Posted by: thebarbarianlibrarian | November 10, 2010

Why I’ve become a flake when it comes to derby practice….

I entirely can’t stand flaky people, but really from the outside, that seems to be what I’ve become when it comes to derby practice anymore these days. Yes, I may be full of excuses, but I think I have some decent ones, and feel compelled to share, and then hopefully you’ll understand what’s going on with me and won’t place me in that much-loathed flaky people category…..

Anyway, here are the top 6 reasons you haven’t seen me at practice much anymore…..

1) The commute. It takes me about an hour to get to our practice warehouse in the winter, and about an hour and a half in the summer. On the bright side, the drive home is usually only fifty minutes (ha!), but the reality is that it sucks and eats up a ton of gas money.

2) The timing. I get off work at 5pm a lot of days, but 6 or 6:15pm one or two days a week, and 8:15pm every Monday. Practice starts at 7pm, as in I’m supposed to be geared up and ready to go at 7pm. That gives me approximately 45minutes up to 2 hours to get home from work, eat something, feed my pets, let the dog out, change, fill my water bottles and grab all my gear, drive up to practice, and get my gear on (obviously some days that’s impossible). Practices are usually 2 to 2.5 hours, then I have to take my gear off and drive back home. I usually don’t get back until 10:30ish and then I’m exhausted, hungry, and still sweaty. Basically if I decide to go to practice, it’s a 5 hour commitment on top of throwing everything else in my day off. Practice days fluctuate, and my work schedule fluctuates based on need, and in a perfect world, my work would have me stay til at least 6 every day. Practice used to be later at night, and really 8pm+ would make a huge difference for me, but you gotta do what everybody else wants….

3) Motivation. For the longest time after starting derby I had perfect attendance. Granted, there were fewer practices a week and they started later at night, but I wanted to improve and I was freshly in love with the sport. Things started to go downhill over a year ago when I seriously messed up my knee and both shoulders. It meant a lot of pain, and it they took forever to heal. I started to miss practices in hopes that the rest would help. Finally everything healed (we’re talking months and months later) and between that and the off season I got really out of shape, and practices became more about struggling to keep up rather than getting better. However at the beginning of this last season, I made the Harbor Hellcats, our B team, and committed to attending practice and getting better. Things were going pretty decent in my mind, I had my struggles, ack turn-stops!, and while I wasn’t a star on the endurance front I could keep up fine unless we were doing really intense drills or racing. The first bout of the season rolled around, and I thought as one of the few players on the team who had actual bouting experience, I’d be on the rooster. It wasn’t just me, other people thought so too. But when the rooster was announced, I wasn’t on it. I tried to get an explanation or at least a list of things I needed to work on, but the coach refused to discuss it until after the upcoming bout, just under a month away. As the weeks passed I felt less and less part of the team. It was like I was invisible during practice – I never heard that I was doing something bad or something good. Finally I got some feedback from my coach, and a few things were cleared up. I knew what I needed to work on, and stuck with it. The next couple rooster were announced, and I wasn’t on any of them. At this point I wasn’t completely invisible at practice, in fact I got to hear about all the things I was doing wrong. Apparently I never did anything that deserved commendation, and nobody really cared if I ever succeeded or not. Why in the world was I devoting so much time and energy to derby if I was getting little to nothing in return?

4) Immune system fail. Then in the early spring I started to get sick. Cold after cold. The misery was never-ending and I couldn’t practice. I started to think maybe exhaustion was the partial cause of it, so I went to even fewer practices and finally took a month+ off completely. I stopped getting sick so much when summer rolled around, but things had gone pretty downhill by then. Now it’s autumn again, and I’ve already been repeatedly sick. I tried seeing my doctor for advice and was just told to eat more fruits and vegi’s. Been there, done that, I think I’m just screwed.

5) Depression. I struggle with this on a daily basis, and have for years and years. It’s made a huge impact on life, and while it’s gotten easier as I’ve gotten older to cope with things, I still have plenty of days were I really just can’t convince myself to do anything, and even the simplest things are an ordeal for me to deal with. Plus in the winter when it’s cold and dark, I just really start shutting down.

6) Life outside of derby. When I realized I wasn’t succeeding in derby I knew I needed to spend less time on it. I needed a variety of things that felt rewarding and meaningful, so now if there is an awesome sewing class or I make plans with friends, I skip derby. Or even if between work and everything else my week seems crazy, it’s more important to me to take a night off rather than try to force myself to go to practice.

On the flip-side though I could come up with a much longer list of reasons why derby is awesome, and that’s why I still stick with it, abeit on a lesser scale. (And yes, I do realize there is a league in Monterey now, but I don’t have any interest in transferring at this time.)



  1. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” –Plato

    You’re not flaky with derby practice. You’re a complex, interesting human being.

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