Perfectly Aged Meat

It’s been a challenging, interesting, whirlwind season for my league.  We faced many, many retirements, injuries, and leaves, all the while taking in our largest batch of fresh meat yet.  We lost some founding skaters, and hopefully, have found some of the skaters that will drive our future.

A whole bunch of TCRG fresh meat have recently graduated into full league skaters and we are now gearing up for the draft.  We have such an amazing bunch of girls coming up in this intake that this year’s draft may actually be a fight to the death (Stacie Jones, Fox Smoulder, you better be ready).  It’s an exciting time for all of the teams.

At the end of October, we had a double-header: Our new girls “The Tri-City Kitties”  v. Niagara Roller Girls’ Fresh Meat “The Niagara Puppies” and our WFTDA charter team, Thunder v. Queen City Roller Girls Lake-Effect Furies.

(photo courtesy of Joe Mac)

Both bouts were awesome.  You could just feel the excitement coming off the new girls as they lined up for their first bout.  It was infectious and the game was a pleasure to watch.  After a super close first half, the Kitties held Niagara scoreless for all of the second, managing to rack up a decent score, with a 85-15 final.  As a head of training for TCRG, it made my heart swell to see how great the Kitties did.  We had lost some key trainers over the season, and it was reassuring to know that our girls were still in good hands.

(photo courtesy of Joe Mac)

Thunder’s bout with the Furies was a rematch of a rematch.  Thunder won their first meeting in July of 2010 with a score of 72-51, lost a 179-153 heart-breaker almost exactly a year prior in October 2011, and came in with something to prove.  After losing some longtime Thunder vets, I think that Thunder wanted to prove, mostly to themselves, that they could come together and play the strongest game they had – win or lose.  They did just that and won, in a tooth-and-nail, blood-and-sweat 179-163 nail-biter.

After that, we had a mixed scrimmage season closer, which (I think) ended the season off right.  All of our home teams were so depleted that all coming together and playing a super-fun Team Frat Burger v. Team Retro Rocket Comics game was just what we needed.  There was much heckling, much silliness, and very much derby love.  (side note: Team Meat totally creamed Team Nerd) 

(photo courtesy of Joe Mac)

It’s been a while since I’ve felt the league this unified, everyone working hard towards the same goal, the excitement of the newer skaters not grating on the jaded veterans, but rather fueling them to fall back in love with whatever it is that keeps us all doing what we do.

It can be tough to restructure, to have a re-growth sort of year.  And that’s what I think we’re heading into.  Here a few different strategies for dealing with change:

1) Freak Out.  Resist Change.

Isolate the new skaters, make them feel awkward.  Hope they quit, so things go sort of back to how they were before.  Don’t talk to or partner with anyone new at practice.  Make sure that no one ever sits in your spot in the changeroom.  Make sure that everyone knows how pissed off you are about the changes that are happening.

2) Embrace Change.  All the Change.  Make Change Your New Everything.

Re-vote the Board, re-vote your captains, re-vote your team names, your by-laws and your practice structure.  Change it all.  Only ever work with skaters you don’t know.  Change your derby name.  And don’t get overwhelmed, because change is great and things will turn out awesome.  Outside of derby, this is when you decide to go from never training and eating whatever to Working Out Every Day, Only Eating Whole Foods, Sleeping 8 Hours A Night, and Drinking Gallons Of Water All The Time.  Sound familiar? (not saying those are bad or that you can’t do them all at once, but maybe small, sustainable changes are more realistic)

3) Be a Little Scared of the Change.  Deal With It.  Make Changes That Need to Happen.  Keep the Things That Are Working the Same.

Generally, it’s best pick this one (though sometimes we all find ourselves veering towards the other two).  Work with the new girls – be patient.  They haven’t been playing for years, they will make mistakes.  Try to build them up, rather than break them down – make them feel like they made a good choice coming to (and staying with) your league.  Integrate the new girls into roles that suit them and draw on their strengths.  Deal with your feelings about the changes – Do you need a break?  Do you need to mentor someone?  Do you need to focus on yourself?  Do you need to reach out to your team? Be honest about where you are at with derby and check in with yourself as things evolve.   Make the changes that you need to make to keep yourself in love with derby.

When I started playing, I thought derby would be my salvation.  And in some ways, it has been.  It’s given me a new body, a new outlook on health and fitness, and a new career.  It’s given me a whole host of new friends, and four years of great times.

It’s also been the source of sleepless nights, arguments, hysterical crying before practice, an overfull inbox, various injuries, and neglected non-derby friends.

It wasn’t until my third season that I let myself off the hook for derby stuff.  I had to make hard choices – leaving Thunder – so that I wouldn’t just pack up and quit entirely.  I had to look myself in the face and ask what I wanted from derby and what I was willing and able to give.  And I am SO GLAD that I did.

Being honest with myself kept me sane, and kept me playing.  In the face of lots of change – that’s your best option: Be honest.  Know what you can handle and what you can’t.  Get on with it.

We have to face a lot of changes in our lives.  Let’s face it honestly, with courage and determination.  I have a feeling that’s how TCRG is going to head into our 2013 season, and I couldn’t be prouder or more excited to be a part of it.

TCRG ♥ (photo courtesy of Joe Mac)

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