Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Derby Night of the Living Dead

This past Saturday was Derby Night of the Living Dead. The Boardwalk Brawlers hosted a double-header in Egg Harbor Township featuring mens derby as well. The New York Shock Exchange battled it out against the Connecticut Death Squad and we took on Harrisburg Area Roller Derby (HARD).

I served as a non-skating official. My job was to record and time penalties for CT during the mens game and for HARD during our game. I sat in a chair directly behind three folding chairs serving as the penalty box. When someone got a one minute penalty I had to start timing their penalty as soon as their ass hit the chair. At thirty seconds, I yelled "30 seconds!", at 50 seconds, I yelled, "10! Stand!" so they could get ready to go back out, and at 60 seconds I yelled, "Done!". Penalties are one minute with the exception of a two-minute penalty. I don't know what it's called but there a few ways to get it. There was one two-minute penalty and the referee skated over to me and told me. There was no other way for me to know.

In addition to timing and yelling, I had to fill out a chart with the period, jam number (I had to keep track of that myself), skater, skater position and the time spent in the box during each jam. Jams are only two minutes long and they are often called off early by the lead jammer if they feel they can no longer score points. It's a strategy to conserve their, and their team's, energy. So penalties are usually served over the course of two jams, if not three in rare cases. When the jam came to an end, I stopped the watch and jotted down the time. I started it again at the whistle of the start of the next jam.

It's fun when you end up with three people in the box because then you get to do quick math. I know, I'm a dork. There's only one stop-watch so you have to write down at which second each person entered the box and then do quick math to make sure everyone gets their fair warning.

I was certainly an unbiased penalty tracker (of course) even though I wanted the opposing teams to win. I was amazed how often I was ignored even though I was screaming the warnings. More often than not no one stood when I told them to stand and they didn't budge when I yelled, "Done!" a foot behind them. I'd be leaning forward tapping them on the shoulder with my pencil yelling "done" and they'd be watching the game like a spectator. I could have let up but didn't. I did my fair amount of pushing and I screamed until my voice was hoarse.

My teammate was tracking penalties for the two home teams, BB and NYSE. She was nervous and lacked confidence in her ability to do the job so I offered to take the away teams thinking she'd be more comfortable with her teammates. That was a very good thing. CT and HARD both tripled the amount of penalties of NYSE and BB. My teammate was very grateful and I liked having something to do. Just to give you an idea, I'd say each team I tracked penalties for had an average of 15 major penalties per 30 minute period. If one member of the team gets four in a period, they are ejected for that period, but allowed to come back for the next. So basically, the opposing teams had an average of fifteen minutes of "power play" time per period. In derby, it's called a power jam.

I had a blast. Even when one of the guys got pissed off and threw all my chairs (he later apologized). We had a great turn-out, great volunteers, and the games were clean and fun and fortunately, no one got hurt other than some rink rash, a few bruises, a twisted ankle and a sprained wrist.

NYSE beat CT by over 100 points. BB and Hard were neck and neck the entire game, but HARD pulled ahead in the last two jams and beat us by 16 points. The final score was BB: 112 HARD: 128.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Back on Wheels

I went to practice last night and this time I dressed and brought all my gear. I was shocked to see five fresh meat at practice and looked forward to coaching them for two hours.

They were an excellent group and I think I did a good job. I gave them my full attention the entire time, something I wish I had been given when I was learning, but there isn't a set person who works with the fresh meat so it was always a little chaotic. We practiced T-stops and did leg strengthening drills for a while. Near the end I had the girls doing knee falls. It was fun being back on skates and again, I didn't miss playing with the girls one bit. In fact, they were being punished for whining too much and had to do torturous falling drills and I couldn't help smiling a little inside.

I was glad I was there to work with the fresh meat and answer all their questions and make them feel welcome. Practice can be fairly intimidating for the newbs and I can see how they may feel unwelcome or like a burden if someone isn't there to work with them because then they either get stuck sitting around or someone has to take time away from coaching the team to coach them. So I was pleased with the role I played and the support I provided. It felt good to get a little exercise again too but I do miss that intense cardio.

A Success

I am pleased to announce that our Engagement Party was a huge success. It took a lot of work, and I would never do it again, but I can look back and smile.

So many people were such a tremendous help and the party was a group effort no doubt. I also think the arrival of my big brother, Doug, a few days in advance also helped a lot. It was so wonderful knowing he was nearby and getting to see him for a little while in the the stressful time leading up to the party. Mike was a tremendous help as well and I am thrilled he enjoyed our party as much as I did, if not more.

It was really great seeing my uncles talk to Mike's uncles and hearing my girlfriends ask my cousin, Jackie, to join them in their chit chat and seeing our guy friends hang on Doug's every word. It was such a great group.

Now everything is getting back to normal. I had a really nice conversation with my mom Tuesday night and I was pleased to hear that she also enjoyed herself and was well on her way to recovery.

Mike and I are gearing up for the next party October 25, but this one is our annual and causes very little stress. It'll be nice to party again with my friends so soon and this time....I'm getting drunk!

I'll be sure to post some pictures from the engagement party when I have them.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Thursday night paddle

I met up with The Best Delaware Valley Kayaking Group Ever last night at 6:00 at Cooper River to go kayaking. It was super close to home, easy to get to, and totally great to do after a hard day at work. And kayaking in the dark is definitely a cool experience.

That's actually me...very very tiny me.

Do you see the dog? He's wearing a doggie life preserver!

Me again

Philly skyline at sunset

Derby Decisions

My brother Doug said it best. I like the idea of roller derby better than I like playing roller derby. He is 100% correct.

Monday night I found myself suffering from my usual Monday night anxiety. An anxiety caused by the fear of attending Wednesday night practice and the pressure of attending Wednesday night practice. This anxiety started about a month ago - when I started practicing and playing with the team - no more kids corner. As of most recently the anxiety was enhanced by the fear of the looming bout on October 18 as well as the threats of additional practice nights. I was doubting my ability, my level of commitment, and consistently afraid of getting hurt or hurting someone else, amongst other things.

This all reared it's big fat ugly head on Monday night on the way home from class in the form of a panic attack. I calmly walked through the door, grabbed a pen and pad and asked Mike to please review a list of pros and cons with me - pros being the reasons to resign from roller derby.

So we talked. And Mike did not want me to quit. He had valid reasons, but he also didn't know what was in my head and Mike is much more of a go-getter than I am. He told me stories of his wrestling days in high school and his band days as an adult and I remained quiet as I wondered what the hell his stories had to do with me quitting roller derby.

I reminded him that I know myself well enough to know that nothing, I repeat nothing, could make me drive forty minutes to practice on a freezing, pitch black Wednesday night in the winter. Come December I'll already have two nights of class a week and I know my commitment to this sport is not forever and why should I continue to suffer this pressure, anxiety, and possible injury to just quit come winter?

The only cons to quitting I could come up with were missing the intense two hour cardio workout and missing the girls. Mike and I butted heads and I finally just decided to call Doug, my go-to guy for great advice.

Talking to Doug was most helpful. We went over the nitty gritty and the annoying facts - like Sunday practice an hour and a half away - resulting in my never getting to watch football. The whole being held accountable by twelve girls at this point in my life. The fear, which Doug said was quite clear to him in my blog posts. We just talked it all over, and although I made my decision before I even spoke to Mike or Doug, I finally felt good about it. I decided I would resign Tuesday morning.

I woke up Tuesday morning with awful anxiety. Fear of resigning I'm sure. I didn't know if the girls were gonna tell me off or if I'd regret my decision (I doubted it). I e-mailed our team President then posted on the team message board that I submitted my resignation and that I just felt that I could not commit to the team at the level expected of its members and I wished everyone and the team the best.

I thought I'd feel better immediately, but I didn't. I was nervous about what kind of response I would get. Then the responses started rolling in and it was a lot of lets work something outs and please don't do this and I'd be missed and then a very lengthy discussion ensued about levels of commitment and should there be two tiers for members. I sat back saying nothing watching this all unfold. The whole two tiers thing I knew would not fly. It's completely unfair to the full-time committed members who bust their ass week after week and drive all over the place going to practices. That's one of the reasons I resigned - I felt shitty doing this thing half-assed and I knew down the road I'd get shit for it.

So all this unfolded and still no word from the President. It was like an argument amongst children and I was just silently waiting for Mommy to chime in. And then she did.

I admit I was shocked and relieved instantaneously. She told me she understood and respected my decision and would I be interested in helping out the team at the bout and at some practices and events when I could? I felt amazing. So basically, could I still be a part of the team, not have to worry about going to every practice, not have to worry about bouting and getting hurt, and help out the team which I love anyway? Hell yeah!

Then some of the other girls started asking me the same thing. Then I learned that derby teams do have support staff and ours doesn't and that we need people like me. Someone even suggested I learn how to ref which in my opinion is a pretty cool thing to do. Remaining on the team in this new role seemed to make perfect sense to me.

So I went to practice Wednesday in flip flops instead of skates and blew my whistle and reviewed all the rules in more detail and did whatever was needed of me. No one gave me any shit and it was as if nothing changed at all. And let me tell you with one hundred percent certainty, not once did I miss not practicing with those girls. If anything, I felt relief - especially when they were doing their hitting drills.

At the end of the night I only missed not getting in a good workout. But I'm going to dress for now on and bring my skates so that I can help out in that fashion as well so I'm sure my days of playing the game are not over - but I imagine the pressure will no longer be there as I'll only be playing to help better my team and not myself.

Overall, I couldn't be happier with how everything turned out.

Dusk on Twilight

I left work at noon last Friday and went home and finished the Twilight series. I had a wonderful time and smiled softly as I finished Breaking Dawn and closed the book for the last time. I adoringly set them all on the shelf and look forward to visiting them again some time in the future.

Even still, I think of Bella and Edward and find myself startled for a split second, as if I've forgotten to do something very important. Then I remember that chapter is closed for now and I no longer have to rush through my chores in order to jump under the covers and pick up my book yearning for more.

I do miss them though, and think of them fondly as one would reminisce of an old friend.