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Published on May 9th, 2012 | by Lady Quebeaum

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Dried-Out Derby Jerky: Staying Motivated As a Veteran Skater

Much has been written for the new or intermediate skaters out there in derby land. But what about those of us who have been doing this so long we remember practices without helmets and the original WFTDA rule set? Well, this is for you, Grandma. I am also old and therefore qualified to tell you what to do!

Rule number one: Let experience help you keep your cool.

Off the track…

In all likelihood, you did not last this long in derby by letting derby drama get to you. By now you also know the difference between a real issue that can be remedied with proper attention and something that is just not a real problem. This stuff comes in waves, and certainly isn’t unique to your league, or even roller derby for that matter. BUT, if you find yourself getting sucked into something you know is ridiculous, listen to me very carefully here:

GET A REAL PROBLEM.

For serious. If despite your better judgement, experience, and usual calm head you are getting stirred up over something internally, esoterically derby, get your head out of your very veteran ass and look at your life with a wider lens. There may be something going on out there that is what your derby stress is REALLY all about, and you’re letting yourself get stirred up about derby because it’s easier and distracting.

If you haven’t already experienced any of the following, I highly recommend a divorce, a hospitalization, an eviction, job loss, or losing a loved one for some perspective. Take a deep breath and feel free to tell the bearer of whatever the hell it is that is so damn important for you to be upset over that they should find another ear for it. You aren’t the only one who can fix it, if it even needs fixing, and you’ve earned that much after all these years. You’ve likely outlasted a lot of crazy, so keep calm, carry on, and don’t suffer bullshit. It’s someone else’s turn to listen to that mess, and they’re probably perfectly capable of working it out, anyway.

…And on the track…

“Keep calm and carry on” carries over to game play as well. When it comes to competition, old age and treachery can beat youth and enthusiasm every time. I give you Exhibit A, my dad:

Papa Quebeaum is knocking on seventy and still fences competatively. Getting shorter often goes with the territory when we age. Hence, my dad is not as tall as he used to be, but his reach is the same as it was when he was a strapping 21 year old hippie. His fencing opponents are often not wise to this. He gets up from the bench slowly, groans a little, and makes his way to the strip looking calm as hell. While my dad exercises a bit of patience, his opponents get way too close, and pop! The opponent is poked with a sword. I have seen this in action and it is magic. Learn from this. You have been playing longer than a lot of people. You can probably circle the track with a blindfold. Perfect your patience and play smart.

Rule number two: your teammates are excited. DON’T burst their bubbles, and DO cultivate their assets.

Feed off the excitement and enthusiasm. Think back to when you first jumped in a scrimmage and all it felt like was a mob of people going in a circle trying to kill each other. It was probably terrifying, definitely thrilling, and you either loved it or hated it (probably the former if you’re still around to read this). Now take a good look at that newbie’s face as she gets off the track. Tell her what she did right, and watch her smile. Smile back. It’s contagious. When the newer folks have questions or concerns, offer up the advice and knowledge respectfully, and help them see the forest through the trees in game play and league stewardship. They will be happy to have it, and it will ensure the overall longevity and health of your league.

Rule number three: Learn something new.

There is ALWAYS someone out there who can kick your ass or otherwise teach you something. Find them. Skate against them. Learn from the experience. Travel if you can. It’s good for you. Find the thing you can get better at and get better at it. There is always room for improvement, and the game is constantly evolving.

Rule number four: You were young (er) when you started. Respect that, and adjust accordingly.

Maybe now you’re hitting perimenopause. Maybe your teenager made fun of your boutfit. Maybe your teenager’s girlfriend who skates with you made fun of your boutfit. Perhaps your joints are achier than they used to be. All is not lost. Take your vitamins, take the time to warm up, stretch properly, and tape your parts that need taping. See a health professional for things that are problematic, and do it sooner rather than later. Get enough sleep and water. You may now need to work harder to be average than some of the younger skaters have to work to be awesome. If it matters, do it. Your body will thank you beyond derby for taking such good care of it.

Rule number five: If you keep doing it, people like you will keep doing it.

This sentiment has helped keep me around through many ups and downs. I will be damned if I let down all the other zaftig middle aged single soccer moms with crappy cars, fruit tattoos, hard to pronounce names, and graying hair who play roller derby by quitting. Go us.

Rule number six: If it’s still fun and you can still do it, there’s no reason not to.

Really, there isn’t. Pay no mind to anyone who looks at you funny for still being around, even as others move on. It’s yours and you love it. Enjoy it. It’s OK to stick with something you love.

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