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Published on September 2nd, 2011 | by Scar


Mind The Gap: “Aging Up” Gracefully

Now is a great time to be a junior derby girl. Since the sport itself is relatively new, junior leagues are still just beginning to sprout up, and the JRDA (Junior Roller Derby Association) didn’t even form until 2009; meaning many leagues are seeing their first round of graduates “aging up” from junior derby to adult derby.

This can be an exciting, albeit scary, experience for those of us who are on the cusp- 17ish years of age (for leagues that are 18 and up). I myself am undergoing the transition from “junior derby girl” to just “derby girl” and have found that it really isn’t something that happens overnight, it’s a process. If you’re like me, and excited as all get out to even skate in the presence of the women you’ve looked up to since you started; then it’s something you begin mentally- and hopefully physically!- preparing for as soon as you reach the home stretch- the final year of junior derby.

I like to think of this transition as a gap. Not only because you’re reaching that “gap” age where you may not be the jr. girl you were when you started, but you’re not an adult player yet either, socially and otherwise the dynamic changes. Also you’re “stepping over” in a way from one derby experience to another one- and while they are both awesome, they are pointedly different. So here, my fellow teen/young adult hybrids, are some tips I’ve found useful in “minding the gap”. (in no particular order)

1. Pick a role model.

This is not just good for your physical training but your mental training as well (also- you don’t have to be aging up to start practicing this!) Find a Derby player who is wherever you want to be (your leagues travel team jammer, your home teams star blocker, your leagues hardest working fresh meat, whomever) and observe. Watch watch watch. Not just them but their team as well; how they all interact, what strategies are utilized, even down to the minutia such as when they take their water breaks. This aids mentally in that you will feel better prepared, their world will seem less foreign, and you’ll (hopefully) look like less of a noob. It can change you physically if you start mimicking them. How low do they get? What pace do they keep during endurance? Et cetera, et cetera.

2. Attend league functions.

(as you are able given age restrictions)
If you can help, do it. If you’re invited to an event, go.
Simple as that. Getting involved will get you geared up for your new role as a bona fide adult member of the league.

3. Push yourself.

Hopefully you were doing this already, but if not, push yourself, and when you think you can go no more, push harder. Sometimes (especially in junior derby where there is a wide array of ages) it’s easy to slack off because you know you can be successful based on size and age alone. Not so when you reach adults. They are more experienced than you, and many will be bigger than you. Stop judging yourself using those newer and younger than you as your measuring stick, start using who you hope will soon be your peers, and most of all just work to the best of your ability.

4. Don’t get frustrated.

When you do start training with the adults, don’t be frustrated if it feels you’re back to square one. New learning curves can be tough, and even discouraging, but don’t let it be. Focus not only on where you have to go but also how far you’ve come.

On days where I feel like I simply am not cutting it, I think of how I felt the first day of derby. I couldn’t skate at all. I didn’t even know what a derby skate looked like. I fell every 10 feet. But I always got back up smiling, because I was playing derby, doing something I loved. If you have come from a place similar to mine, and are now aging up and beginning your adult derby career- How remarkable is that?

Then once your done with the warm fuzzies and your motivation is renewed- don’t allow it to go to your head. Refocus your energy on your goals- aaaannnd push yourself harder.

5. Don’t forget who you are/were, and where you came from.

In all the excitement over becoming an adult one must remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your time spent in juniors laid the groundwork for the lean mean derby machine you are now.
Don’t forget all of your friends and teammates, don’t brush them off as if you are too cool/old/good/or whatever, for them now. Don’t be scared or too upset either though, you’ll get to know a whole new group of awesome women in no time; but don’t allow the fact you are a bit older change your entire demeanor.

While a compliment from a derby girl I idolize may have left me with stars in my eyes, hearing from a new, young junior that I was HER idol left me with tears, and was truly the best compliment I could ever receive.

So all in all just keep in mind: those women you longed to be, and mimicked, and watched intently, you may be that player to a younger or more inexperienced junior derby girl. With that comes responsibility: be humble, be helpful, and kick some ass!

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