Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Derby-versary: lessons learned in a year

Second game-Red v. Black scrimmage
Well...one year ago I started roller derby boot camp.  Yup-exactly one year ago.

I think about that first day of boot camp...my equipment was all still new.  I remember Bruiseberry Muffin had to adjust my toe stops because they were ALL the way out...like I knew that wasn't natural?  Derby lesson #1-toe stops
need to be in a bit so they don't drag on the floor and mess up your skating.  Thanks to Bruise for making the adjustment and not judging me for my ignorance. 

I was missing some of my gear, so I had to borrow elbow pads and wrist guards.  For some reason, my 'rookie package' didn't get all the parts and pieces.  I went to the gear box and borrowed some equipment.  Ima Firestarter handed me wrist guards and said that I get to wear "Ima's stinky gear" as though it was a badge of honor.  I was too star stuck to realize that her old gear really was stinky.  Derby lesson #2-gear stink NEVER goes away.  How did I combat this?  Not washing my gear for a solid 10 months...only to wash it once and then decide to buy new pads (well...wrists and knees at least...I'm still sporting the original pad funk in the elbow region)

We started boot camp with SOOOOO many new people.  I think there were over 60 of us.  I don't remember half of their names, mostly because a lot of them ended up dropping out for one reason or another.  Injuries plagued some...family commitments got others...and still some fell victim to the immense commitment of derby.  Either way, a large percentage of our boot camp class dropped off.  Derby lesson #3-Derby has a HIGH turnover.  It makes me sad, but I totally understand how now everyone can be a skater.  Derby takes a toll on your body and eats up all your free time.  Thankfully, the league needs more than just skaters and has room for everyone.

The first round of testing went AWESOME!  I was super stoked at how that went...I went home and posted my results on the refrigerator.  I was mostly surprised I managed to test well given the fact that AnnA Maniac was my evaluator.  If I thought I was star struck when Ima lent me her old pads...I was BEYOND star struck when THE ONE AND ONLY AnnA Maniac was evaluating MY skating abilities after 6 weeks of boot camp.  I almost peed my pants...not going to lie.  Derby lesson #4-one CAN learn minimum skating skills in a manner of 6 weeks. Just keep skating...just keep skating...just keep skating skating.

The second round of testing was less than stellar.  I did not pass...barely...but no pass nonetheless.  I really wanted to cry when I read those results.  I didn't understand what I did wrong.  I thought I had it down...I thought I did it right...I thought I knew what I was doing.  That's not how I tested though.  Derby lesson #5-derby leads to heartbreak.  Derby has been a HUMBLING experience for me.  I did not like this first humbling...but I keep fighting and working and developing to become better each and every practice.  I may not always succeed, but that doesn't mean I stop.

Once I passed the second round of testing (on the second try) I was admitted into the league.  I didn't really know what that meant at the time...and I don't really think I can say what it means now...but I do know I'm a part of something.  I'm a part of a group of strong and amazing women that are working together to better themselves, the sport of roller derby, and the Omaha community.  I found out this summer I am more a part of this group than I realized.  When Selah died in May, I had league members I had barely talked to (again...STAR STRUCK) reach out to me and offer their sympathies.  When I had my miscarriage in June, even more league members I had barely talked to reached out to me and offered sympathies.  Derby lesson #6-league members are supportive of other league members even if they are wallflowers (like meeeeeeeee!).

First Game! 
As the season progressed, I got more and more involved in the league.  It was great to begin building relationships and seeing the 'sisterhood' described in our league bylaws.  I didn't have sisters growing up...and I'm willing to bet the league 'sisterhood' is not the same as biological 'sisterhood'.  However, I am willing to bet that biological sisters experience some of the same drama that is experienced in the 'sisterhood' of roller derby.  Feelings get hurt and conflict happens-especially since not all personalities mix well.  Derby lesson #7-a league comprised mostly of and run by women is bound to experience some form of drama sooner or later.  The good news is derby lesson #8 is that the Omaha Roller Girls are willing to talk about differences and ways to better the league AS A LEAGUE instead of getting angry or frustrated and self-imploding.  That's one of the reasons why I am proud to say I am an Omaha Roller Girl. 
As I prepare to embark on year #2, I know there will be more lessons.  I'm not sure what is in the coming year, but I'm excited to see what lies ahead. 

So thank you Omaha Roller Girls for welcoming me into your club. 


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Turning of the season and helping others

I always forget how much I love fall season.  It's so nice to have a break from the HOT and HUMID weather.  Stepping outside when it's crisp, sunny, and cool outside just makes me happy.  Plus...that means winter and the first snow is on its way.  I am one of those weird people that really enjoys snow and cold...I know I know...I'm crazy.

While a lot of people dislike the winter months because of the dreary atmosphere, bad roads and even worse drivers, or inevitable illnesses, others dislike them because of the cold and lack of protection they have from the elements.  This has never bothered me.  I grew up in South Dakota...which really had mild winters in comparison.  Much of my family is from further north, so I got a taste of cold Minnesota winters as well.  Because my parents are from the great white north, I learned how to 'survive' the winter.  I learned that winter gear is essential and one must dress for the cold if one is to avoid being miserable.  Sadly, not everyone living in northern climates are accustomed to cold winters and are not equipped to survive the winters let alone enjoy them. 

Surprisingly, Omaha has a fairly large refugee population.  A large number of refugees from several countries resettle in Omaha.  One of the largest groups in Omaha now are people from Burma.  Burma is experiencing a terrible civil war.  There are many people groups within Burma who want their independence and the right to form their own states.  This desire is being resisted by the existing government through an incredible amount of violence.  Various people groups are resorting to life in refugee camps in Thailand for some semblance of safety and holding their family together...though this does not always happen.  When a family is able to flee Burma and take refuge in another location, such as Omaha, they take the opportunity seeking jobs, education for their children, and above all: safety.  They come with everything they have, which isn't much.  The clothes they have are certainly not enough to protect them from the cold winters in Omaha. 

This fall, I am helping others at my church with a way to help these people meet a very real and very tangible need.  Crocheting and knitting have been a hobby in my family for many many generations.  I learned when I was in college and have learned some very simple patterns for blankets, scarves, and hats.  A few ladys at my church also crochet and knit.  One of them had the brilliant idea of setting a goal of crocheting and/or knitting 150 hats and scarves for the refugees from Burma by October 1 to help them prepare for the winter months.  Refugees new to Omaha have NEVER seen snow in their lives...how could they know what they need to stay warm?  There is NO WAY any one individual could knit or crochet that many hats and scarves in a month, so we're working together as a community to achieve this goal.  Since she's set this goal, I've started to trade my lay around and do nothing time for lay around and crochet time.  My progress is slow since I don't have a ton of extra time between derby and work, but I'm finding the time I can to make just one more hat or one more scarf for one more person.  I've finished one adult hat, one baby hat, and one child's hat.  I'm starting another adult hat now.  I'm hoping to get a few hats done so I can move on to more time consuming scarves. 

I tell you all this to offer you a chance to help as well.  Bust our that hook or those needles and make one or more.  Any contribution you can make will meet a need for one person.  Feel free to send me an e-mail (imv dot 0707 at gmail dot com) and I can let you know where to send them so we can reach our goal of 150.  Don't know how to crochet?  Share this blog with your friends and family that do to see if they want to make a hat or four. 

Thanks for your help.  I'll post some pictures of final products here closer to October 1.