From the helmet of: Tesla
I've got to share something. I've been a little quiet, and I've been a little tired, but I'm beginning to feel a shift. I wanted to write about the importance of friendship, and the impact that derby relationships have had on me lately. Derby saves our souls, we say that all the time, but I'm beginning to realize that it isn't the sport or the self-challenge, or the growth even. Not all the time. Sometimes (a lot of the time) it's the people that facilitate the growth.
Derby brings all different kinds of people together, and everyone has something in them that can help someone else, even if both people don't know it. I've met some people that I have really disliked, but even they have taught me something. The girl that knocked me down over and over when I was brand new really got a lot of my ire for a while, but once I began to feel more comfortable on the track, I realized that I owed her a lot. She didn't go easy on me, and I needed it. It was tough derby love. Some of the girls I immediately disliked ended up being super toxic and awful, and they taught me the most, maybe. I learned how not to act. They taught me how not to handle criticism, defeat, and challenge. The ability to learn from other peoples' mistakes is a blessing.
Then there are the undercover angels, the ones that teach you compassion and drop little nuggets of wisdom, even if they don't mean to. The girl that always checks on me after I fall. The girl that always tells me how great I'm doing, especially when I'm really beat up. The girl that struggles in scrimmage but never, ever gives up. The girl that is always willing to try a new move, even if she might fall. You are my derby heroes and heroines. You make this sport the greatest in the world to me, and even if you never realize it, even if I never work up the courage to tell you, you've saved my soul.
I came home from a really rough pick-up game one night and ate myself sick. I felt I'd done so poorly in the scrimmage that I cried into a bag of potato chips. I don't even eat potato chips! I was a sad sight. I messaged Gravy and off-loaded all of my woes over the night's failures. She reminded me that I'd just played a game with men and women who had years and years of experience on me. She assured me that the only way to improve is to play up, and she said something that I've been holding in my mind ever since: "You're better now than you were before." Something clicked. I had this sudden realization that the MOMENT practice is done, I'm better than I was before it started. I may be beat down. I may be tired and sad. I may cry. Whatever I do or feel, I'm better than I was before.
Every time I feel down now I think about that and it motivates me. Every walk, jog, weight lifting session, yoga hour, or derby practice, I think about that. Every opportunity to skate, even if I know it will be really hard, I now take. I don't talk myself out of things the way I used to, and I accept the bad with the reward. Last Sunday I assessed up to the Advanced level of our rec league. I'm pretty sure I just barely made that cut, and I'm really ready for the challenges the next level will bring. One of the upper level skaters mentioned that the Rec A Team was holding tryouts, and that I should give it a go. Realistically, I have a ton of work ahead of me before I am at that level, but who the crap cares? What a good opportunity to get feedback on my weak points and skate with some higher level girls! Am I terrified? Yep. Have I been throwing up a little every time I think about it? Yep. It's tomorrow. I worked out super hard yesterday and my legs are destroyed. I have a lot of fear coursing through me right now (and advil), but I'm 100% pumped. Bring it on, A Team! Tesla's ready for her beat down.
From the helmet of: Nicki Ticki Timebomb. Nicki Prifogle started skating in 2010, and skated banked track roller derby with TXRD as a Rhinestone Cowgirl until 2014. She made a switch to flat track and became a TXRG Hustler in 2015.
Over the past several months I've been working hard to become a better flat track skater. It's been rewarding and challenging and I love every minute of it.
For those of you that are learning, or struggling, or even just need a little advice... I feel like I've narrowed it down to four things to help me grow the fastest, and wanted to share. This is just my opinion, so please feel free to add to the list too!
1. Ask questions. No question is a dumb one. In fact, if you aren't getting the advice you are seeking at your practices, then ask someone. No one is a mind reader. There are so many veteran skaters and trainers that are willing to help.
2. Take constructive criticism, and be thankful that someone took the time to notice and tell you, ultimately to help you get better. Do not get defensive, this is one way to learn. Don't just hear them... listen to them. Take it in and really try to apply it. Don't just be set in your ways, try to grow from this. Your team mates and league mates are there for you. If they didn't want you to succeed they wouldn't have picked you to be there!
3. This one is new for me. Watch derby. Watch a lot of it. Take notes on what skills you would like to do at your next practices. Ask people in your league that you look up to, to give you a few skaters to really study that have similar body types and/or skating techniques. Watch derby. Watch. Watch. Rewind and watch it again. Watch their feet over and over, rewind and only watch their upper body... And so forth. But remember you can never watch too much.
4. Lastly.... FAIL. Do not be afraid to fail. When we put ourselves outside of our comfort zone to learn new things we will fail before perfection. This is how you learn. Throw yourself out there. Try new things, even if you are nervous. Be courageous, and fail into perfection!
Please feel free to share your thoughts on what's worked for you during times of extreme growth!
Tesla and Gravy
Just two rollergirls trying to share the rollerlove from Austin, TX to the world.