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Life Lessons in a Years Worth of Roller Derby

Our Creative Project-Managing whiz Danielle, stepped out of, WAY out of, her comfort zone and  joined a women’s roller derby league a year ago. Below she shares with us some life lessons and with wisdom like this Danielle, it sounds like you’re on the right track. :) Keep it up! You rock!

Photo Credit: Russellreno Limprecht

A year ago, I decided to join Reckless Rollers, the rec team for the Bay Area Derby Girls Roller Derby league. What started out as something fun to try has turned into one of the best experiences of my life. I have bonded with a family of women who have taught me so much and to whom I have a fierce loyalty to like no other group I have ever encountered. I love my derby sisters like family, and I have learned and continue to learn from them on a daily basis. The support system that the B.A.D. girls foster is unlike anything I have ever experienced, and I am forever grateful. While it hasn’t been an easy road, and my learning curve is a long one, it has been an amazing road to travel.

So, on my year anniversary, I thought I would list some things that I have learned in the past most awesome year with the B.A.D. girls. I hope this list makes someone who reads it go out and try something that they think they would never do, which brings me to my first point:

1. If you want to try something new, just try it. Don’t hem and haw and come up with a million excuses not to. If it doesn’t work out, so what, but you will never know what you are missing if you let your mind talk you out of doing it.

2. Don’t let your age be a barrier. I definitely thought about the fact that I would probably be one of the oldest people in Rec, and I am. This isn’t an excuse to not be active – age isn’t a reason to give up on fun.

3. You don’t always know what you think you know. I thought I knew how to skate when I signed up for rec. What I realized almost immediately is that I know how to move in a circle on a rink with wheels on my feet. This does not mean you are ready for roller derby. At all.

4. Admit your weaknesses. It’s the only way you will start to work on overcoming them.

5. Overcoming the aforementioned weaknesses doesn’t happen overnight. In some instances, it doesn’t even happen over the course of a year – I know this from experience.

6. Don’t focus on what you can’t do so much. I still do this, and I take for granted what I can do now that I wasn’t able to a year ago. T-stops took me a month to get down last July, now I can’t even imagine how I DIDN’T know how to do them, but instead of patting myself on the back when I finally am able to do something that I have worked on, I tend to piss myself off about the next thing that I can’t do. Turn and toe stops became my next fixation, and now that I am actually able to skate and turn 180 degrees while moving (although still not at top speeds), I am starting to fixate on my next obstacle. Give yourself time to enjoy the accomplishment of learning something new.

7. Don’t compare yourself to others. There is always going to be someone better than you. That doesn’t mean you won’t get it, it just means you didn’t get it yet.

8. Overthinking is your enemy.

9. I still cry from frustration as a grown woman. At one point or another, derby frustration will probably make you cry. Do it, get a tissue, and move on.

10. Don’t get dragged into the drama and don’t create it. There are a ton of different personalities at derby, and tension runs high. You will probably get pissed at someone. Actually, you WILL get pissed at someone. Use that anger in a positive way and focus it. Don’t dwell. Get over it. In the end, we are all there to support each other when the day is over.

11. Sometimes you have crappy practices. Take them for what they are worth and move on. Crappy days make you realize where you need to focus. If every day was a good day, we’d all be on the travel team.

12. It’s ok to screw up. Even in front of a warehouse full of bad asses. Everyone falls – it’s derby. You are on wheels and people are trying to knock you over. You are going to fall.

The list of what I have learned goes way beyond what I have listed here, but these are the things that really stick out. I am so happy that I jumped into this opportunity, and I wouldn’t trade any of my bruises, tears, or sore quads for the world.

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Michelle Rafalowski #

    In a world where mirrors are often used to measure “beauty” and reflect faults, your piece has held up a mirror to your readers reflecting how adventuresome, rich, and REAL our lives can be. As a teacher, I stress to my students: Don’t let societal expectations or inhibitions keep you from trying, exploring, and testing yourself. It is so very important to get out and DO!
    I hope this message is spread from mothers, fathers, mentors, and peers to those they nurture and love.
    Thank you for sharing your bold story – and keep up the good work!!!

    October 22, 2012
  2. Jeanne D'Orazio #

    Danielle, You are truely fabulous, always were and even more now! You really get what this business of living is all about. It’s about taking risks(in a good way) not in a bad way & growing and facing your fears.It’s about challanging yourself and trying new things to keep from getting stale.It’s about doing things you never thought you could and becoming stronger & more confident as a bonus. It’s about fufilling your dreams and becoming the person you always wanted to be. Some people take a lifetime to figure it out ,some never do. Some people keep their eyes ahead and some stay stuck in the past. You are the former and I’m so proud to call you family.

    October 17, 2012
  3. Barbara Wojnowski #

    OMG! You have done something so awesome Danielle. Your words of wisdom apply to all the things we do or should do in life. Your example goes a long way especially to those of us who know you and some of the obstacles you have had to face over the years. Your are my new HERO!
    Keep it up and you will always come out on top of the heap (so to speak)

    October 13, 2012
  4. Aura and Ronnie #

    What a wonderful and UNIQUE experience…. and what a positive way of thinking…. keep up the good work….

    October 12, 2012
  5. Bill #

    I’d heard from your mom and dad that you were on a team. I think it’s great. We all need to push the envelope. Leaving our comfort zone is the way we grow.

    Good luck to you and , girl, you should also probably take up writing. Your blog was great.
    Bill Lista

    October 12, 2012
    • aclerget #

      We agree, Bill! We’ll also make sure Danielle reads this comment and then continually pray she’ll heed your advice ;)

      October 12, 2012
  6. Mom #

    Danielle you were never one not to try something new because your friends weren’t doing it, and that has made you try many things in life and I am so proud of you for that. Keep up the good work, I haven’t seen you this excited about something in a long time.

    October 12, 2012
  7. Denny Harkins #

    I’m impressed – and inspired to start working harder at my sport!
    …and I’d like to pass on the 12 suggestions to my teammates!

    October 11, 2012
  8. Dad #

    All I can say without embarrassing her is “That’s my girl” .

    October 10, 2012

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