I’m officially retired and it’s been an interesting transition. My goal was to taper myself off of practices (just like the junkie I am) and slowly switch over to reffing. Honestly, it hasn’t been the easiest thing to do; I’m basically walking away from eight years of one of the most exciting hobbies I’ve ever had, but life without change becomes boring and stale. Even though I’m shifting my focus to a different part of derby, I still have goals in derby.
- Be more like Tim Gunn from Project Runway. During my derby path change, I’ve had more time to binge watch shows I missed due to weekly practices. One of my faves, is Project Runway, and I finally was able to see the most recent season. It’s not possible to talk about how amazing Tim Gunn is, and how calm he is when a designer is in full freefall and definitely headed in the wrong direction; he gives his opinion, tries to guide the designer to a better path, but eventually falls back to his “make it work” catch-phrase. Ultimately, he leaves the final decisions in the designer’s hands and walks away. The other day a former teammate came to me complaining about some drama happening in the league. I just said “make it work” and skated away. Staying out of drama has been so much easier since I’ve stepped back from the league, and it’s made daily interactions with people so much better! Having a personal issue with another team member? “Make it work.” Or don’t, because it’s no longer on me to ensure the success or failure of my league. I’m here to help, but ultimately, the league has to find its own way.
- Try and keep my derby butt from turning back into my “noassitol” butt. I wouldn’t mind losing some of the derby weight I’ve managed to gain over the eight years, but I don’t relish the thought of my hard-won derby butt disappearing. My butt will never launch a thousand memes or be nominated to be bootylicious, but I had no butt at all when I joined derby; before derby, I could comfortably wear men’s jeans. Even though clothes shopping has become a little more complicated due to having a butt, I would miss it terribly if it deserted me completely. I am trying to keep the dream going by getting back into speed skating and doing squats, but squats aren’t really challenging at this point. Which brings me to my next resolution.
- Find something else that I like to do to work out. Running is not for me. I only enjoy running if I’m chasing down the local ice cream truck in the neighborhood; it feels like suffering and death and doom, and did I mention suffering? Many of my friends run for fun, and I totally salute them for it, but unless a zombie horde is chasing me down, you probably aren’t going to see me running anytime soon. I’ve started going to speed skating practice again, but two hours of skating a week isn’t enough for someone used to doing five times that much. I’ve had offers from people involved in various fitness activities to come and join them for an intro class; so far on the list is dragon boating, martial arts, and boxing. Hopefully, I will find something fun and exciting, but also something that won’t eat all of my free time.
- Try not to over-schedule myself. It’s been eight years since I had free time. Seriously, every minute I wasn’t busy with home or work, was spent on the sport. It’s strange having free time, and I find it difficult to shake that feeling of “I need to be somewhere right now.” Last night The Ish (another retired teammate) and I went to open skate and talked about how unsettling it is to not have most of your time scheduled for practices and derby obligations. We both feel like we’re unmoored and drifting a bit. It’s easy to try and do everything, now that I have more freedom in my schedule. At this point, I’m just sampling different activities to see what draws me in. If I could find a quad hockey league, I’d be all over that like something on something.
- Pass on some knowledge to the new skaters. Because I have more time, I can pay it forward with the newer skaters; this month I’m doing a skate maintenance class for all comers. For a couple of years, our league was lucky enough to have two great skate maintenance gurus, Chad the Destroyer and Glen McGregor. They both taught me a lot about bearings and my plates. I still go to Glenn with any questions I have about sizing, gear opinions, and skates. Glenn and Chad gave me the courage to take my plates apart and not be afraid that I was royally screwing up the most expensive footwear I’ve ever owned. I want all skaters to understand their skates, and not be afraid to do general maintenance on them. Now that I’m not pouring everything into competitive play, I will have more time to help newer skaters in general, including helping teach the basic skills classes or helping folk navigate the complicated world of derby protective gear. Now that I don’t have the duty to put most of my time towards the All-Stars, I can help out more, and enjoy it!
- Try and balance and heal my body. After going left for so long, I am working on getting my body balanced again. When I was skating competitively, I was constantly working on trying to undo the damage derby was doing to my body, but that’s a losing battle if you don’t stop the damaging behavior in the first place. The first thing I’ve noticed is that my toenails are finally starting to grow normally! It’s the little victories that keep me going!
- Have fun on eight wheels. After being immersed in the world of competitive play, I really do just want to have fun. My ref mentor, Tripp N Dale, told me that is the most important part of being a ref. If it isn’t fun, then why do it? Skating is fun, but I’m ready to do it without the added stress of worrying about league obligations. It’s nice not to worry about league hours, finances, rankings and attendance and just concentrate on learning to ref. I am taking reffing seriously, but I’m not going to be up at night worrying about it the way I did with playing derby.
- Try to start a USARs team in North Carolina. Yes, I said USARs and I said TEAM, not LEAGUE. I’m interested in going fast in derby; I miss the speed of it and I like the rules better when it comes to direction of gameplay. I started derby in 2009, and when I took the USARs clinic from the Chicago Redhots this year, I fell back in love with the game. Will the team actually happen? Maybe. If it does, it will be very casual for a while, like a drop-in team or pick-up situation. If it doesn’t go any further than that, I’ll be ok with it; I’m concentrating on the things that make me happy and not stressed out.I’m also not getting involved in the whole FIRs/WFTDA debate. Play the version that you like best. Back in 2011, I took a class at Rollercon where the instructor gave us some sample moves from different rulesets; she had a final message for us that you should try different rulesets just to see what is going on in the other parts of the derby community, and I was finally able to sample a different rule set, and I liked it. Maybe you will like it too.
Or maybe not.
“Make it work.”