Up Close And Personal Cheetahs Never Prosper by Andre Smith

Published on November 8th, 2012 | by Cheetahs Never Prosper


Cheetahs Never Prosper by Andre Smith

Where Derby Dreams Go to Die

Derby loss. Everyone experiences it at some time. Maybe your team lost a crucial game, maybe you didn’t make the roster or it took you 5 tries to pass your assessments. Maybe that girl you thought would be your derby wife turned you down or you lost your derby wife because she retired from derby. Whatever it is, we all face difficulties and disappointments in derby.

My derby loss came with my first chance to make a roster (officially). I had made alternate for a travel team bout a month and a half after I passed my assessments. I was happy to be an alternate. Honored and thrilled that they had even thought of me so soon after becoming a member of the team. Eventually I was asked if I wanted to play for the bout because some of the team had to back out due to family issues and life in general.

I played in my first travel team bout and it was exhilarating! I had made it, even if it was under a technicality. I didn’t play in every jam or as often as the more experienced players but it didn’t matter I was just happy to be there soaking it all in.

After that I knew we had only 2 more bouts in the season and that I would really have to step up my game if I was even going to be considered for one of those. Both of the last travel team bouts were at home which meant most of the rosterable players would be able to make it. Despite the overwhelming knowledge that I was less experienced and less skilled I made it my personal goal to be rostered for one of those last two bouts.

Then an epiphany hit. I wouldn’t be able to be rostered for the November bout because I would be on vacation. Now all of my derby hopes and dreams rested on October. I had to put all of my derby eggs in one basket so to speak.

I made excellent strides in my skills and worked hard every practice. My teammates were noticing, the coach was noticing. I was hopeful that I was proving myself and I knew that I was getting better.

A week before the bout I was reading derby life articles and I saw one about not making the roster. I read it. I hoped it wasn’t trying to tell me something. Rollerderp had a funny post about not being rostered. It was like the heavens were sending down messages preparing me for my derby loss. “Hey Cheetah! Pay attention! You aren’t going to be rostered!” but I ignored them all and remained hopeful.

When that email came with the roster it was a surprise. I squealed about finally knowing my fate. While sitting in the parking lot at work I read the email and…..I was first alternate. My heart sunk. I hadn’t achieved my goals. I had failed! That was the hardest part.

Failure is never easy in life especially when you want something so bad. When you put your heart into something and you work so hard you want to feel that it is worth something and this time all my hard work hadn’t done anything to help me reach my goals.

That’s kind of the way it is. Sometimes we work really hard and we get what we want and sometimes….we don’t. Well this was my time.

It is funny how things work out because my derby loss came quickly after my derby wife’s derby loss. She and I both had even more to bond over. Together we vented about our own personal struggles and hugged, and texted, and chatted and hugged some more over our frustrations. I am lucky I had someone to share my pain with, someone who understood it so well. The thing is her derby loss was harder than mine, she had to do the tot class again.
As we talked about our losses and how we were going to deal with them I said something to her that I realize is something everyone should really consider when it comes to derby, “Well if you don’t love it you can always quit.”

You see derby loss is an important part of derby. If we didn’t have loss in derby then maybe it wouldn’t make each victory feel so sweet. Maybe everyone would want to play derby because it would be easy.

Derby loss separates the winners from the losers. It allows the cream to rise to the top. People who face the loss and continue on despite that loss are better derby players and ultimately better teammates. Derby loss is an opportunity for each of us to prove ourselves and derby loss is a chance for someone to realize that maybe their heart isn’t in derby and they can cut their losses.
Whatever side of the fence you land on, whenever you finally experience your first derby loss just realize that the choice you make isn’t wrong. Sometimes no matter how hard we try we will never be the star jammer or the strategic genius but maybe despite that fact we have still gained something from our experiences.

*I was originally an alternate for the game but due to a player not being able to make the game I was bumped up to the roster.

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