Building a house is never easy. It takes months of planning, hard labor, and lots of split decisions along the way. Now imagine pouring the foundation, building the frame, putting in the plumbing and wiring, and finishing the drywall. You’ve put bricks on half of the house and the second story is partially finished. Oh- and the garage has had the cement poured. It’s been months but your almost done, right? Now I’m going to tell you that you built the house wrong, that it was resting on shaky ground, and that you need to tear the whole thing down, move it 6 feet to the right, and start over.
You’re psyched, right? I mean, who doesn’t want to put in all that extra work night after night when they already have a fine shelter and a thunderstorm is on the way? Now, if you couldn’t tell (and I really hope you could), I’m being sarcastic. No one wants to tear down all the work they’ve done when they’ve got a perfectly good fireplace and all of their teddy bears are already placed in their room right alongside their unicorn alarm clock. Rebuilding takes work and it’s not always a sure thing. What if you tear down the house and the construction crew stops showing up? What if it snows and delays your plans to pour the concrete? Nothing is guaranteed, which is why rebuilding is so hard, but so important.
Just in case you drifted off during the first two paragraphs, yes, this is still a post about roller derby. Derby is never consistent; rules change, players leave for a variety of reasons, people no longer have the time or means to travel, or committee work takes over, and it seems like our league is always in a state of flux where our player pool is always changing. We knew we needed to change some things in order to accommodate this ever changing sport, so we decided that we were going to do something things a little bit differently this season. This year we got something we’d never really had before- an actual coach who’s invested in us and ready to start winning. We started doing fitness requirements to get our ladies to start working out outside of derby. We started doing a more intense off-skates warm up. We started formulating and implementing new strategy. We brought in a nutritionist to teach us about healthy eating for our active bodies. We started honing in on specific skills that would give us an edge on the track, and we stopped allowing people to feel entitled to their position simply because they had been around a long time. These were hard changes to make or implement; some people felt picked on or that the work load would be too much for them. Some of us just felt shaken up, worried that everything we had built was going to be tossed in the garbage. It was definitely a massive culture and attitude change, but when we all packed our bags and headed to the Wild West Showdown in March, not one player felt like they hadn’t earned their spot on the team. We had all put in the sweat, tears, long nights, and burning muscles to get there, and because we all knew we had earned it, we felt more like a team than ever before.
I came to realize that some people were not willing to rebuild our foundation. Whether it be impatience, an unwillingness to be challenged, or just that they needed a more competitive platform, it was hard losing these valuable players. That being said, I would do it all over again. We’re not finished, not even by a long shot, but we’ve torn down the old structure and we’re slowly and steadily rebuilding to have a more solid future. Even though it’s thoroughly depressing to stand and look down upon an empty hole where you once had your house, we’re building this brick by brick and bolt by bolt in order to stay steady when we lose skaters to anything from pregnancy to career changes. We want out team to remain strong even when we only have 8 skaters to play an entire bout with. So, if your team or your heart is facing the old dilemma of where you want to be with roller derby, just ask yourself:
Do you want to right the ship, or do you want to build a new one?
The Original Skankster