Published on September 7th, 2013 | by Guest Contributor2
Advice to a Junior from a Junior
By Chocolate FeM&M, Gotham Girls Junior Derby
If you are a young lady person from ages 7-17, and have thought about becoming a part of the derby world, my first piece of advice for you would be to go for it. The derby world will change your life and I promise that, here are some words of wisdom for your pondering mind.
1) Just do it! If there is a league near, or starting up by you, get the information. Do some research, talk to a skater or a coach if you can. Then bug the crap out of your parents to sign you up!
2) Don’t be intimidated. If you’re starting out in a league that has already been around for some time, don’t be scared. Just remember that every one of your teammates had to start somewhere. Even if you look like Bambi on ice, its ok; you are learning new skills and they expect you to look like a floppy hot mess. As long as you show up and skate your butt off they will accept you. They won’t care if you banana peel every five seconds; you’re trying. Laugh it off and keep smiling, doll face.
3) Don’t be so hard on yourself. You will have a bad practice…or two…or seventy-five. It happens to all of us. Don’t beat yourself up over the things you “can’t” do. Nothing will get done! Things will get frustrating, and when they do, the best thing to do, is to momentarily remove yourself from the situation and breathe (Or chant a weird word of choice. (The Gotham juniors go with “Cucumber”)). If you feel like you’re going to explode, talk to a coach or a teammate. They are there to help if you feel you aren’t quite grasping a drill, or had a bad jam. Sometimes you need another person there to get you out of your head to talk about how to fix the problem, instead of obsessing over it. Have a ten second dance party, spin in a circle, twerk, jump on your toe stops, cry a little, squeeze all your muscles, hug somebody. Do anything you can in that moment of self-doubt to make it go away. Once you’re in a good mindset, try it again…and again. You eventually will grasp it and feel like an awesome zesty individual to know that you stumbled over a mental obstacle and said, “Suck it! Brain, now I can jump the apex!”
4) Don’t be too cocky. Everybody knows that no one likes an asshole. So don’t be that person who holds herself over everyone else, and thinks that they are the next up and coming love child of Bonnie Thunders and Suzy Hotrod (Buzy Totrod…?) Even if you are, it never hurts to be humble. You will get much more respect amongst the derby community if you pull a Gandhi, and walk amongst your fellow people with the same positive mentality and a smile J. There is a difference between self-confidence and self-righteousness. If you feel you did a good jam, or nailed a drill; do a little victory dance, put on a big dorky cheese face, and be done with it. Don’t drag it out and rub it in peoples face expecting loads of compliments, that’s not cute. You’re on a team; there are a lot of other feelings from different people floating around. Don’t stop the whole production because you broke through the wall right when the whistle blew. Have some decorum miss lady.
5) Practice makes perfect. Practice Practice Practice!! That’s the only way you can get to where you want to be skillwise. No amount of wishing, praying or dreaming will get you to improve as much as practice does. Unless you are dying, or you have a project due the next day for school, and you haven’t started it yet, get your butt to practice. It’s not fair to yourself or to your teammates if you don’t show up because you want to go to a party, or have supper snuggle time with your boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s not fair. The only way to win a bout is if everyone is on the same page, practice as a team helps to get everyone there. If you’re a no show to helping your team, people start to question your loyalty. Don’t have people questioning your loyalty. Haul butt to practice and soak up the knowledge with your people.
6) It’s not about fishnets and booty shorts. By this, I’m not telling you not to wear your favorite derby skinz, or your new hot pink tights. That kind of stuff makes this sport unique and fun. Do whatever floats your boat, and makes you feel confident. What I mean is, don’t be in it for the outfits and the tough names, or for the sake of calling yourself a “roller girl”. It’s not fair to your team that is giving it their all in order to achieve greatness. But mostly, it’s not fair to you. You’re limiting your derby exposure to the superficial stuff when you should be getting into the technicality of it all. I mean, if the sparkles give you the push to sign up, then more power to you. But don’t be closed off to the rest that derby has to offer.
7) R-E-S-P-E-C-T. This is a biggie in my mind. Respect keeps the world in orbit; it’s a very important component to all sports (especially one full of women!)
The main things ya’ll have to respect no matter what, are; your coaches: they taught you everything you know; they’re like your mom(s). They only have your best interest in mind. The adult league: These are your role models/big sisters/ mamas. They are seasoned in the derby world and can teach you a thing or two, so be nice. You could be their teammate one day. Your gear: this stuff keeps you safe and keeps you rolling! Don’t treat it like crap, you should worship it! Your body: think of your body as a car, don’t feed it trash, because then you can’t perform to your highest level. Eat some greens and do some sit-ups! Take it easy off the track. You need to stay intact and sane. You’re not 21, don’t act like it (you know what I’m talking about here). Lastly, your teammates: yes you get to hit these people at practice but they are your friends…basically family. Treat others how you want to be treated.
8) Balance. As I have recently found out, derby has taken over my life. I don’t mind, but my parents do, so do your homework and see some non-derby friends from time to time. Happy parents, happy life. (In a couple of years you can do what ever you want, but for now, you must please the dictators if you want to live).
9) $Cash Money$. All of this cost money! Classes (monthly dues) Skates, uniforms, pads, athletic clothes, trips, tickets to games, extra stuff that you “need” (like schwings) transportation to practice and back (unless you have a car. In which case I hate you because the subway sucks). I recommend getting a job so you don’t have to ask your parents for money every time you need something. It actually feels good knowing that you support yourself in something that you enjoy doing. You feel more independent knowing that if your parents get mad and try to take your skates, you can say, “YOU CAN’T TAKE THAT I PAID FOR IT!!” and it will be true, and you can smirk at that. But if you’re a little nugget and it’s not legal for you to work yet…keep it cheap my friend, unless your parents are as dedicated as you are, or have lots of money.
10) Have Fun! Derby is a serious sport. We do burpies, planks and squats. We have uniforms and team meetings and games. But if you take anything too seriously you go crazy. So have fun with it because that’s what life should be about. Being focused and ready, but with the flip of a switch laugh, a little; It’s good for you. We are young; choosing to play derby at 15 was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my vast 16 years of life. Now I have a permanent web of Gotham girls from ages 10 to 40 that I can go to with anything. I feel safe both on and off the track because these girls got my back, and I have theirs. That’s what derby is, knowing that there are at least four people that are going to help you get through a tough situation (like a wall of opposing blockers). All in all, go for it! Be confident in you skills but eat some humble pie from time to time. You’re learning, so don’t get frustrated and practice practice practice! Wear what you please but remember what you’re there for. Respect makes the world go round. Also, do your homework and get a job. Lastly, if you feel down on yourself because you think you’re never going to get better, and you won’t listen to anyone’s words of positivity, just know at the very least that I, and the rest of our junior derby sisters, believe in you, and your ability to become something remarkable.