Sunday, June 19, 2011

What's Your Excuse?
I learned last night that one of our coaches is a cancer survivor. She battled that nasty breast cancer like a seagull will fight for the last leftover french fry after a beach picnic.

And she's a bad ass derby coach, a badass blocker, just an all-round badass chick in a positive way. The kind you want for a best friend. The kind that if you're ever in trouble, she'd be the first person you'd want to call because, well just because you know she'd not only know what to do but be willing to do it.

And she's not out there playing the poor-me as a post cancer victim and shit. She's fighting her way through a simple happy existence. And I was inspired when I heard about this and thought - hold your horses now...

I started roller derby just one month shy of my *cough* 45th birthday, about the same time I went and got a scuba diving certification. And know that when you see me walk it is in itself nothing short of a miracle.

I was hit by a car once on foot when I was 8 years old then twice on my bicycle. The first cycling incident was during a bike tour in the Magdalen Islands off Canada's East Coast. I was staring at the sand dunes and how they covered a 7' fence. Somehow I found myself face to face with a car doing 70. Last thing I saw was a 3" Virgin Mary standing on the dash and a string of light blue pompons in the rear view window. And the look of fear and shock on the faces of the young couple staring right back at me. Next thing I knew, I was sitting on the gravel shoulder, my bike thrown over 50 feet away playing hide & seek behind the dunes.

Not a scratch, not a bruise just wicked charlie horses on both legs. But if you'd seen my bike! It's chilling.

Then 2 years later I was riding my bike to a job interview. It was rush hour. Cars were driving at a speed around 50 mph. A cop drives by me and waves. I guess he felt the need to let me know he agreed I was being safe... Then BOOM! I get hit from behind. It looked big and the first thing to go through my mind was "Not again!" and off I went flying over the truck who never even knew he hit me. I landed behind him and lucky me the car following saw me airborne and stopped a mere 3 feet before driving over me.

My memento from this one is a light scar on my knee. Basically unscathed.

I won't even go into the details from when a car literally fell ON me when I was working as a race car mechanic. That broke my finger. And my pride, because it was my own fault for putting myself in that stupid situation in the first place. But still, when a car falls on you, it hurts.

But see, the point is this - why is it that it's always the people who've had this kind of ordeals that go out and DO stuff? But those who sit on their couch all day have a list as long as Santa's shopping needs for excuses as to why THEY don't go out and exercise! Go out and do it. Stop the whining and the excuses.

Sorry. It's not my style to be sermon'y, but I had to get this one out. And the worse thing is I feel I'm preaching to the choir because if you're reading my blog, chances are you're into derby yourself...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lean On Me
I was a race car mechanic prior to moving out here. The entire time I was working on the car I was fully aware I had the driver's life in my hands. One bolt left unchecked could easily leave my guy sitting on a different pair of wheels... This outlook totally changed how I viewed teamwork.

And now? Roller derby is bringing a whole new perspective to what I thought I mastered. In derby you depend so much on your team. Constant communication is a must. It's not about yelling "She's comiiiiiiing!" but about sending a clear message "Jammer on the inside!"

And its about trusting your teammates. Trust when they tell you to slow down, speed up, go to the inside or the outside, etc. It's not like you have time to debate and second guess because by the time you come to say "Well, I thought we'd be better off if" and boom you got slammed by a she-truck or passed by a speedy jammer. Or worst, you let your jammer get slammed. And game over.

Imagine how bad you'd feel if that slam cost your jammer a major injury... Now you know how I felt as a race car mechanic!

This level of teamwork goes beyond Oprah's "You go girl" attitude. It's about knowing your team trusts you because you will not let them down. It's about knowing if your pivot tells you to move forward it's for a sound reason. And then it's tasting the glory of watching your jammer clear the pack because you know you did the right move.

Teamwork. It's much more than those silly black motivational posters. But you'll never really know what it is until somebody you barely know trusts you with their life...