Tag: perseverance

Monday Motivation: The Power of Yet

By Wild Violet

Early on in my Roller Derby journey, one of my trainers introduced me to the power of using the word “yet” when I came up against a skill or drill I could not do.

“I can’t do a stutter stop!”
“You can’t do a stutter stop YET.”

Adding that one word to the end of any frustrated statement helped to transform my outlook. I didn’t completely stop feeling frustrated when I hit walls, but I regained optimism that I would eventually scale over them.

The language we use can be powerful. The words we say inside our heads when we try something and struggle have the ability to hinder us further in our progress or give us a push to keep going.

“I can’t do it.”
“I suck at this.”
“I’m not good at this skill.”
“My body doesn’t work that way.”

Are we telling ourselves things we wouldn’t dream of saying to another skater? What if we change these types of thoughts?

“I can’t do it-YET.”
“I haven’t mastered this-YET.”
“I’m not good at this skill-YET.”
“My body doesn’t work that way-YET.”

See the difference?

We can only progress by trying-and sometimes failing-first. Forget what Yoda said, try and try again. In all new things we do, we need to put in the work to get where we want to go. We may not be there-YET-but moving forward is the only way to get there.

The next time that Negative Nelly voice in your head starts criticizing you, remember the power of language and turn it around. Look how far you have come already, and instead of seeing the road ahead as long and daunting, see it as an epic journey to be conquered. Each drill, practice, scrimmage, or bout is part of the adventure.

Don’t ever allow the one stopping you from getting there to be you. Change your language, and you can change your derby experience. 

Confessions of a (Nearly) 50 Year-Old Derby Girl: Hard Skating? Just Skate Hard


Learning to skate as an adult seems a lot harder than when I first put skates on about a hundred years ago. For one thing, my bones and muscles and joints don’t have that wonderful rubber band quality any more. Also, my skull has a lot farther to go when I transition rapidly from upright to horizontal.

I am thankful for muscle memory that spans the decades and allows me to remember how it feels to skate. But through those decades I accumulated some physical deficiencies that keep me on–or rather, off–my toes.

The toe-torturing skill that tends to get the best of me is called a stutter stop, specifically a left stutter stop. To execute you start by assuming the ever-praised low derby stance: “boobs up, butt down”. With burning quads, shift your weight to your right leg, reach your left foot out in front of you and–while maintaining the low derby stance and your balance–you tap your left foot, toes inward, on the floor in a “stutter” to bring yourself to a stop. Right!

It’s a challenging skill, and one I can do in a reasonable fashion with my right foot, however, my left foot hates it and I get instant toe curling cramps.

Last week, it seemed that everything I did caused my foot to cramp. I would start a skill, get a cramp, skate it off and try again. Eventually, I wound up on the bench, battling the abusive monologue of my inner mean girl. Shall I give her a name? Okay, let’s call her Joy Kill’r.

Kill’r is a relentless bitch. I’ll admit, she has made me cry more than a time or two. She says some pretty hurtful things. Last week, her rant went something like, “You’ve already fallen apart so many times. Why put yourself through the humiliation of doing it again? You know you’re not going to make it, sweetheart.” It’s crazy how she knows exactly what my fears are.

Lucky for me, Havoc was there on the bench, too. We chatted for a few minutes; she provided counter arguments to Kill’r’s diatribe. And for my part? Well, I may have gotten a little emo about the whole thing. (Insert sniffling sound here.) I halfheartedly heeded Havoc’s pep talk, got up, and tried a few more skills, still babying my foot, still feeling deflated.

By this time, practice was nearly over. Only one thing left on the agenda. That’s right, endurance skate! I cringed a little when Sugar Baby announced it, even though I knew it was coming. Perhaps I inwardly whined a little about endurance skating at the END of practice. (Because derby is all about making things easy, right?) I didn’t want to sit it out on the bench, but I sure didn’t want to skate only two minutes and have to bail. Dilemma!

I decided to compromise with myself and also stop whimpering about stuff being hard. I would bench Joy Kill’r and her stupid mouth and skate, but not full throttle.

I haven’t yet reached the elusive 27/5. My best is only 24. I was thinking that night it was probably going to be more like 18-20 if I was lucky, but I wasn’t even going to count. No sense giving Kill’r any ammunition.

The whistle blew and I started skating.  I focused on two things: not popping up in the turns and hitting the points of the diamond. I started skating and I began getting that skate buzz. My crossovers were smooth. My focus was good. I was finding all the holes on the crowded track. Next thing I knew I was nearly keeping pace with some of the Scrimmage girls. My low back was fatigued but not burning. I was breathing hard but not gasping for breath. It felt amazing! At four minutes I was still feeling winded but strong. At five I felt exhausted and fantastic.

I didn’t count my laps. I don’t even want to know what my count was. It felt like I did my 27 just because I could feel I was doing more of the right things than I had ever been able to do before, and that was progress. That night, I got to go home knowing that I showed Joy Kill’r it was MY track.  

Sometimes derby is more about what’s going on in your head than what’s going on with your body. We all have our struggles. That’s easy to forget when you’re wiping your nose on the bench. But Joy Kill’r is not the boss. I’ll try to remember that. You try too.

Monday Motivation-Avoid the Bench Trap!

By Wild Violet


When I joined the Androscoggin Fallen Angels back in spring of 2016 I had no skating experience or athletic prowess to speak of. Sure, I do yoga once in a while and I am pretty flexible. But most of my time was spent sitting on my rump, making art or reading books. I never considered myself an “athlete”. I wanted to change that.

I saw a recruitment post on Facebook about the local roller derby league and attended an info session. While I sat there, observing their practice with info packet in hand, listening as the Angels told us about the league and what practices were like, I found myself wanting to jump right down off the balcony, strap on some skates, and join them. I filled out the paperwork, got my gear and insurance, and felt ready to roll.

A couple of weeks later I showed up for my very first practice, scared out of my mind and thinking to myself that I was insane for showing up and thinking I could do this. Looking around, I could see that I wasn’t the only brand new, “bambi-on-ice” skater. Several others were struggling to stay on their feet as well and I found that comforting. But as practice went on, it became clear that the years of roller skating I did as a kid were not going to translate into picking this derby skating stuff up quickly. This was friggin’ hard!

Practice after practice I showed up anyway. When we did the off-skates workouts, I huffed and puffed my way through. (Wait, what? Jogging!? Burpees!? Ugh, OK.) When it was time to lace up my skates and get out on the track for drills, I wobbled through every one. Yes, I did glance at the clock to see just how much longer I had to endure. I looked at that clock a LOT.

But what I didn’t do, the thing I avoided like the plague, was sit on the bench.

You see, on day one, as I drove myself to that first practice, I made a deal with myself. I agreed that unless I got injured, I was not going to sit my ass on the bench and watch. I wasn’t going to be a watcher anymore, I was going to be a doer. I knew I wasn’t going to be the best skater, I wasn’t going to be the strongest, the fastest, or the most agile. I knew from the get go that roller derby was going to take a lot of falling and failing on my part before I got good at it. But I also knew that I had to make it through that period of falling and failing, and I couldn’t do that while sitting down.

My personal rule was: You have to try everything and you can’t sit out.

And so, week after week, I went, I skated, and I improved. I eventually stopped huffing and puffing so much. I eventually stopped guffawing at the idea that I could be an athlete. I eventually stopped glancing at the clock every fifteen minutes.

And one magical day, the trainers called out that practice was over, and I found myself not only in disbelief that those two hours had flown by so fast, but also wishing that it wasn’t over and I didn’t have to take my skates off and go home. I was having so much fun that the desire to stop never popped up and I never had to remind myself of my personal rule.

Derby magic.

No, Derby Perseverance.

We all have different limitations and strengths. When we start something new, the person next to us might excel more quickly at it, and it may come to them more easily. In this case, it is tempting to tell oneself that we just aren’t cut out to do that thing, or that we aren’t ready. And that bench looks damn inviting. But the bench can become a habit.

It isn’t a bad place. I’ve had to sit there more than a few times when I’ve been healing a sprained knee or a pulled muscle. At those times the bench is a place to observe and do the mental work, learning by watching. The important thing is not to allow the bench to invite you to avoid pushing yourself out of your comfort zone enough to grow.

Julie Andrews said: “Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.”

In order to get to that 20th time, you have to push yourself through the first 19. And that means avoiding that bench.


Confession of a (Nearly) 50 Year Old Derby Girl: Living Out Of Control

One of the few things you can count on in life is that it will change, absolutely and without question. I like to say that I embrace the idea of change and I frequently seek change. But, I will also admit that I fight for control of change, and that is where my wheels usually come off.

I love to learn, and experience, and grow. But I don’t always grasp that it’s the things I can’t control that bring the most profound and valuable life experiences. I’m usually too busy trying to make them stop, or at least force them to submit to my will. Let me share how this might translate into derby life.

You decide to join a roller derby team which means you gotta learn how to skate. You strap eight tiny wheels to the feet that you have navigated for most of your life without conscious thought and then, well, you roll. Simple.

You envision that you’re going to glide smoothly across a glossy slick floor and go from point here to point there. And you’re going to do that in an upright and graceful state.

Suddenly, the feet, legs, butt, and arms that you routinely ignore as you push your cart down the grocery aisle or walk down the stairs are all in a panic, fighting for control. They yell at you to take charge, to use your brain to prevent them suffering some serious damage.

This is when you begin to realize two things simultaneously. A. You’re about to fail. And B. You hope like hell you don’t.

Fear driven determination kicks in and, with clenched fists and gritted teeth, you will yourself to stay vertical. After all, people are watching and your sense of self preservation and dignity is well developed and almighty.

You become acutely conscious of each action. You fight for control of everything. Toe stop down,  gingerly push. Roll forward. Teeter. Wobble. Accelerate. Make undignified whimper noises. Realize that starting was the easy part before you bend your knees, lean forward, wobble some more. Whimper louder and use your toe stop to try to stop. Hope you are actually stopping. Pirouette around toe stop and manage to keep your balance before coming to a tenuous stop. The trainer blows her whistle signaling to everyone to gather around her. Teeter. Thank goodness you happen to be stopped in the right place. Heave a sigh of relief as you stand, vertical status intact, and take a quick glance around at the cluster of women who have all just danced the same dance as you, aaaaand…

Wham! Suddenly, you’re looking up at the legs and butts of those same women. You never even felt it coming. Those sneaky, greasy, lowdown, $@&#% wheels slipped skyward and you found yourself instantly on your ass. You were just standing there, minding your own business and now you’re sprawled on the floor like your drunk Aunt Mitzi at every family wedding. But that’s not all. You’re about to have a derby lesson about the illusion of control.

First, you haven’t experienced that kind of pain on your backside since you fell off the monkey bars in third grade. Second, you may or may not be able to breathe. Third, various body parts are calling you ugly names. But, the worst, most mortifying thing of all, is your timid, wallflower bladder is cowering “Sorry, guys. I just couldn’t hold it!” Are you serious?

Now you have a decision to make about your so called control. You can unlace your skates and hightail it to the ladies and do some bladder damage control. You can pull up your hoodie, throw on your Foster Grants, grab your gear and control yourself right out the back door.

Or, you can stand up, own your uncomfortably moist situation, and make a mental note to be prepared for future episodes of derby PMS (Peed MySelf).

You can accept that falling happens, that eventually you’re going to get hit, and that it’s probably going to hurt. You can decide to look forward to your first derby kiss and hope that it’s a lovely dark purple so you can show all your friends how badass you are. You can decide that it’s okay that you’re not in control. Yet.

Falling on your ass hurts. It’s a complete and utter lack of control. It’s humiliating, but the first time is the worst. It does get better. But if you embrace the pain and the failure you’ll be rewarded with something priceless that comes from inside you.

Falling means you’re pushing, you’re persisting, you’re persevering. It means you’re finding the thrill of the skill every 

time you push yourself off the floor. It means that soon you’ll know what it feels like when you skim over the floor. You will know the feel cool air on your hot, salty face as you push to do your 27/5. You’ll get to feel a body buzz when you nail a killer turn around toe stop in your new, powerful and (dry) upright derby stance. No one can give that to you but you. And no one can take it away.

Life has a way of throwing some pretty brutal hits. You can be standing there minding your own business and then, without warning, you’re on your ass, and it hurts like hell and you wonder “What the hell just happened?” Maybe you need to take the bench, catch your breath, and pull yourself together. You can even hit the ladies to change your shorts. But, then you have to decide, are you going to sneak out the back door, play it safe, try and get control of the uncontrollable? Or are you going to get back up, live out of control and skate?

Confessions of a (Nearly) 50 Year Old Derby Girl: Falling

One of the great side effects of derby is increased confidence. Each time I get on skates I am nervous. I feel inadequate. I feel a little intimidated. Then I start to feel the wheels, and my legs warm up and my heart starts beating and I stop thinking about what I can’t do because I am focusing on what I am being challenged to do. I am skating forward. Awesome. I am picking up some speed. Hurray. My crossovers are smoother and more rhythmic. Yippee. And then, a new skill is introduced and suddenly I am skating backward or doing transitions or sliding to a stop on my toes, and each new skill that is introduced brings a momentary slight panic that it’s something I can’t do. But then the next thing I know, I am listening to the trainer or a vet give me pointers, breaking everything down, and making it look so easy. All I can do is focus, listen, and try it and then, ta-da! I fall on my ass. I get up. I stumble through it. Maybe I fall on my ass again. But, eventually, it comes.

So, here’s the amazing thing. Falling on my ass has been one of the best things in the world for me. Because, when I fall on my ass, there are a team full of girls there saying “Great fall! You’re really pushing yourself!” and they really mean it. Falling in derby means you’re learning. It means you’re living. And it means that you can take the bump and get up and keep going.

Something happens when you hit the floor and you bite it hard. Hard enough to rattle your bones. Hard enough to make you pee your pants. You feel pain, and sometimes it is a lot of pain. I have fallen so hard my legs turn to jelly when I stand back up again and it takes a few minutes to skate it off. But those things are just a part of it. Taking a digger, feeling the pain, and getting back up again triggers an emotional and mental response that I have never experienced before, and it’s the reason any derby girl will proudly show her “derby kisses”. You begin to feel your strength. For me that was a feeling I didn’t recognize and it is addicting. You begin to understand your personal power when you get up, shake it off, and get back to work. You skate the practice out, finish crusty, salty, achy, tired, and triumphant. There is a high that I feel after a good practice, when I have made it through the whole thing and did something I didn’t know I could do. That feeling has filtered through derby practice and has started affecting the way I feel when I am not on skates. It feels good. It feels like something I have missed my whole life. If I take nothing else away from derby, that in itself is priceless.