May 072011

There comes a day in every little girl’s life where she stops basing her belief in men on her daddy. Now whether that’s a fall from grace or a boost up from the gutter kind of situation, we all eventually figure out that our dads aren’t the be-all, end-all of what makes a man.

I’m lucky. I happened to have a crazy-awesome dad. He always taught me to be strong and be an individual, even if that meant I was going to be labeled as a weirdo in my adolescence. He helped me believe in myself and, mostly, my intelligence, while my mom helped me fit in on the outside.

Somehow, I never could reconcile the awesomeness of my dad with the men I dated. I never understood this (still don’t) since I had a good childhood and he would always talk about how a man is supposed to treat a woman. In the past, I always picked the losers, the assholes, the I’ll-give-you-a-reason-to-cry guys.

So I stopped dating. From 2002 until I started derby (September 2010), I’d dated two guys. They were polar opposites, but my last relationship lasted right up until I joined my team. trACDC talked about how derby helped end her relationship, but that wasn’t the case with Trey. And unlike Raven von Kaos’ marital bliss, derby really didn’t help things either.  It was a long distance relationship that had lasted a year and a half with no chance of lessening that 200 mile gap (his decision).

Freshly single, I joined my team with no intentions of dating. I didn’t hate men, contrary to popular belief of what a “feminist” is. I LOVE men, in fact. I think it’s adorable how they try their best to do something incredibly nice for you and mess it up, but it’s still such a wonderful gesture that the good intentions and the “mess up” are kind of the best parts. I love their hands and the silent strength that lies there. I love the way they smell after being outside and doing “manly” things and I love the smile that slips out when they’re trying their best to keep their “serious business” face.

I love all these things particularly in our head ref, Sofa King Bad.

So now you know. I am one of those people who somehow managed to embroil the most personal, intimate part of their lives and tangle it up in one of the most important parts of who they are. And opinions are mixed, ya know? I’m sure half of all derby-ites would say dating in derby is a horrible idea. I know the other half would say, “Fuck it. Do what you want. It makes you happy.” I tend to side with the second camp.

I’m not going to say dating in derby is an easy thing. Some days it’s fucking hard, but dating itself is pretty fucking hard.

Sometimes my relationship with Josh (Sofa King Bad) invigorates my love of and relationship with derby. At practice, he’s beside me, pushing me and testing my limits. At home, he listens to my derby-related rants and frustrations and acts as my logical sounding-board. He’s an amazing ref and so even if I wanted to, he wouldn’t let me just not know the rules. Really committing to a derby team is also a lifestyle change. You dedicate so much of your time and heart to something that keeps you from home or on the road 4 days a week which really limits the amount of time you have to find someone much less KEEP someone, so I can’t even imagine how people do it when they’re with someone not involved with their team.

Other days, it aggravates me to no end. When I’m having an off day at practice, I don’t need him there pushing me because I KNOW I’m sucking ass. At home, he doesn’t always agree with my frustrations (or doesn’t see the logic in it) or is probably tired of hearing it. I’m always afraid of that line I know I’m perilously walking because I’m terrified that I’m going to fall and falling might mean I lose one of two important things in my life: if I fall to the left of that tightrope , I lose him. If I fall to the right, I lose derby.

Now that’s all wonderfully melodramatic and I know life doesn’t really work that way. I also know that if something ever happened between him and I, we both care about each other enough to not be assholes.

Yes these are our pads. Pro: Pad partner. Con: Mega Funk!

There are pros and cons all over the board, though. When it comes to bouts, I like the fact that I have to distance myself from him. I don’t need to wonder what he’s doing, where he’s going, is he watching me? Did he see that awesome hit?!? I need to focus on myself and my team. On the other hand, I do wish he could be part of the crowd and maybe (probably) the only person focused on me. It’s silly, I know. But we are all multifaceted, right? I can be conflicted.

Even as a part of the whole team, dating within your team/league can be a perilous journey. No one actively voiced any concerns or objections about us being together, although I know there was some behind-the-scenes issues I was never directly confronted with. But I also know couples from other teams aren’t as lucky. On CDD, we get tend to get over things pretty quickly, which is a quality I love about them.

Derby Halloween party pre-"official on facebook."

Last night, I asked Josh if he could think of any pros and cons about dating in derby. He said it was great to have someone to talk about something you’re passionate about who actually knows what you mean when you say, “Can you believe she kept chasing the jammer down even though she was way over 20 feet away from the pack and CLEARLY out of play?!?” And yeah, that’s an awesome thing about dating someone so involved in what you love.

An obvious con would be to have dated multiple girls on the team, which he has (sorta!) done. When he became a ref over a year ago, it was because a girl he was already on the team. Months and months (and did I say months?) after they broke up, I joined and he and I eventually started dating, but there were never any issues. I love his ex! She’s an awesome skater, badass booty blocker, and is one of my favorites on the team.

Ok, so all in all, there are clear benefits and disadvantages to dating in derby, but that’s life. You can make a pros and cons list for everything on the PLANET, but I’m not quite that OCD, so I’ll go with my gut on this one. Yes, some days are rainbows and sunshine shooting out of my ass and some days I want to sic a pack of wild wolves on him, but he’s mine and I love him and one of my favorite things about him is that he shares the passion of derby with me.

Oh, and what does my dad think? Ha. My dad thinks he’s pretty cool. :]

After our season opener in March.


  3 Responses to “Shitting where you eat: derby style.”

  1. I’m with you! I was working my way out of a very bad relationship when I started derby, and I had no intention of jumping right back into dating. But one of the league refs convinced me to give him a chance, and then he proceeded to sweep me off my feet. Today is our first wedding anniversary, and ours is the most supportive, healthy relationship I’ve ever had with another person. There are pros and cons, but ultimately, the success of the relationship depends on the people within it. He and I have a delightful romance and our story is sweet… our first public kiss was at derby practice: he skated up behind me, spun me around, and kissed me, and then we both burst out laughing because I happened to be wearing my mouth guard at the time!

  2. I have dated in derby and out, and belive me neither one is easy! The hard part comes after (if there is one) the break-up. If you can both manage to be adults about it, its not as big of a deal. Its hard because practice is generally where I go to blow off steam and escape. When a big part of your emotional “baggage” is there, it becomes part of the problem not the solution.
    After an ugly break-up with one of our league refs (and when I say ugly, I mean cops involved UGLY), I decided I wanted to date someone who had no interest in derby what so ever. That didnt work out either. He was always mad that I was spending so much time on skates instead of with him. We could never get anything schedualed due to my derby habit and his work. It fizzled very fast. :( Dating is hard no matter what, dating with derby takes “hard” to a whole new level. I say, if you find someone who makes you happy and you can share your love of derby with, GO FOR IT!

  3. ABSOLUTELY with you! When I started skating I was bound and determined that I was NOT going to date refs. I’d be friends with them, I’d mock their choices in girls, but not date dammit! My reffy boyfriend of two and a half years (and going strong) somehow managed to change my stubborn mind and eventually welcomed me with open arms to the stripey side of life. Because we ref, almost every vacation is a derby vacation and we literally have to take weekends off from working bouts sometimes. But all in all, I wouldn’t change it for the world. :)

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