New skaters make my heart happy

Last weekend* I helped coach Derby Daze, a weekend of roller derby workshops put on by the Rose City Rollers’ travel team.

Shevawn and I led strategy hour. Photo by Frac.
Shevawn and I led strategy hour. Photo by Frac.

It gave me a lot of perspective. Aside from a lunchtime strategy lecture** I was lucky enough to float to other skaters’ clinics and help newer skaters master the skills, one-on-one. Interacting with newer skaters reminds me why I skate derby. And how far I’ve come. That’s one thing I don’t think new skaters understand: When a veteran skater smiles at you — or can’t help but laugh a bit — they’re (probably) not laughing at you; they’re laughing at a previous version of themselves that they see in you.

On the first day of the workshops, I asked a skater in our rec league, “what’s been the best part about Derby Daze so far?” She said, “I’ll tell you tomorrow.” I didn’t meet with her again because she was in the advanced class and I tried to stay in the beginner and intermediate-level workshops, so I could be of the most help.

To close the weekend, travel team members scrimmaged with all the skaters. As a special prize, a line-up of black-shirted advanced-level skaters got to scrimmage a white-shirted travel team line up for one jam. My line was Havana Good Time, Belle Starr and Skeeve Holt and they handed me the jammer cap. In that quiet moment before the jam whistle, my opposing jammer tapped my shoulder.
“Hey Dash.”
“Remember when you asked me what my favorite moment of Derby Daze was? It’s this. Right now. This is one of the best moments of my life***.”


*You: “Dash, why are you writing about last weekend when you still haven’t written about Team USA tryouts, which you went to?” Me: “…(guilty face)…”
**and by lecture I mean theatrical performance/sideshow/comedy schtick.
***Way to melt my heart, wrecker. Jerk. (wipes tear) I love your heart, jerk. You probably thought it was a big deal wearing a star next to me because my star was purple, but you were the most inspiring skater.

Mental toughness, by Scarlene

My league-mate Frisky Sour keeps a blog about derby and manatees. This week she featured one of my other league-mates, Scarlene, who talked about mental toughness. Listen to the lady. She’s hilarious, pretty and smart. Woah.

Here is an excerpt of their interview:

Frisky: What is mental toughness, and why is it important?

Scarlene: In my humble opinion, roller derby is 80% mental. You have to convince yourself that you aren’t tired, you can get back up again, you aren’t afraid of anyone you’re blocking/jamming against, you know what to do when your teammates get penalties and leave the track. The list goes on and on. When everything else fails, or seems like its going to fail, you can really only rely on your brain.You practice strategies and skills over and over again – do you do the same thing for your brain? Do you visualize greatness or agonize over mistakes? We are most critical of ourselves and need to look inward for strength when, for lack of a better term, shit is gettin’ cray.


You led a session at Derby Daze last summer about mental training, which I hear was super popular. What do people want to know?

I have a lot of catch phrases I use in my life. Almost every time I step on the track I have to have a mantra to stay focused. I shared a lot of those, and stressed the importance of staying positive. Instead of saying “I’m not going to the box,” say “I’m going to skate clean.” If you’re plagued with arms penalties, think about putting emphasis on your hips instead of thinking about NOT using your arms. Many moons ago a coach told me to stop looking at the wall I want to bust through and look THROUGH the wall at my destination. It was such a simple thing but has always stuck with me. I use that for my mental game as well. I don’t think about the thing I don’t want to do, I think about what I need to do to succeed instead …

Read the full article here.