“Calm. Urgent. Not desperate.” Those words of wisdom have been in the back of my mind this week, seeping in to every juke and block executed and direction called at practice. Stopping just for a split second to think “Do I really want to do this?” may seem fatal, but those extra seconds to decide whether our strategy is correct can be the difference between winning and losing in the final jam of a bout.
This amazing nugget of information was just one thing I picked up last weekend at Smarty Pants Training Camp. The lovely ladies of the Glass City Rollers invited me and my fellow dames to join them for a weekend of skating, fun, and training from one of the top in our sport, Nadia Kean, or as we call her, Smarty Pants. She is one of the few who were at the core of roller derby revival, spending seven and a half years skating for the TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls banked track derby team in Austin, Texas. A year and a half ago she switched to flat track and became part of the Texas Rollergirls, leading them to a third place finish in the WFTDA championships this past year. Needless to say, we were stoked to spend a weekend soaking up every bit of information she could give us.
We filled our two days with strategy drills, refining our basics, and of course a little bit of scrimmaging. I was personally excited to learn how to do a hockey stop and get input from a top skater on what I was doing wrong (some days my feet do not like to go in the same direction)! Her incredible skill as well as her knowledge of how our minds and bodies learn made the 8 hour days fly by and left my head spinning with all of the new information to bring home and incorporate in to my personal skills, as well as the teams.
Playing with girls from all over the region whom I was not used to skating with presents an unusual challenge, and helped me with my observation skills. We had to figure out each other’s strengths quickly and put them to use in the most effective way possible. We derby girls need strong minds as well as strong bodies!
Smarty Pants consistently reminded us that as derby girls, it’s okay to do things differently. Each skater has their own skating style and teaching method and that’s what makes us great. Our differences make us strong women who are able to do anything. As we take that pivot (or jam!) line, we remember to take a deep breath and be calm, urgent, not desperate. Individually we are strong. Together we are unstoppable.