for these gifts EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. 

My other family, Greensboro Roller Derby, reminds me of the Williams. Supportive, funny, always up for a beer (or six). I chose this family, and they chose me. How could I not be enthusiastic at practice? I am literally encased by love in all directions. 

Recently, I was asked by a woman on my team how I stayed so positive. “Well,” I told her, “fake it till you make it.” I use to beat myself up after every practice, cry into my pillow “WHY THE HELL CAN'T I PLOW STOP ALREADY?!?!”, and dreaded scrimmage time for fear I would let my teammates down. Derby started to be stressful, instead of awesome. So I made a choice. I decided, to hell with it: I am going to just do me, y'all. 

The best way to stay positive and fulfilled by roller derby is to constantly challenge yourself, on your own level. Try to improve at every practice, with every drill. If you don't get it right the first time, do it until you get it right and then do it some more. Put your derby gear on and look in the mirror and say to yourself: “I am a goddess of the flat track and a supershero to little girls. I can and will be awesome at roller derby.” Really, I say that to myself all the time. Try it. 

Another thing that keeps me so excited about roller derby is that I see the potential for greatness on the flat track in EVERYONE. By everyone I literally mean everyone. Chick sitting next to me in class who rocks motorcycle boots everyday? Awesome pivot. Woman who sells me beer at the gas station? Dang, she would make a great wrecking ball. And then my league! Oh, my league, how I love thee. The recently drafted skaters make my heart swell like the Grinch. I watch them in drills and in my brain thinks “Crap! The student has become the teacher! I can't wait for them to knock me out someday!” (New skaters-I am not the only one who thinks this. Pat yourselves on the back. You are BLOWING OUR MINDS.) 

So, if roller derby has become a source of frustration for you and the flat track seems half empty-remind yourself why you started, do some pushups, and yell: “MY NAME IS -------- AND I LOVE ROLLER DERBY!” 

You won't regret it.

In love and derby, Miller Lightnin' aka EnSusiasm