Friday, October 10, 2014

Game Face

This season I have been thinking a lot about my Game Face.

First of all, what do I mean when I say Game Face? I use this term to mean the persona, that is the attitude as well as physical representation, of your skating person, what you are presenting to your fellow skaters. In derby we get to take on names and can even wear costumes of sorts or paint our faces, but what about our character? Who are you? How do you act? Is it just the same 'you' as every day? Or do you have a sports demeanour, all competition all the time, or are you self-effacing and giggly because of nerves, or perhaps you are tough as nails and serious till the last whistle.

So, let us all now take a moment to look in the mirror and assess our current Game Face. It's always best to know where you are starting from and get to know who you are when you are not thinking about it, then you can decide to change it or embrace it. Do you put on a new personality with purpose or do you just sort of get on the track and do what you do? Some questions to ask yourself:

~Have I ever even thought about this before?
 If not, likely you have no game face, you are who you are in practice or on the track. That could work out just fine for you, as long as you're ok with it. If you have thought about a Game Face, or what you're portraying on the track, then it is more possible that there are certain attitudes you are actually trying to put across, when you remember or think of it, or perhaps you already have a solid character that you put on with your skates every time.

~Are there things I do on the track (reactions I have, actions I take) that I don't like and would like to change?
These could be things like yelling out of frustration at the refs or carrying anger from calls, not communicating enough to your teammates, too friendly, not friendly enough, focus, quick tempered, too serious, not serious enough, more competitive, too competitive, slow reactions etc. It is good to think of these things very specifically, who do you NOT want to be on the track?

~What do you think are your character strengths that you like and want to make sure are always there being shown on the track?
These could be your communication skills, or you you like how tough you are, or you like how nice you are, etc. Each person is different and has different ideals of what is the perfect way to be on the track. Think about what your ideals are. When you are watching derby which girls do you notice for their attitudes on the track, and what are those attitudes? Looking to others for our ideals is an easy place to start when we are not sure what it is we are looking to be. Work to think of specific attributes, who do you want to be on the track?

My answers go something like this:
Yes, I've thought about this numerous times, though not always sure what it is I think is best to be on the track (I change my mind) and then I often forget to think about it on game days.
Yes, there are things on the track I would like to change. I am so good at being calm and rational in life and work and not holding on to anger but on the track I can be quick tempered and I know it can ruin games; holding on to aggravation from perceived bad calls etc. I want to change this. I'd like to be more even keeled ALL the time.
I can be a good a good communicator  but sometimes in games I forget, I need to make sure to always bring that to the track. I think that I also have to come to terms with the fact that I'm an intimidator. I don't really plan on being one, but I have learned from others that I am perceived like that. I think that I have to embrace that more, it's clearly just a part of who I am.

Now that I know more clearly the things I need to do, I can go about starting to make these things happen on the track. Like all good skills the first place these things need to happen is in practice. Any skill or habit just requires some repetition and eventually we create new paths in our brain and the actions turn into something we don't even have to think about. First make a list (a very succinct one) of the traits/actions you want to add to your repertoire. My list:
- calm
- each jam new jam
- OK Refs (my reminder to just always say OK and skate away when called on a penalty. I have started now at practice, no matter who calls me on what, to just look at them, say OK, and skate away. Because in the game it also doesn't matter if the call is "right" or "wrong" I have to take my penalty. Period. Getting used to being good about taking "bad" calls is the BEST way to be good at taking ALL calls.)
- Talk always
- you are scary

The same way we do three wall drills forever (you can always get better) to teach our muscles to know what to do in EVERY scenario possible, we can do 'calmness' drills or 'communication' drills to achieve the same goals. These are drills that you can run, for yourself (or with the aid of a coach), in practice. Of course you do not have to attack all of your items at once, you can pick a specific point and work on that at one time for some attributes and others, like taking penalties well, you can try to always do at every practice during all drills.

During scrimmage parts of your practice try to "put on your game face" be an EXTREME version of the things you want to be. If you want to communicate more talk CONSTANTLY during your practice drills, if you want to be tougher practice your stern face even when others may be giggling, if you talk back to Refs practice saying NOTHING AT ALL. Those are the biggest wins, when it's hard to do, and you do it anyway. Each of those times, when you hold your temper, or communicate consistently, or remain calm in the face of frustrating calls, you are building habits. The more you drill the wanted traits, the more likely they will become a part of your regular game face, as they will become an intrinsic part of who you are on the track.

The next part to bringing your Game Face to the game is having a proper and always the same Game Day Routine. If you already have this (which you should!) add "putting on your Game Face" to it. Think about when it is on game day that you are going to take the moment to go through what you are and what you are presenting. Is it going to be while your are sitting in the locker room before the game? Are you going to need to take a moment by yourself just at the side of the track before the first whistle? Or, is it something that you put on in the morning of Game Day? All of these are fine options and obviously as with all things, it depends on the individual. The important part is thinking about it, and PLANNING it, specifically, before Game Day, so that it becomes a part of your Game Day Routine and something that, eventually, you don't even have to think about.

When do you put on your Game Face? What does it look like? I would love to hear in the comments to help everyone see what other skaters are thinking about.

Can't wait to see your Game Faces on the track!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

To Criticize or Not to Criticize

Unless we start out perfect on our path to greatness, whether it be in derby or anything else, we will need to assess and improve. We will need to assess which aspects we are doing well, and try to make them consistent and faster and stronger in whatever way is applicable. We will also need to evaluate what is not working, what requires change to lead to improvement and ultimately to our goal of greatness. This means that the path to greatness requires criticism, but, it does not mean that all criticism is good. Herein lies the complexity.

Criticism Can be Good
First we need to understand that all criticism isn't bad. No, really. Criticism on its face isn't bad. It's good. It is the only thing that leads to betterment. When we know what is wrong, we can fix it. Every time we are looking at a problem and trying to solve it we are doing a critical analysis of the situation. What isn't working? Where specifically is the problem? What can I do to fix that specific issue to solve the greater problem. Without criticism how do we know how to be better? Criticism is helping you reach your ultimate goal of greatness, each time you learn how you are doing something wrong it means you can change, learn how to do it right, and voila, improvement. You have gone up a level.

In derby we can easily see the way that criticism works in a positive way. You are given instruction from a trainer, say, on how to do a t-stop, then you try it out. The trainer will watch you and give you a critical analysis, "You've got your front foot in the right position but you really need to turn your back foot more to make a T-shape". They will likely give you some pointers on how better to get the shape, demonstrate it for you and then you will take that criticism (followed by direction and positivity) and try and change the part that you were doing wrong so that you can improve your t-stops.

That is a positive usage of criticism, and the way you want your coaches and trainers to be. They should be pointing out where improvements can be made, so you know what to work on, but they should always have direction as to how to do that improvement and positivity about your ability to achieve that goal. In other words, if someone is criticizing you it is positive when they are pushing you up (giving you ways to improve it, being positive about your ability to achieve that goal) not pushing you down. That's when we get in to the negative criticisms.

Criticism Can be Bad
Negative criticism is criticism that comes from the wrong place and, not shockingly, leads to the wrong place for the receiver. There are many wrong places negative criticism can come from; anger, jealousy, shame, competitiveness, revenge, guilt. Or sometimes, simply thoughtlessness. Sadly we have probably all come across this sort of criticism before when taking part in our sport and in life. This is human stuff so it's the same in all sports, or really, gatherings of humans anywhere. Negative criticism like when someone tosses off a remark about how you seemed to be in the way in the game more then anything, or being told that your penalty lost them the game. These are not positive criticisms. There is no advice on a way to improve (nor is it clear what specifically requires improvement) nor is there any positivity about your ability to achieve it. They are just cuts. Meant to sting as they plant their sour seeds, pushing you down, not up.

This kind of criticism is fairly evil really, because it is insidious, slowly seeding itself in your brain because you know it has some truth to it (perhaps there was a moment in the game you were in the way of your jammer, it happens) but it carries with it the growing plant of evil that is generalization. It has no basis but we will now extrapolate from that one comment, that heavily laden comment, that they were right in concluding that actually it was the WHOLE game that you spent being in the way. And, furthermore, you will continue to conclude (because once the ball is rolling it is SO easy to follow it down the hill) that it clearly means you are a completely horrible player who adds nothing to your team, you suck, you should probably just quit.

One of the most unfortunate things about negative criticism is that we are all really good at doing it to ourselves. Really, really good. In this world of unachievable role models and so much pressure for woman to be everything, fill every role, and (sadly) the female culture of cattiness and gossip that is proliferated in our media telling us how to act; as women, we have a lot of platforms to judge ourselves on and we are told we should be judging. There is no end to the ways in which I can list that I suck if I am to compare myself to the super moms. There are SO many things that I have not achieved yet when I compare myself to other academics. I still can't do laterals right. Sigh.

There is no end to things which I still have on my list of goals, as we all do. None of us are perfect, and none of us are good at everything. We all have our ups, and we all have our downs. That's the rub. But, negative criticism feeds your critical judgements of yourself. It does not seek positive outcome, there is no goal of improvement, there is only a spiral down into a pit of negativity wherein it is very difficult to see any light of positivity about yourself. That's a bad place. (I have lots to say about how to see this and stop it but, another time.)

What are YOU Saying
So, now you've read about two different ways to criticize, this is the time to stop and think about which one of those ways you use. Are you quick to throw out harsh comments while on the bench at a game? Do you criticize with the intent of improvement or simply out of anger? I want everyone to really think about this, because I'm sure that some of you reading this will have made comments that have affected someone deeply before. This may be surprising, a lot of people are surprised to hear that their words could hurt someone in a deep way. But they can.

Things we say are meaningful, words hold a lot of power, which is why we need to think about pushing people up. We need to be positive. We need to be the example for everyone else how to push up our peers, help them achieve their goals. We need to use positive criticism so that skaters can improve, and know that we are behind them, hoping they become amazing, pushing them to achieve whatever goals they are trying to achieve. We can not be bitter at others achievements, instead let it push you harder to achieve what you want to achieve. Look to your betters not in anger but in learning; look to your less skilled not with frustration but with support.

When someone says something critical to you that you feel has no goal, ask them "What are you trying to teach me?" If they look at you blank faced you can know that whatever the hell they said you can simply throw it out of your memory banks. There is no real information. Any time I have a criticism I can easily tell you what I am trying to teach you, there is always a reason, a goal, and a way that we can get you there. This should be the case for every criticism you give or receive. Let us all make each other more awesome.

*twinkle. *twinkle.

Monday, June 23, 2014

What Happens When You're Good?

This past few weeks I have been thinking a bit about what is like when you are good at derby. This would apply a great to deal to an all around talented derby player, either right at the beginning of their derby career as a fresh meat superstar or later on, at some point becoming a great derby player.

Freshmeat Superstar
Those skaters who started derby and seemed to just immediately know what to do have a particular set of obstacles to come up against, mostly the attitude and treatment of their freshmeat mates. Most often the fresh skaters who are amazing will have come from some other sport, hockey or figure skating, where in their crossover to derby skate skills were not something they needed to learn, just the sport. But, now and again, it's just someone who had never been on skates but thought derby looked cool and turned out to be awesome at it.

I'm sure we've all met one or two skaters like this (and some of you may be them) there is usually at least one in every fresh meat class. I have met a number thus far in my training and skating career and I'm always interested to watch how other skaters react to it, and how the skater herself deals with it. Of course as with all things human it depends on the individual a great deal as to how others deal with them. An arrogant person is an arrogant person, and whether they are awesome or not people are likely to find issue with them. But what about the nice people who are awesome, do we like them?

I haven't done any clinical studies of course but in derby I have to say generally we do like them, from my anecdotal experience, but many are still jealous, there is no getting away from this factor when you are talented at something. There will always be people trying to put you down, or belittle your talents because they don't have them and they want to find reasons to somehow invalidate them so that they can, in turn, validate their own lack of skill or effort.

It is not easy being the person who everyone thinks is amazing when you internally are still nervous about things and feel like you suck, which is most often what really superstar fresh meat people think about themselves. Because, as we all know, it is not difficult to look around and see skaters who are so much better then you, to humble your opinion of your own skills. This puts a lot of pressure on the superstars to be awesome. This means that when they are not awesome, when they are more sort of just regular, it's a big failure. That's tough and can often be magnified by their own self-judgement which is generally fairly harsh.

And, this may seem counter intuitive, but it can be very hard to hear people telling you how awesome you are all the time. We all enjoy being told we are good, but when we hear it all the time it loses meaning and what happens is we start not to believe any of it. This is a common issue with kids who are highly talented at something, the input becomes meaningless to them because even when you do something that you know is not very good (for you) someone will fawn over you for it. Sadly this sort of behaviour over time erodes your belief in the compliments and eventually invalidates all the compliments you receive as you realize they are not meaningful (or they don't seem to be as people who are giving them out are not necessarily very good judges of the skill).

The reason the superstars are awesome is always twofold, it's through hard work or luck their bodies have come fairly well balanced and muscled enough to learn how to skate well quickly but it's also always because they try hard. So, they are the kind of person who applies themselves to the task, in this case, learning derby. They are always working on a skill, you'll see them on the sidelines one foot weaving or practicing their transitions to make them faster or getting better at tomahawks. They push themselves, they want to be good.  They are not the girls who come to practice and have to be pushed into the drills, when the whistle blows they are the first ones there, ready to try out a new skill or get even better at an old one.

It's Good to Try Hard. Isn't it?
We are not in high school anymore (right?) and hopefully are not trying to underrepresent our talents so as to fit in or be "cool" (which sadly in high school for many means being an underachiever) or...are we?

This is a question I am often thinking of when I coach and have just explained a drill and am waiting for the skaters to take their place on the track to now run the drill. It is SO often that I have to more then twice call for skaters to set up for the drill, but there are ALWAYS those few girls who are going to jump and get on the track anytime they can, as soon as they can, to do a drill or run a scrimmage. (I do!) Nearly always those girls who are jumping on the track as fast as they can, are the girls who are the already better players or those who are getting to be good very quickly. So, why are the other girls NOT doing that?

It's not hard to see how it works, you try hard, you get results. Of course, that is not to say that there aren't skaters who are trying hard and not seeing the results as quickly, that's the part about how everyone is different. If you came to derby already athletic of course you are going to learn the skate skills faster, you will be able to apply your athleticism to the new application and teach your already knowledgeable muscles to do some new things. This is why we should NOT be comparing our journey to others, we all have our own hurdles to overcome, some far more then others. So, if you were not an awesome figure skater before derby, it may take you more time then the girl who is to learn to do beautiful transitions and jumps. It doesn't mean you won't get it, but she'll get it first, (as she should!!) coming with an applicable skill set, so you couldn't compare yourself to her, it would be apples to oranges.

So, when you are trying to be good you want every opportunity to practice and play. So, now you feel like, am I shithead because I am always jumping on the track? Shouldn't those other girls do this drill? Why are they not getting on the track? I'm gonna go if no one else is, I want to get better.
And what are those other skaters thinking, while they do not move? Likely things like; I don't really know if I get how to do this, I'm worried I will suck at this, I totally don't know how to do this, I'm not very good at this, I wonder if I'm understanding this correctly I'd like to see it to understand completely. etc. Pretty different thought patterns. So, to answer my question above, generally the other girls are NOT getting on the track right away basically because they feel inadequate or unsure in some way.

Part of being a good player, and good teammate/leaguemate is being very supportive. This applies to any skater. It is especially important for players who are good. Your talent (though it is due to hard work of course!!) puts you in a position of power, whether you want it or not. When you are good you will also have the spotlight foisted upon you. This is fine for many skaters who enjoy the warmth of that glow, but MANY skaters are very uncomfortable with the attention it brings and find this part very difficult. These are things that are just part of the hand you've been dealt. It is important that you actively help push up the other skaters, if you do not you will be seen as thinking you are better then everyone else. This means if you are shy or quiet this is an obstacle you will have to deal with; either push your limits to be more social or have some skaters think you think you're better then everyone else.

But, it IS good to try hard. I want to be awesome. I try hard. I get on the track as soon as I can whenever I can. I work out six days a week to grow muscles I don't have yet so I can do skills I can't do yet. I watch the skaters around me who are better then me (and I've got some great skaters around me) and I try to learn what I can from them. I watch what they do, and I try and do it. I try hard not to compare myself to them but to my own previous accomplishments, to remember just how far I have come. I have so much further to go, and I will never stop thinking that, because that's how I will get better. I did not start out fantastic, but it's my goal.

So, take away from today's lesson:
1. Stop worrying about whether you will suck and GET ON THE TRACK!!! We all suck at stuff at one time or another, who cares, you will only get better by doing. Just do it.
2. If you are good, make sure to be supportive to your league mates and teammates.
3. Never stop trying to be better.
4. DO NOT compare yourself to anyone else, particularly not the superstars (why hurt yourself in this way???). Compare yourself to YOU.
5. Definitely try to outdo yourself!!! Push yourself to be better. Track your improvements so that you can be proud when you have achieved them and know when to set new goals.

Remember, you are amazing. For realz.

*twinkle. *twinkle.
Daemon Star.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Captain My Captain

What's it all about, this Captain thing?

When you begin your derby career choosing the Captain is not something you feel very sure about. You're still learning the game, you probably don't really know all the girls on your team yet and may not yet know the role of the Captain. It may seem like a popularity contest. For your first Captain vote you are likely to choose someone who you already actually know, and is nice, and has been playing longer then you.

As you continue your derby career you learn lots about game play and skills, and you learn about your team and league, and the duties which need to be fulfilled. You play more games with your team and it becomes apparent that the Captain actually does things. It's likely your Captain is the one who tells you whether you have been rostered for a game and what lines you are on. It's also hard to miss that during a game they and the Assistant Captain are the only ones who can call time outs or official reviews. They have a Captains meeting before the game. Your Captain will be the one leading your game warm up, trying to make you all look awesome and scary, as well as testing out the floor (with stops, lateral movements, transitions and quicks starts) so you know what you'll be dealing with as you skate the game. Your Captain is also likely to give a talk before the game, a sort of team spirit rah-rah-rah, and then a pick me up at the half to mention areas that are going well and what isn't and what to try in the second half. At the end of the game your Captain should give a game wrap up talk; super positive no matter win or lose, we did our best, feel good about yourself. There is time at the next practice and through team chats online to discuss areas that need work.

What sort of responsibilities your Captain has outside of the game depends a little bit on your league. Some Captains plan and lead practices, some work with a coach to do this or even have a coach that does this entirely. But, even if your Captain doesn't plan the practices she should be extra aware of what is going on during the games, how the games are being played, where the problems in the game are, who works well together, who is not working well together, what strategies are working well or not, areas the team is lacking and areas the team is excelling. She should also be paying attention to how her teammates react to practices and continue to try and build them to better fulfill the needs of her skaters (or pass this info on to the one who does). And, wether or not your Captain runs/plans practices there are things outside of the game which will fall in her lap. These are the things that are much more nebulous then having the duty of calling timeouts at a game, non-game duties are all about making sure the team is happy, cohesive and working hard.

A good Captain is always trying to find ways to make sure her team is motivated, and trying to push them higher. This means being critical, positive and fair; helping them to see where they need work and making sure to notice where they are doing well, applauding their effort and improvements. This also means that a good Captain is always doing their best to be the best example of a good player; attending practices, being a positive teammate, taking criticism well and always giving one hundred percent effort. No one said it was easy to be a good Captain.

A good Captain is paying attention and notices when there is unrest in her team and nips it in the bud before it becomes a problem. It is at times difficult to see problems, as skaters are trying to put their best foot forward in front of you and not complain or whine (if you're doing your job), but if you keep communication open and make sure to listen when skaters talk to you, problems become apparent. A good Captain pays attention to each team member as an individual, so she knows things like who gets nervous before the game and could use a hug, and who needs attention after the game to not beat themselves up over small errors.

So, if this is what a Captain is, what person would best fulfil this role? Well, first of all, no one will fulfill this role perfectly all the time. We are all but human and there is a lot of stuff on that list and I'm sure I will think of more things that I missed. But, when looking for someone to be the best Captain that they can be, there are a few personality traits that make sense. Your Captain is likely going to be a born leader. This is not to say that it would be impossible for a quieter, less leader-y type of person to do this job (and do it well), as with all things there is never only one way to do a job well, but generally speaking someone who is comfortable speaking in front of groups, and taking a leadership role is better suited to the Captain role. In derby, these type of alpha women are not hard to find, and it is usually those women who are nominated in the first place.

Another personality trait that lends itself very well to the Captain position is someone who is very good at remaining calm in chaotic situations. As we all know games can get our blood boiling, with bad calls (or calls we feel are bad) or difficult game play or frustrating surfaces (I hate you when I'm blocking sport court! Love you when I'm jamming). It is great to have someone on the bench who is not too emotional and can be the calming wave when emotions are running high. It is also fortuitous to have a Captain who is VERY positive. This does not mean a non-critical Captain, but one who is simply an all around positive person. There is nothing better then someone who can see the best in every situation for helping a team stay bright and looking to the best of any difficult game or practice situation.

One of the most important things for a Captain to be is team oriented. That is, someone who really, truly is making decisions based on what she feels is best for the team. That means with rostering, making lines, deciding on strategies and figuring out practices. Things don't always work out the way we mean them to, and every decision a Captain makes is not going to be the right one, but if it is obvious to the team that those decisions are made FOR the team, with the TEAM's best in mind, that's a good Captain.

I have seen some great examples of good and bad Captains. The worst Captain I have personally seen was one who, in practices, was very laid back, didn't really plan very much (if anything) made out like it was no big deal if the team won or lost and didn't herself seem to be trying in the practices (in fact sometimes wouldn't even skate would just come and hang out). Then, come game time, she brought out the big guns. Yelling in the locker room at the team things like "you should know this!" and making the team feel like a big bunch of losers for not  knowing the plays or getting confused about game play and for not winning. So, she had created a situation and then was angry at her team for what she had created. Definitely not the kind of Captain you want.

I have also seen a number of Captains who have great points and some not so great points; too critical, not critical enough, not enough planning of practices, not enough positive feedback, not organized or not involved enough in the team (not taking the job seriously). But, none of us are perfect and it's always a balance between the "what's good" and "what's not" about whomever your Captain is. So, go ahead and vote for your Captains, but do think about what you need and what your team needs before you vote. As my good friend Keri Daway said, "It is not a personality contest and treating it as such belittles the job". It is an honour and should be treated as such, not only by the person who is in the role but also by those doing the voting.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Coach Daemon: Some Negatives of the Competitive Nature

One of the things I have to deal with all of the time as a Coach, with both juniors and adults, is "the competitive nature". The Competitive Nature is one which would really prefer to just be the best, all the time (as with all traits there is a spectrum); to skate the fastest, hit the hardest, juke the best, get the most points, take down the most girls etc.  Being competitive is not a bad thing, on it's face, and it is definitely a necessary thing in becoming the best in any endeavour. Even if you are only trying to outdo yourself, you must always be fighting to be better. There are many times I will talk about good ways to be competitive, and how important that is, but today it's about a couple of the cons.

One of the negative aspects can be that the competitive person develops a lack of empathy and/or lack of sympathy with those not at their level. These are the people who act like everyone could be as good as them, if they just tried a little. Those who pretend we are all on the same, level, playing field, just deciding where we get by our effort. We all know (deep down inside) that this is so incredibly not the case.

How could it be? Do we all have the same genes? Environment? Input?
In my juniors I have girls who are; very athletic and have come from other sports (often hockey or rugby), never played a sport until derby, athletic families, families who do sports together, families who don't do sports together, sedentary families, smart families, dumb families, supportive families, unsupportive families (these ones always hurt me to see), girls who had cancer and therapy and lost all of their muscle mass before they were 15, and girls who have led lucky healthy lives. Girls who could stand up from a knee from the beginning, and girls who couldn't. Lot's of differences. Lot's of choices thrust upon, not chosen. That's life. Different for everyone. We all only can do the best with what we have, and each new situation means a new time to make a better choice then the last time. There is no point in looking for sympathy for the hand you've been dealt (there will always be someone far worse off doing far better to humble you) better to just focus on your goals, grin through the pain knowing you're creating a future you want.

In the adult league I have seen more of that first type of negative of the competitive nature, those being judgemental based on their lack of empathy and being critical in a cruel way. In juniors it often manifests in a different and, I find, more difficult way to deal with, in that juniors who are ultra competitive often become emotional and upset when they are not the best and look for outward reasons for their lack of being at the top. She doesn't like, she was just being mean, she's out to get me, my blockers didn't help me enough, my strategy made more sense. Well, truthfully, I've seen this in the adult league as well but generally you just ignore it (or make minor comments making it clear that it was clean) and it goes away, which is a very different response then is required with youth.

When we look outward for fault it means we are unable or having difficulty finding fault within ourselves. That's an unfortunate way to be. Because we are so full of fault. There will be so many times in our lives where we will have to realize how we screwed something up, and learn from it, and move on. So. Many. Times. I'm only 38 and I don't think I'm a total idiot and I have lost count of how many times I have screwed up. There will be more. I try and learn. I try to improve. I want these girls to know it's ok not to be the best all the time. No one is. And when they are, it is fleeting. That doesn't mean it's not something great to strive for. Being the best, is, well, it's the best. If we can all have that feeling once or twice in our lives, we are lucky, a moment where we know, for real, deep down, that we are the best in that moment, at that thing.

But we still have to be ok with not being perfect, not all the time, at all the things. No one is. We can't allow our competitive nature overshadow a peaceful existence. The peace of knowing you won't be the best at all the things, all the time, and… that's ok. So much better to work to be the best that YOU can be. Better then YOUR best. Pushing to be the most amazing YOU that you are capable of being. That's the most you can ask of yourself. Be the best you.

Hit hard, every time.*

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year, New Blog

Well it's been a year and a half since I have even updated or added to this blog and many things have changed in that time. I must say that reading the last entry I made (in May of 2012!) was very nostalgic and also a nice reminder of how far I have come. It's easy to get caught up in the all the things you can't do, so having a view of the things you no longer suck at (or perhaps suck at less) is great.

So, let us take a little inventory of how things stand now as compared to that last entry. I had just played my first ever game with the Misfit Militia, having just made it into advanced practices and therefore getting rostered on the A team for the first time. I did continue to play with the A team for the rest of that season, getting lots of great experience and learning a lot (I particularly got a lot out of my first tournament (RDAC) that season). I became very involved with running the league, and coaching and training. I began a Grievance Committee and headed it for the league (and still do). I got nominated for League Pres and when it was a draw gave it up to the other choice (he was a good bloke). I still remained very involved on the board and in the runnings of the league.

This season began with my team, the league's A team, leaving the league, in a great time of upheaval for my then teammates and my league mates. I had to make some very, very difficult decisions which still haunt me. The decision about whether to stay or go was based on money (the new team became it's own league and would of course require league fees) and my Junior League's affiliation with the league I started with and my derby needs etc. etc. In the end I decided to stay with my first league (now down an A team) and say goodbye to my Misfits. It made me very sad and is still a sore point for me. I miss playing with those girls.

In the new world of my league (RDD) we needed an A Team and I became involved with that endeavour with others in the league. My juniors have been running along just fine this whole time, we didn't get any games in our first season 2012, but we had two games last season and a number of scrimmages and hope to have even more in the season ahead. I am VERY thankful to have awesome people helping me out as Coaches (Flyin' O'Brien, Keri Daway and Pink Slamminade) and administrative. My derby wife (oh yeah, I didn't used to have one of those either…) Go-Dive-A, is the second in command and she keeps everything organized and makes sure I'm doing what should be done. She also plays with my on the new A Team, the Striking Vikings, which I also Captain. So, it's been quite a trip.

Thinking now that it's been only one and a half years since I played my first game I actually feel a lot better about how I'm doing. I'm still slower then some to get certain skills, but, I remember it being a dream to get 25 laps in 5 minutes and now I'm shooting for 31. It's good to be reminded that hard work does pay off. I read lots about derby to learn to be better and smarter at it, and try hard to be a good coach, which is something I really enjoy doing.

In my fitness world much has changed. I used to try and get to the gym at least twice a week, with derby that would be four workouts per week (it's what I would shoot for) now I am six days a week, and often go the gym even when I have derby. I dream of being very strong and fast. I watch the super fit girl at the gym do pull ups. I want to be able to do pull ups. I have noticed that the super-fit-gym girl has no body fat either. Hahahaha…. I've still got a ways to go, but it's good to have goals.

Well that's it for up dates for now I think. I will be doing more entries about stuff rather then me, if you get my drift, stick around if you're interested. ;)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cherry Popped

My First Game
Well I played my first game with the Misfit Militia this month. I was only on one line and got bumped a number of times due to penalties or strategy plays (using the power jam line) but the moments I was on the track, it was a lot of fun. I got in a couple of decent hits but didn't really feel I had enough time to do too much.

I am very much looking forward to playing a game for real as I will be in two weeks with our house team the Bombshell Battalion. I am on three lines and pivoting as well as blocking. On this team I will not be the weakest link, which will be a really, really nice feeling.

I have to say I did get to feeling a bit down when playing with the Misfits. That is, not when actually playing (or sitting on the bench watching them play) but in the few practices before the game. It was an unfortunate thing that a number of the girls who were rostered were not coming to critical practices (though I was) and those of us who were new who were at practice sort of took the brunt of the anger towards those other players (as we were the players doing things wrong due to our newness/lack of knowledge/lack of skating skills). At least, that is how it felt to me.

Also, I have very good attention skills, and make good eye contact. I think this means sometimes I feel like everything the trainer is saying is being said to me (which may or may not be true). All the critical things anyway. Also, there was a bit of an imbalance of criticism to positive reinforcement and knowing when it is the best time to use either of these.

I am a coach at heart and would really like to see a lot more team think going on, and positive reinforcement. Cause, the thing is, when you suck, you kinda already know you suck. (At least I really do!) So, that doesn't mean that someone can't point out how to improve (showing you where you made your errors), that is important for learning not occur, but someone also needs to be pointing out when you have improved or note the effort that is being made. There is nothing more discouraging then really putting in a big effort and having no positive feedback or acknowledgement of it. It's one of those moments you throw your hands up in the air and think "Why am I even trying".

In any case, I am not usually so sensitive to such things but there has been a lot going on in my life and, you know, I actually do have feelings too. So, what I take away from this is that I am going to try harder now to take the bull by the horns and not feel stupid to speak up more to say things to other players, spread even more positivity than usual.

We have a lot of capable people in our league with some really excellent skill sets I have no doubt we will all continue to grow and learn how to be better in all of our different roles and get even better at being a cohesive team.