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Published on February 13th, 2012 | by Hot Quad


The Pursuit of Derbyness: Disappointment

“This is the hardest part of my job…”

I was sitting at a table across from my coach, one on one. I wasn’t sure that I could describe the expression on his face. Resignation? Encouragement? Disappointment? I knew what was coming. Today was the day he was letting the women on our training team know who was eligible to be picked up by a house team and who needed more time. If he’d started the conversation like that, it could really only end one way.

What do you do in that moment when you’ve been owned so hard that the world stops and you forget how to breathe? I know all the platitudes and I’ll bet you do to. “Keep your chin up.” “Keep trying.” “This is about the journey, not just the destination.” The problem is that none of that means anything when your heart is broken. Rational thought process has about as much effect on emotional response as trying to dissipate a cloud of steam with a bow and arrow.

I went out to scrimmage that night thinking that the best thing to do would be to soldier on, undeterred. However, the sadness proved unshakable. I couldn’t clear my head so instead I was distracted. I couldn’t get out of anyone’s way, experienced the true meaning of the term “sternum check” and found out what it’s like to get kicked in the head. The whole thing was so tragic that now it actually seems kind of funny. In retrospect, it might have been better just to sit down for a minute.

The past two weeks of ups and downs have brought me to the following conclusions about derby disappointments. Whether it’s a lost game, a bad practice, or having been passed over for your team or roster, I hope that these will help to ease the pain:

1. Put yourself on a 24-48 hour Facebook hold. Going to the Internet when you’re freshly upset is like professing your love to a one night stand just because you happen to be naked and sweaty and it feels right. You’re not in the kind of emotional space that allows you to make intractable statements with good judgment. That doesn’t mean that you don’t get to talk about it. You should hash it out. Just do it live and in person with people you trust enough not to repeat what may just be a lot of steam.

2. Allow yourself to really feel the pain. Pretending that it’s not there will not make it go away. Actually, pretending that it’s not there will probably prolong it. As a general rule, human beings have similar emotional reactions to disappointment. You’re not exempt just because you’re a bad ass who strikes fear in the heart of her competitors and shakes iron flakes on her Wheaties. It’s OK to scream or cry.

3. Take a break. I don’t mean that you need a month off after a loss but now might be a good time to reconnect with people you haven’t seen a while. Maybe you can skip one or two non-mandatory derby events and just chill. Get out of town for a day. Time away is a great way to remember how much you love this sport so when you do come back, it’s with a fresh perspective.

4. While it’s true that you can’t move on until you deal with it, that doesn’t give you license to wallow endlessly in misery and pain. At some point your effectiveness as a skater and person is determined by your ability to shake it off and continue your journey. Remember all the things you’ve done and will continue to do well. Find the courage to ask the hard questions about what went wrong and decide what you’re going to do about it.

Keep your chin up. Keep trying. It’s about the journey, not just the destination.

Want to pursue more derbyness? Check out my new blog at

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