No, derby isn’t perfect, but …

I am seven years deep into the sport of roller derby. I have transferred three times, taken one extended LOA. Sometimes, because my league and I were not the right fit for each other and things were turning toxic. Sometimes it was purely for geographic reasons. Regardless, I am here. I am in love with the sport so much that I play, coach, ref, and announce (oh and I write).

I dedicate most of my life to the sport in some way. Sometimes it’s to work on the social media of my sponsors, or to piece together marketing for my league, or writing up drills for a friend who messaged me. Sometimes I write blogs, or go to the gym for an extra hour, or watch some archived footage to relax. I travel with my love (whom I found through roller derby) to go to tournaments all over the country (and hopefully, one day, the world).

Yes it is a lot. It is stressful, and it is tiring. And no, derby is not perfect.

We are a young sport with a young ruleset, and we are finding ourselves in a time when people are finding their voices. Our sport is molded by the climate of the time, and we have allowed ourselves to be on the forefront of acceptance of different races, religions, identities, and orientations. But derby is not perfect. Within our ideals lay the individual micro aggressions seen at social gatherings, at practice, during tournaments, on text messages.

Every year we lessen how much we gloss over bullies and sexual harassment. We call for action against those who threaten our safety and peace of mind. We change the way we think about people. But no, derby is not perfect.

We have bullies. We have league cultures that allow Mean Girl mentalities, or frat boy egos. There have been leagues that would rather ‘lose coaches, not talent’, or not punish a skater who spits in someone’s face (while wearing a WFTDA patch).

There are also schools that experience this. And bowling leagues. And movie companies. And bands. And crochet groups.

Does that make it right? No. Does it make us special? Certainly not.

Social interaction comes with a wide range of implicit dangers, and the wide variety of personalities of roller derby ignites sparks. I wish I could tell you that roller derby, or soccer, or rock climbing, or theatre, or choir would be a stress free, drama free adventure for you. I cannot. Where there are people, there is conflict. It’s our responsibility as an organization to call out the shitty people and hold them accountable. And I see it happening more often (not in the online “forums” but in real life when things can actually be effected). So yes, there is a lot of bad stuff that happens in our sport.

You know what else derby has though?

Love.

I have gotten groceries from league mates when I was out of work. I have had laughter and socialization on nights where I just needed to get away from my sadness. I lost my place to stay in the Netherlands a handful of days before arriving,  Parliament of Pain found me lodging (when I sprained my MCL a couple days later, that league member took care of me). Members of Duke City came and found me when I was stranded in Albuquerque and got me on my way (Bugs was correct, shoulda made that left). Roller derby got me to go back to school. I saw so many strong people changing their lives, that I was inspired to go back.

We dog sit, trade skillsets, swap recipes, attend graduations of team mate’s kids, and more. If it weren’t for derby, I would not be strong and healthy. I would not have the greatest friends and love that I have right now. Derby has provided the greatest highs (and lows) for me in my life, and I know I am not alone. “To light a flame is to cast a shadow.”

I am strong because of derby. I am resilient because of derby. I own my space because of derby. Some is a result of bullies. Some is a result of training like a D1 athlete.

I know people that have ditched abusive relationships, healed from past wrongs, and forgiven themselves past mistakes because of the sport. I know people that have changed their lives, because derby changed their outlook.

We can challenge ourselves. When we skate, we don’t have to conform to the expectations of society. When you find that player, or that pack, or that crew, or that co-announcer that you click with – it is a spark of joy. Hurdles are jumped. Achievements scored. Triumph embraced.

Is there frustration? Physical limitation? Of course. (But just for now) Just for as long as you allow your mind to hold you to it. If you work and try, you can change that. Will it guarantee a roster spot? No. Will I promise you that you’ll make your all-star team? Sorry. Again… this is every club team you’ll ever be on. Is it frustrating? Hell yes! No one likes being benched.  Sometimes bench coaches are blinded by the job and pieces of paper in front of them. Sometimes they forget about you. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what happens – you’re not going to play.

(That said, are you coming to practice so you can play in the game or are you coming to practice because you love playing the sport? Why we play)

To the bullies in the crowd: you can shift your attitude and actions too. You can turn your hate into love. You can apologize for the toxicity. You can sit down and talk to people like adults. You can be a leader by recognizing what a detriment you’ve been. If it’s cool in your league to bully certain people, be a rebel: be nice anyway.

There is always going to be someone better than you in this sport, Bullies, so be humble. You don’t know when you’ll be the one with the torn PCL or broken collarbone. Embrace the love of the sport. Encourage, don’t discourage. Let’s squash out the mean, the micro aggressions, the phobias, the anger, the hate.

Too many recall easily the bad, but forget the good. Let’s link arms and call out bad behavior. Let’s share stories of love. Let’s not tolerate threats or harassment. Not everyone can simply transfer when they are in a negative team environment, so all of us must be vigilant. And if a team culture simply is not going to change or align with you, it may be time to do that transfer and skate where you love. Let’s recognize that we need to still fix things in the sport, but it’s not one big dumpster fire … like it can be online.

Because the real truth about roller derby is that it can be the greatest thing you ever walk into, and if you let it… it can change your life.

 

Photo by Phantom Photographics

 

Advertisements

Review: RD Elite Travel Bag

So I just got back from a magical 5 week romp around part of the world. Along the way I acquired some new stuff, and I also got to really put some other stuff to the test. I decided to review them all in separate blogs now that I’ve gotten back. In this issue: Roller Derby Elite’s new skate bag.

THANK THE DERBY GODS FOR THIS BAG.

Seriously, Tony Muse is awesome at designing skates, but I believe his true talent lies in designing luggage.

Ok, so I am tentative to post this review first because I don’t want the world going, “Of course she loves it, they’re her sponsor.” It’s not why I love this bag. I will tell you why I will not need or desire another gear bag ever. This is a two-part bag (as are many), where your backpack and rolling bag zip together. But this is OH so much more.

15401262_10157848911160494_1966136847_n
Yes, it’s waterproof (I knew I’d be in Manchester, waterproof is necessary). Yes, it still is easy to sew on patches! Super handy when I was at MRDA champs and everyone had one. I could easily discern mine!

Spaciousness

I tested the backpack previously for space. It was able to hold: Size 6 skates, 187 pro knee pads, 187 elbow pads, Atom Wrist guards, my ACL DonJoy brace, full water bottle, mouth guard, 8 wheels, 8 helmet hats, 2 scrimmage shirts, shaker cup, extra shake container, and the little extra things I carry like re-wetting drops and chap stick. I clipped the helmet on the outside of the bag, and rode my bike 16 miles. The backpack clips across your chest, and the clip slides up and down, so you can adjust it to sit wherever is most comfortable on YOU. Note: while abroad, I added in ArmourFlex shin guards, and Steaks padded shorts/tank and it still fit comfortably.

The bag holds up to size 12 skates comfortably, though I personally prefer using my Skate Noose when utilizing my backpack as my gear bag, so I can put my helmet INSIDE the bag and not scuff it up. The helmet does swing a bit when attached to the outside, but that’s physics for you. If you clip your helmet through the loop with the shorter side through first, and the longer side coming over top, you can pull the longer piece through and the helmet will sit more flush to the bag.

15319540_10157848911455494_2080378009_n
ALL THE STUFF

The backpack has a separation in the largest compartment so you can put a laptop in safely. It has several separations in the smaller pocket, including a zippered pocket that was great for keeping my passport and cash in. All the separate parts are waterproof too, and overall the bag seemed really resistant to stank (throughout the trip I flip flopped between the backpack as gear storage and a regular clothes storage).

The rolling bag will hold any size skate comfortably plus gear, plus multiple braces, plus helmet. The rolling bag also has a handy wheel section on it so you don’t have to throw your wheels and bearings all willy-nilly into your gear bag. Or if you don’t want to keep wheels in it, store your extras. Honestly, it was my eye drops/tools/cash/tampon/whistle pocket while I was away.

Both bags individually fit as carry-on baggage on airplanes, though if you’re in Europe, do not overstuff the backpack. I got guff from a British Airline security lady because she thought I “brought way too much” in my backpack. I showed her that my backpack squished down really nicely into the bin sizing thingy and she reluctantly agreed. She was not happy about my skate noose, but everyone else in security oo’d and aah’d over my pretty new skates.

Durability

I gotta be honest, I wasn’t sure how this bag was going to hold up. Not every part of the world I was going to was involving smooth surfaces. Den Haag and Lincolnshire were particularly cobblestoney, and Manchester was just a perpetual puddle. I decided that since I had the option of a checked bag, I was going to take advantage:

Enter the beautiful option to zip the bag together!

Now, with other bags, I have seen a lot of strain on the zipper when stuff is in the backpack and attached to the rolling bag. I was worried about that with this one, since it is very obviously front heavy when the backpack is attached. That said, because of how close the zipper is to the ground, and how the backpack is designed, there is actually not much pressure on the zipper at all. When you rest, the backpack takes the brunt of the weight of the bag, instead of the zipper being a force to keep the backpack in the air. The bottom of the backpack could use a little rubber coating, just to guarantee it won’t scuff or rip, but the bottom is really durable already. I have no tears, no wear and tear from it resting in the airport or on buses.

roller derby elite
The full bag

The zipped and stuffed bag didn’t just survive cargo holds on four different airplanes, it looks damn near close to new regardless. There was a little strain on the zipper in the lower right hand corner of the backpack attachment when everything was stuffed in there, but I found that once I unloaded and reattached, the zipper was back to normal.

Convenience

Aside from the convenience of all the big storage, there’s a ton of little pockets everywhere on the backpack. The outside flap has a ‘tools’ slot, which was another prime place for easy access to credit card and identification while I was traveling. The front of the bag has two pockets, and the smaller one has headphone access. Admittedly, I never used it for that. The pocket itself is too small for my iPhone 5, but could be the right size for MP3 sticks, or other cells. I used it for chap stick, my portable battery, and to hold my headphones and USB cable. The second front pocket was large enough for my mouth guard case, finger whistle, and some random odds and ends.

There’s also a mesh water bottle holder on the side of the backpack that saved my life. My 32oz Nalgene fit PERFECTLY in it. I was worried about it stretching and tearing when the water bottle was in it, but the mesh is in good condition. The top of my water bottle had its attachment tear off (so the lid no longer attaches), and there’s a couple sharp bits of plastic that did a little bit of damage to the mesh, but I consider that a special scenario. It never caught on things while stretched taut.

The smaller, front pocket has an added bonus: the sides unzip so you can reach into the depths (which does have a tendency to eat small items) more easily! Often I would put my my eye drops or headbands into the deep pocket, and then when I needed to fish something out, I’d take down one of the side zippers for better access. SO NICE.

15281067_10105860290582542_1001822399_n

The wheel bag, when filled, provided a small shelf on the rolling bag, so I could wear my backpack, roll my bag, and keep another large handle bag (one of those enormous RollerCon bags from a couple years ago) on top of the rolling bag. It ended up looking cumbersome, but being quite easy to manage. Couple that with the fact that the bottom of the bag has a  little handle that helps with balancing it when standing, but also with hoisting the thing (particularly when the backpack is attached), and you’ve got a great multipurpose travel bag.

The rolling bag also has a front that unzips to reveal two layers of mesh. You can unzip the front completely to vent your gear (or partially as I did sometimes while traveling). You can also keep things in between the two layers of mesh! I find it a good spot for helmet hats, spare Herbalife Liftoff and Hydrate packets, or bandanas. The mesh keeps it all just a little bit separated to give everything air to breathe. Again, the bag has been really resilient to maintaining stink.

15310335_10157848917680494_1601115621_n
The second layer of mesh unzips for easy access to your gear if you need to grab something without messing up your packing genius.

In conclusion, while there are little things that I would like to improve (like a more convenient spot for a cell phone/headphone combo), I am in love with this bag. The comfort level is high up as well. The outside is durable, but woven in a way that it’s comfortable. I am a huge fan of backpacks that include a strap across the front to help distribute weight. Not only does this bag have one, but the height is adjustable! I didn’t discover that until halfway through my trip, but once I did my world changed! I didn’t have to adjust the tightness of the arm straps in order to shift where the clip sat (which, as a woman, can sometimes be placed in awkward and uncomfortable spots).

The bag retails for around $100 USD. You can find the bags from Wicked Skatewear, Bruised Boutique, and Sckr Punch (they’re not on the website, but call them up they have them). Buy from derby-owned shops!! Support our community!! Make sure you like Roller Derby Elite Series on Facebook, and follow Elite on Twitter @RDEliteSkates.

roller derby elite bag skates
Starting my adventure, waiting for my plane out of Dallas. What an adventure, and I’m super glad I had my Elite bag in time for the trip!

Khaos Theory Blog is run completely off my own funds. Make a donation now to keep the blog going! 
Donate Button

Kristie Grey (Merry Khaos) has been playing roller derby since 2009 and has coached almost as long. She has worked with over 20 leagues in 11 states, and five countries. She has coached on and off skates at Beat Me Halfway 2014 & RollerCon (2012-2015). She currently skates with Tampa Roller Derby. Active in health and wellness, she is an active Herbalife Health Coach, rock climber, and power lifter. For questions, booking, requests of topic, or help with a nutrition plan, message Khaos at DerbyAmerica@gmail.com

Continue reading “Review: RD Elite Travel Bag”

A Girl on her Path to Awesome

I fully and readily admit that patience has not always been my strong suit.

I have always been one to rush into decisions. I liked to call myself ‘spontaneous’ when I was younger, but now I see that it was purely rash decision making. Not all of these rash decisions ended up yielding negative results (I certainly wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for rash decisions). Moving in with my brother, going to HACC for theatre, going BACK to HACC for Humanities years later and joining roller derby were all split second decisions. So was auditioning for “There Goes the Bride”. So was starting Herbalife. So was deciding to be a coach. So was both years of Rollercon.

An example of a positive result from a rash decision... Warren and I
An example of a positive result from a rash decision… Warren and I

That being said, a lot of rash decisions have not yielded such amazing friends and positive results. But “That’s ok,” I’ve always told myself, “They will eventually. I’m on my path to awesomeness.”

So funny thing about that. I’m listening to the audiobook now Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters by Jon Acuff. (What can I say, the title caught my eye and his writing and narration style is reminiscent of my own so the messages are hitting home really strong)

Seriously. Buy it or download it. Amazing personal development.
Seriously. Buy it or download it. Amazing personal development.

In the book he talks about the Path to Awesome. How we’re all on our own Path and how if we don’t look around and take an honest appraisal of where we’re at now and again, then we may not realize that we’re actually on the Path to Average by accident. I have always said that I don’t want to just wait for my turn to die. I continue to hold that belief.

I have recently begun seeking full time employment to compliment my Herbalife business. Let me be clear: I am not putting a halt to my health coaching. I love it, it’s my passion and I feel like my genius lies within the realm of my coaches and clients. That being said, college, relationships and 10 years of minimum wage jobs and botched rash decisions have left me in a hole (ok, a crater really).

I have been bad at being patient.

I did not want to recognize as I graduated that I needed more time to develop my business. I needed more time to become a good coach. I needed more time to understand how to expand my client list simply and locally. I do not regret a single coaching gig. Oh no way! This summer was an amazing ride – full of hills and valleys and corkscrews (actually and figuratively). I have formed strong friendships thanks to my rash decisions of the last few months. Now is the time to change it up, however. I didn’t want to admit that I needed time to become strong at skills and at jobs. I didn’t want to waste time, and in the process I did NOTHING but waste time.

Oh wait, I guess I should mention one more rash decision: I’m moving to Baltimore.

baltimore

An exact date has not been set, but in order to walk the Path to Awesome I know I need to move. I’ve been saying for the last 2 years that when I graduated I would be moving out of Central PA. I knew that I needed to – I just didn’t know where to go. Well, I know now. I have been applying for full time jobs both in Lititz and in Baltimore. So we’ll see which ones call me first.

Some places I’ve applied to: Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore Aquarium, Discovery Channel, Honest Tea, Baltimore Sun, Charm City Cakes, Merritt Athletic Clubs, Sheetz, Jimmy John’s and Heavy Seas Alehouse. I’ll be honest, these are just the names that pop into my head. I’ve been sending out 2 to 10 applications a day for at least 5 days. (One of them has to at least interview me, right?)

So here’s the plan for my Path: continue to build an online community and support system for athletes to become HARDERBETTERFASTERSTRONGER. Continue to build up my team of amazing coaches and show them they are awesome and strong and have everything inside them to be successful. Work a full time job for a while to pay down my bills and put some stuff into savings. Move to Baltimore and work with a local club to begin building a local community of clients and coaches. When I hit GET team, I will be able to afford all of my bills, savings, taxes, travel and extras enough to leave whatever job I had been at.

At the Northeast Derby Convention
At the Northeast Derby Convention

If it takes one year, awesome. If it takes three years, that’s ok too. This patience thing is where I will learn the skills and learn how to edit and learn how to master all things coaching and health. The patience will hopefully spill over to my personal life, where I have had a habit of expecting things to come along quicker than they should.

And derby. Derby will still happen. I go to see a Physical Therapist tomorrow to get my knee and IT band looked at. If they tell me that I need to take time off, than that is what I will do [though maybe not starting tomorrow]. I am also putting in a bid to help out the Harm City Homicide as a coach. I have found a passion for men’s derby this year, and I want to help my southern boys be strong and fast.

Photo by Hispanic Attack
Photo by Hispanic Attack

Here’s really the big key: to the outside world nothing will look different. I will continue my Shred Challenges. I will continue my Instagram and WordPress accounts. I’ll be that person once more that people say, “How do you do it all?”

And my answer will be: “Have you ever heard of Herbalife?”

 Derbalife is everywhere.Derbalife is everywhere.

For more information on getting healthy or becoming a coach, drop me a line at KGreyActiveNutrition@gmail.com

A Bit of the Spring and the Roll

So I just realized that it’s been 20 days since I posted. INCONCIEVABLE! So here I am. My brain is at a point where it feels like it should be doing work, but it’s been DOING work all day and has run out of what it can do with real precision and effectiveness.

I have blogs to write and articles about Spring Roll that I have wanted to put up, and now the Northeast Derby Convention. They will come in a fuller form tomorrow or Friday however. I’m still waiting for more pictures… Nothing worse than a blog with no pictures.

Bored-Cat_o_84941

So here is the brief rundown of what’s been going on in life, the universe and everything: both a lot and not much at all.

Roller derby, Herbalife and my future have been taking up all of my brain space. I am working on moving out of the place I am in now to a spot in Lititz (closer to Lancaster than I am now). The move is a new chapter in life: The closing of doors and the opening of others. I have been both extremely confused as well as supremely invigorated in the past few weeks.

Spring Roll was a hell of an experience.

I played a few of the hardest games of my life within a 48 hour period. Not only that, but I had a few revelations about how much pressure I put on myself in derby… how many assumptions I had made about my teammates that weren’t true. They didn’t NEED me to be anything. They just need me to play and to work hard. What happens from there, happens. A lot of tears and insecurities came out after my bout against the Chicago Outfit (who were awesome, btw).

CONFIDENCE ON SUNDAY. Copyright 2013 by Bob Dunnell. Please do not remove watermarks from this photo. To purchase prints of this photo, please visit the following link: http://store.mrmcwheely.com/p41986587/e60cd2f99
CONFIDENCE ON SUNDAY.
Copyright 2013 by Bob Dunnell. Please do not remove watermarks from this photo.
To purchase prints of this photo, please visit the following link:
http://store.mrmcwheely.com/p41986587/e60cd2f99

 

By Sunday morning, my entire outlook was changed around. Confidence in my feet, my team and MYSELF really came out. I not only was able to accept, but also understand that no matter how much you may want something – sometimes relationship issues cannot be resolved. Sometimes, you can’t just say you’re walking away. You have to.

Not only did I play two games (better than I thought against two teams that were tougher than I imagined), but Sunday was where the friendships took shape. I had scouted out a bunch of the juniors and men’s teams on Friday and Saturday, but it was Sunday that I can say that I bonded with people. Doing push-ups with the Carolina Wreckingballs in my sports bra and Skinz for the Mass Maelstrom was one of the highlights. I’m hoping no one got a picture of it though – I was drenched after my game against Arch Rival and my abs are not exactly photo ready yet!

BOOM. Photo by Kimmy Kempf
BOOM.
Photo by Kimmy Kempf
Magic City v Harm! Photo by Mr McWheely
Magic City v Harm!
Photo by Mr McWheely

 

Getting to follow up those friendships the next weekend at Northeast DerbyCon was fantastic. Dutchland wasn’t able to stay for any of the crazy Spring Roll after-parties so it was nice to share a few pints with folks in Providence and relax a bit.

I will do a separate blog about the COMPLETE AMOUNT OF AWESOME at the convention tomorrow.

For now, I prepare for bed. I have upped my training. I have refocused my nutrition. Yes, again. Tomorrow I’ll try CrossFit for the first time. I’ve got deliveries of Herbalife goodies and I have to stop by 717 Tattoo to talk to a piercer about getting on a plan.

I do love what I do. I do love the life that I’m carving out for myself. Things can be rough sometimes, and I can be unsure of what is coming next, but I know that the next three months will be some of the most important of my life.

So let’s do this.

Next goal: Destroy ECDX and become sexy along the way!
Next goal: Destroy ECDX and become sexy along the way!