These lines are my fortress and protectors from a long day’s work, my comfort zone, my discomfort zone, my trials and errors, and my successes and failures.
I look at these lines with purpose at every practice and bout and acknowledge the pride I feel every time I roll across them. I respect what happens on both sides of these lines, because they develop me in each and every aspect of my life, on and off the track. When I roll over these lines, my day is separated: BD, DD, and AD.
Before Derby (BD): I am a wife, a mother, an employee, a teammate, and a captain. I fulfill the responsibilities in my life outside of derby, but derby is always on my mind. Did I hydrate enough? Have I made healthy eating choices? Am I working on a strong, nimble derby body? Am I being a good employee, so that I can afford and continue playing derby? As a co-captain, what sort of administrative or planning needs to be done before practice or scrimmage? Am I being an effective leader for my team?
During Derby (DD): I am an athlete, a teammate, a captain. When I cross those lines, my brain switches gears. All that happened BD is tucked away in a BD compartment waiting its turn to have my attention again. As an athlete, DD is a time for me to challenge myself physically and mentally. I focus on my personal warm up and loosen up my muscles, joints, and I ask myself what my personal goals are during my DD time. Can my old bones still do a Mohawk? Have I conquered my fears of transitioning from skating to toe-stop running back to skating or fast-paced coke bottling? I do my best to observe my own strengths and acknowledge my opportunities for improvements. As a teammate, I also strive to give feedback to my teammates in these same areas. I push and challenge them in ways to help them improve, not to make them feel defeated or down. I work on communication, which not only supports bout-day development, but also fosters a friendship and a respect between me and my fellow teammates. As a captain, DD is the time that I strive to lead not only by examples of having a hard work ethic and strong values, but also by holding my team accountable and being fair to each individual teammate. I observe team dynamics and ask what can be applauded and given kudos, or what needs to be addressed and refined to make the team more cohesive, more supportive, and more successful.
When I roll over those lines for the final time to gear down, After Derby (AD) begins: I feel light and I take time to enjoy the endorphins my body has produced by all my hard work. I exchange encouraging words with my teammates. But most importantly, this is the time of the day that I feel proud of my effort, even if my physical ability isn’t reflective of my desire to learn or master certain skills. AD is a time to reflect on the journey of growing as an athlete, as a teammate, and as an individual outside of the track lines. AD is also the time I take humble pride in what was challenging or conquered during the DD timeframe; it’s the time to take my derby experiences and apply the work ethics, values, accountability, and fairness to whatever else life throws at me.
These lines have purpose. They are my fortress and protectors. They are where my successes and my failures come together. They are representative of my life, both on the track and off.
Bear-a-Cuda is a 40-something skater who still has a lot of spunk in her old lady bones.