There’s No Crying in Roller Derby (Except, for Me, There is SO Much Crying in Roller Derby)

The immortal words of Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own.

I’ve climbed mountains, flipped tires, put out wildfires, and taken skate bits to several tender body parts. I’m totally tough! I am also not a very sentimental person. I don’t get sappy at weddings; in fact, I despise them. I don’t cry about babies or at cute animal videos or those Sarah McLachlan commercials with dogs. I rarely cry during movies (unless it’s The Land Before Time – hello, saddest movie ever!?). But I CRY AT ROLLER DERBY all the time!!! 

The important thing to note is that while I may be physically tough, mental toughness is a whole different game. From sitting on a bench and not playing in an entire bout but remaining a calm, supportive, positive teammate, to being the powerful, reliable jammer who gets put in at the last jam and is expected to turn the score around, and everything in between. Roller derby requires a lot of mental toughness. Sometimes just getting to practice is a huge mental struggle. 

Where are my fellow Frustrated Criers at? I am the captain of the Frustration-Related Crying Team. Frustrated Crying is a vicious cycle. You’re at practice learning a new drill (or maybe it’s an old one that you’ve been working on all season) and NOTHING is going right. You’re trying really hard, but things just aren’t clicking. You’re getting frustrated! You feel like this isn’t working now and it’s NEVER going to work. The world is ending. Your eyeballs are getting hot. Are they wet? F*&%, yes, they are. You’re CRYING! What are you, a BABY? This is ROLLER DERBY practice! Then you get frustrated that you’re Frustrated Crying and the tears just Will. Never. Stop. Your teammates are all like, “It’s okay! We’re awesome! We’ll get this!” Don’t they understand that the world is ending because this drill isn’t working out? More crying. Crying on repeat. Crying on crying on crying. It’s insane. 

(Shout out to teammates everywhere who deal with Frustrated Criers on the weekly! You’re saints!)

What helps, on occasion, is to isolate myself for a moment and try to get my mind somewhere else. Go to a corner of the warehouse, step outside, skate some laps and try to clear my doomsday brain. I’ve also found that closing my eyes and breathing deeply help to calm the manic thoughts that catalyze the Frustrated Crying cycle. Sometimes the only way to get over it is to throw myself back into practice with tears rolling down my face, my lip quivering over my mouth guard, and re-focus my energy to the task at hand.

Just remember that crying in roller derby doesn’t mean you’re an ineffective skater or a bad teammate or that you’re not tough enough. You’re probably pretty awesome. You just might have a harder time processing glitches or finding that positive outlook. I know that I need to keep working on my mental toughness and it will probably always be a goal of mine. Good luck on your journey, fellow Frustrated Criers. 

Perhaps like our hero, Littlefoot, in The Land Before Time, who looks to the treestar as a symbol of hope and perseverance, I should look to the derbystar to instill in me the same confidence and optimism.

Lethal is a skater for the Brawlstars.

Posted on June 22, 2016 .