Fresh Meat Fears: Not Making the Cut
With my previous posts, I may sound like a crooked car dealer, selling you a “perfect” shiny car that’s actually a lemon. Well, being brutally honest is one of my favorite personality traits. So let me outline the not-so-pretty parts of derby, aside from smelling like a gym locker.
Derby is amazing. That is true, but there are things that you may not be aware of or prepared for. Coming to practice and learning how to skate and do all things derby is just the very basic. Physical strength is not the only thing that you need to learn, build on or bring to the game. Mental strength is so important: it is something you may not realize that you lack, or that you have a lot of. Those minimum skills assessments can be rough: the 27/5 can be really tough for some. There are some that make the skills and laps tests look effortless while others struggle for what seems like a personal eternity.
During practice and bouts you’re going to see many different scenarios:
This is an emotionally tough sport: you will see and hear a mixture of different personalities, arguments, crying, laughing, frustration, pride for all the accomplishments. They all happen but in the end it’s always togetherness as a team that makes it all worthwhile.
In derby, mental weakness is not your friend. Staying positive and avoid comparing your abilities with others’ is not always going to happen. Beating yourself up and wanting to quit because you aren’t getting it will get you nowhere fast. Trust me: I’ve had times that I beat myself up during practice because I just couldn’t seem to pick up that one skill that *everybody* else seemed to have mastered. The team didn’t allow that negativity, and they are quick to remind you that everyone learns different things at their own time and we are all freaking super stars!
You may pass all your assessments and start playing the very first bout of the season, you may not play for a year sometimes more.
Not “making the cut” does not mean you are not part of the team. The team needs you, on and off the track. [Ed. note: 10,000% true!] Of course we all want to be together on the track playing a sport we all love, but getting discouraged is not going to help you to get out there and be a derby boss.
You will kick ass:
Ass kicking can happen in other, non-physical ways, trust me. I did it; I kicked ass, along with tons of other volunteers and skaters that weren’t bouting for one reason or another. I was unable to play the entire season, but I was there for almost every single game. Setting up and running the bouts is part of the thrill and being part of the team. Volunteering, for different things, being part of different committees, you are all needed. Watching your teammates come together on the track and be a unit is really amazing you realize that you are part of something greater.
Some of us want to dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly and jump in immediately, and then life reminds you that it just can’t happen. For one reason or another, things happen. Family, work, school, illness etc. Any time you can dedicate to the team is always welcomed. Your teammates love you and want to see you in whatever capacity best suits your life and schedule.
Injuries, they happen:
They suck. Sometimes you get hurt completely unrelated to derby. Yyou can hurt yourself in your first bout, your third practice, walking Fluffy and slipping on ice. The worst thing is being told you can’t be on skates, or you can skate but you can’t make contact (i.e. – no hitting at practice, which limits your practice time). You feel lost because you want to be skating with your team. It doesn’t mean you have to stop being a part of the team! It’s the opposite: being present; helping as much as you can; giving all that YOU are able to is so appreciated and definitely needed.
Now that the first season of Fresh Meat to Rookie is behind us, I want to thank all the vets for being amazing to us. Thank you for picking a “freshie to adopt”, that was such an awesome thing to do and it meant the world to all of us. You have inspired each and every one of us in one way, shape, or form. I can’t wait for next year to watch us continue to grow as a team and have an even more amazing season.
To our current and future Freshies, remember things are hard at times, but you will gain friendships you never had, and a second family that will have your back on and off the track.