Photo by James Korn
When last we talked about that roller derby thing, I was expressing some dissatisfaction about how my journey was going. I received a lot of great support after sharing that particular blog post. There are only two comments on it, but I also received several in private. The most common theme was, “this is completely normal” and “you’re not alone.” Since “roller derby disillusionment” is one of the top search terms that now sends people to this blog, I’d say “you are not alone” is definitely an accurate assessment of the situation.
The thing is, roller derby tends to be something that you pour your whole self into. When you first start playing, it’s this new shiny thing that you hold up on a pedestal. Everything about it is so exciting and amazing… you’re learning so much about your abilities and discovering that you are capable of so much more than you ever dreamed! And then, things start to crack around the edges. Maybe it’s the first time that a brand new skater comes in that was practically born on skates and whizzes past you while performing a skill that you’ve worked on for months, but still don’t quite have down. Maybe it’s the first time someone gets the spot on the roster you thought you should have had. Maybe it’s the first time you get wind of some interpersonal drama that you were previously oblivious to. Whatever it is, the crack appears, and it spreads into your line of vision. Eventually, it becomes all you can see if you let it. You start to wonder why you bother, and if the trouble is worth everything that you put into it.
For me, I was frustrated, but I knew I wasn’t ready to give it up. I haven’t gotten everything I want out of roller derby yet. As in life, you can only change that which is in your control. But really, just deciding that I wasn’t going anywhere made the biggest difference. It meant returning to working hard instead of just kind of going through the motions because I didn’t know why I should bother anymore. I contacted the coach that I’d spent the most time working with and asked for feedback on how I was playing and what I could work on. He spent a day or so thinking about it, and sent me back a response. Nothing on it surprised me, and adding it to a few things I had on my own, I had a list of things to focus on. I wrote it on a post-it note, and left it by my computer where I would see it often.
After that, I set up a meeting with the team coach and captain that were setting the rosters to find out why they were choosing not to roster me. I can’t say that it was my most favorite meeting ever, and I can’t say that I agreed with all of their reasoning or everything they had to say. But at the same time, I couldn’t necessarily disagree with it either. As they say, perception is reality, so whether I agreed or not, at least I had something fairly concrete to work on. I’ve put my head down and kept working, and gradually things have improved. They certainly aren’t perfect… one of my closest friends on the league is in the same spot now that I was in when I accused roller derby of being a bad boyfriend in January, and that breaks my heart just as much as when I was there.
After all these conversations, and shift in my focus, I did finally make a roster. Yay! In April, we had a rematch with Lafayette, and we won! I got to play in 8 whole jams. It felt really good… and I didn’t go out there and suck it up either, haha! There were some really great moments like where I swept sideways on turn 4, and removed two blockers that had been pestering my jammer. Or pushed their jammer out of bounds behind the pack on turn 1. I got a lot of great feedback from the coaches and my team that night… though I didn’t know whether to be grateful they noticed, or a little offended that they seemed so surprised. We have two bouts remaining in our first season, and I’m happy to report that I’ve been rostered for both of them!
The roster is great, but honestly the main difference between now and January is that I know what I want, I have goals for the off-season and next season, and I decided that I’m not going to let any frustrations prevent me from going after what I want.