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Published on May 7th, 2012 | by DerbyLife

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Derby Heartbreak

By Betty Schnockered

Roller Derby is a harsh mistress. Like any other sport, when the time comes to find out who gets to play and who doesn’t, feelings will be hurt and hearts will be broken. Since derby time makes everything seem like it happened both yesterday and forever ago, my first derby heartbreak feels both fresh and distant, but it was less than a year ago.

A bout was coming up and we were already in the eleventh hour as far as figuring out the roster. We were down to 20 and we could designate a team of 14 plus 4 alternates. After a discussion of how players would be chosen it was determined that the team captains would figure it out and we all skated back to practice while they did their thing.

After the list was read, my heart sank. I knew I wasn’t super awesome, but I thought at least I’d make the roster. Instead I was deemed an alternate, which is a small victory for someone who could barely skate 9 months ago, but my heart was set on making the roster.

Obviously there’s nothing wrong with being an alternate, so I shouldn’t have felt so wronged in that moment. Had I known that it’s rare to make it to a bout without using an alternate, perhaps I wouldn’t have felt so bad. But I didn’t know that yet and this felt like yet another thing that I had just barely missed out on.

Since I’m stoic by nature, it wasn’t that hard to hide my feelings. I wanted to run to my car and cry big crocodile tears into my sweatshirt sleeves, but I had just meandered my way onto the Board, so I reminded myself that I should lead by example. I just blinked a lot and skated around in my sad Charlie Brown stance, acting like the rink floor was suddenly the most interesting thing in the World.

I took about a day to feel sorry for myself, but then reverted to my usual “it could be worse” philosophy. In the scheme of things, if my biggest complaint is not being picked for a team, then I’m living a pretty charmed life. So I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and just go to practice. Life isn’t fair and sports aren’t fair, so I decided to get better so I wouldn’t run into this problem again.
Probably nobody else noticed, but in the practices leading up to the bout I channeled my frustration into skating. It helped when I tried to jam because the gigantic chip on my shoulder decided that I had something to prove. Basically I was thinking, “You don’t think I’m good enough for the team? Well, try and stop me then.” And I discovered that I was a lot more aggressive than I thought I was.

In the end I got to skate in the bout because of some typical pre-bout drama, but the whole experience was still useful. If I’d never been angry, I might never have figured out how to stop worrying about penalties and find my badass switch. Everyone has been on the outside looking in, wondering why they weren’t chosen. The best thing you can do is take some time to feel crappy, and then decide what you are going to do about it and move on. Sure, eat some ice cream and sulk if you need to, but then get your butt back on the track.

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