trACDC

Sep 182014
 

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You play roller derby. You’re probably kind of a badass. You probably like skating fast, hitting people, and you probably don’t mind the smell of stinky pads. You probably have strong thighs and a killer ass. You are probably 110% dedicated to this sport and love it with every part of your soul.

Rad. I can get down with that.

You probably also have intensely tight hips. Like when you try to sit cross-legged, your knees come up to your shoulders. You probably also have some thing going on in your neck that you can’t quite put your finger on, but sometimes it hurts in your jaw or shoulder, too.

You might have problems concentrating when you’re body isn’t moving really fast. You might not dig sitting still. You might not really want to deal with your lower back pain unless it involves loud music and sweat.  You might need yoga.

But, you might be dubious about yoga. You might think it’s for waify chicks who get manicures and watch the Lifetime network.

It’s not.

Yoga is for people who want to have healthy long-term relationships with their bodies and minds. Yoga is for people who want to feel better, physically and emotionally. Yoga is for people who want to learn to find concentration and motivation in the midst of chaos.

What I’m saying, rollergirl (‘scuse me, rollerperson), is that yoga might be for you. It might be for you, not just as a regular person, but as an athlete. Because I know you want to know, here are some ways that yoga can help your game:

You can touch your toes, maybe just not yet.

You can touch your toes, maybe just not yet.

1. Flexibility. The number one reason people tell me they “can’t do yoga” is because they “aren’t flexible.” That’s like saying you can’t wash your car because it’s too dirty. Flexibility is a skill like any other. You have to learn it and practice it. Unlike some other skills, like say knitting, flexibility can help you become a better player. Muscles that aren’t in a constant state of contraction (tension) are more responsive. Relaxed muscles work when you tell them to because they aren’t already busy doing nothing. With increased flexibility, you may find that your skating improves in ways you didn’t know were possible because your muscles are available to do what you ask them to when you ask them to.

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There is no spoon, people.

2. Focus. The second reason people tell me that they can’t do yoga is because they can’t focus. So, um, you can’t focus when you practice yoga but you are a single-pointed concentration machine when you’re on the track? No. Either you know how to control your brain or you don’t. Sure, the faster your body moves the more your brain will tune out external stimuli, but eventually your body will get used to the speed of the pack and the noise in the warehouse. And that’s good, because it means that your body is no longer in fight or flight mode when you’re playing and you then have the ability to become an intelligent player. But only if you can focus. I watch so many skaters with solid skills get that deer-in-the-headlights look and start making the same mistakes over and over. Why? Because they can’t focus. They look around the pack and they know what’s happening, probably, but their processing speed isn’t quick enough and their response time suffers. What you need is Matrix-like responsivity. You have to be totally in tune with the pack and the game and your body and be able to know what you need to do almost before you need to do it. That takes intense focus, and either you have it and you can turn it on and off at will, or you don’t have it at all.

Be the girl no one can knock down. Not even Krissy Krash.

Be the girl no one can knock down. Not even Krissy Krash.

3. Balance. I could talk about this on a metaphorical level, but I won’t. Being a good skater takes crazy balance. Balance (for skating) takes core strength and ankle stability. The thing is that unless you are always skating in really good form, you aren’t developing your core or your ankle strength. You’re using what you already have and probably learning bad, inefficient habits. The gym can help, but if you aren’t working out in a dynamic way, then you aren’t practicing using your strength in the way that you need to in order use it when you’re skating. Yoga makes you practice using your core to do things you would usually use other muscles to do (like taking up some of the duty in lifting your leg for a crossover). Sit ups will give you muscles, but they will not give you practice using them in a practical way.

4. Strength. I know that the cultural image of a yogi is of a skinny white girl, but most of us don’t look like that. I have thick thighs, a solid ass, and my shoulders are pretty broad for my size. I have an athletic yoga practice and therefore I have an athletic build. I don’t play sports anymore, but I am strong because I am constantly lifting my own body weight, and the more I lift it, the heavier it gets.

Also, a lot of yoga relies on eccentric muscle contractions, which means that your muscles are contracting and being lengthened at the same time. In sports, this kind of activity is called negative training. It’s hard and, in the short term, it hurts because your muscle fibers are always tearing. But in the long term your muscles are rebuilt longer and your muscles become more effective. Eccentric contractions are about 25% more powerful than other kinds of muscle contractions and they lead to finer motor coordination. Power and coordination, isn’t that what it takes to be a great skater?

Oh, look who's not freaking out. As usual.

Oh, look who’s not freaking out. As usual.

5. Calm. I saved this one for last because I think it’s the most important. Is there anything more valuable? People who have a real sense of calm are almost never freaking out. They don’t yell at the refs and they don’t get in fights with other skaters. They don’t freak out when they lose and they don’t freak out when they win. They are able to take what they’ve learned from each game and process it into usable material for the next game. They don’t waste time beating themselves or other people up. Calm people are trustworthy and reliable. They are not the people pushing themselves to the front of the line to become leaders, they are the people you choose to be leaders.

How does yoga teach you to be calm? That’s another mental game. If you spend a lot of time on your mat dealing with yourself you start to notice your personal patterns of thought and habit. Eventually you become aware of you emotional reactions in a way that allows you to predict them and observe them with some degree of objectivity. Once you do that, you have the freedom to pick and choose your responses to things based on how effective their outcomes will be instead of basing your reactions on how you feel in one split second.

 

Here’s the deal. I want to help you be a better skater. I’m retired, but I love roller derby and I want to contribute to the sport. If you live in or near New Orleans, I’m giving a workshop on Yoga & Roller Derby starting September 27th. It’s cheap and all your friends will be there.

If you don’t live in New Orleans and you want to help me think of a way to bring Yoga for Roller Derby to your team or league, email me at duncan.tracey@gmail.com or hit me up on Facebook.  I’d love to help.

If you want to know more about me and my classes, check out my yoga site, More Yoga, Less Bullshit.

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Jan 022014
 
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Me. Again.

Alright, people, here we go. I’m back in black and back on wheels and it’s taken me a while to write something because, frankly, my highly anticipated whirlwind return to roller derby has been about as exciting as that terrible movie where Sandra Bullock floats half naked in space for three hours. In other words, there have been brief moments of romance, anxiety, and jubilation, but mostly I’m just waiting for something to happen.

What has actually happened is that I am finding myself increasingly drawn towards writers who say that roller derby didn’t save their soul, women who think that roller derby is just something they do and not who they are, and players who don’t work out “in beastmode” all the time because they’re not Suzy Hotrod and are okay with it.

Only Suzy Hotrod is Suzy Hotrod, y'all.

Only Suzy Hotrod is Suzy Hotrod, y’all.

That’s right, friends, I became a big fat underachiever. (And you can too!)

I go to exactly the number of practices that I need to go to to make attendance. Sure I work hard while I’m there, but I don’t spend my off time pre-visualizing the perfectly executed plow stop. Yes, I cross train, but I don’t want to talk about it over dinner. And yeah, I go to bouts and I watch them on WFTDA.tv and I love the sport, but I also love American Horror Story and 30 Rock and I would feel extra lame if I posted about either of those all day on Facebook so same goes for derby.

I don’t want to be friends with the popular girls. I don’t care what team a player is on or if someone skates better than me or faster than me or if they can’t even make it around the track yet or if they founded the league or if they once held hands with someone on Team USA. I want to make friends with women with authentic smiles and interesting things to say. Intraleague elitism makes me want to vomit on the track.

I'm Veronica.

I’m Veronica.

I don’t give a shit about gear, either. I want my wheels to spin smoothly. I want them to be smallish and not too grippy and not too hard and I want my boots to fit well, but I don’t give a shit which famous skaters use what-the-fuck-ever or if my pads are all held on to my body with duct tape. I just don’t care. I let my friends who know about gear tell me what to buy and I don’t think about it longer than the time it takes for me to buy what I need.

This is Dee, of Bruised Boutique. SHE knows enough about gear for all of us.

This is Dee, of Bruised Boutique. She knows enough about gear for all of us. Ask her.

I don’t wear hot pants anymore. Firstly, because they are impractical (camel toe, rink rash, general self-consciousness, etc.) and also because synchronizing tights and knee-highs and hot pants is exhausting and I’m tired of going to gas stations after practice and being hit on by middle-aged drunk dudes.  Yoga pants are fine for yoga and they’re fine for roller derby, too. Plus they protect the whole ass cheek and not just half.

Yes, I do wear derby team shirts of teams I haven’t seen play. Maybe because I know someone nice on the team or traded at Rollercon or maybe just because I thought their logo was cool (for shame) or whatever and I’m probably not sure what city it’s from because I like to travel and I can’t keep track because my brain has to hold important information in it like where my car keys and phone are.

I know nothing about this team, but if you make a shirt with cows and skates on it, I will wear it for sure.

I know nothing about this team, but if you make a shirt with cows and skates on it, I will wear it.

No, I don’t want to volunteer. I mean, actually, I really enjoy helping out, but it’s not like a social activity for me. I don’t want or need brownie points and I don’t know who’s keeping track of them, anyways. And let’s be real, I’m a shitty NSO and I’m always rooting for the team I want to win. So if you want me to help the team, I will, but let’s stick to things I’m good at: yoga, getting shit organized, and writing sarcastic social commentary.

I do not want to get drunk after practice twice a week. First of all, I’m old and I want to run in the morning and it’s hard enough to function at 5:30 am without a hangover and not enough sleep. Second, I do not think that holding hands while we vomit equates to team building. Let’s just be non-vomiting friends, okay? Third, and I know this one is batshit crazy, y’all, but I have a social life outside of derby and I like to hang out with other people sometimes.

No.

No.

I don’t want to be in charge of anything and I am dreading the day that I have to join a committee. And no, it’s not because I don’t want to make a contribution to my league. It’s because I don’t want to spend my time quibbling over logistic bullshit or engaging in meaningless power struggles. I just want to play roller derby and let someone else call the shots. Is that too much to ask?

A good friend said to me the other day, “I go to practice and I skate hard and I pay my dues and that is actually what keeps the league running. There will always be people in charge and it doesn’t matter who they are. If the skaters all just keep skating and working hard, then the team will be successful.”

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And I kind of wanted to make out with her in that moment because I feel exactly the same way (and because she made a funny joke about lesbians with Justin Bieber haircuts). There is a lot of non-derby stuff that goes into the making of roller derby and someone will always be in charge. It will usually be the person who most wants to be in charge, so if you aren’t that person, why not just skate up and shut up? You really want to make your team better? Then be a better team player.

If it seems like I’m not taking roller derby very seriously, it’s because I’m not. This is what I do for fun. I already have a full time job and a part time job and a lot of other responsibilities and I want roller derby to be a good time. I don’t want to go to meetings and fight about bylaws. I don’t want to go to practice and get aggro and vie with other skaters for the title of Most Derby-fied.

You win.

I just came to play.

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The Best of trAC/DC

 Posted by at 2:17 pm  No Responses »
Oct 212013
 

IMG_0432I think it’s totally  weird to write about myself in the third person, so I’m not going to. I’m trAC/DC: founder, editor, destroyer, and resuscitator of LDG. I started LDG in 2009 when I was fresh meat for Red Stick Roller Derby in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This site witnessed the blossoming of my love for roller derby, the demise of my marriage, multiple personal epiphanies, and eventually the frustrated fizzling of my love affair with the sport. I started it back up now because I think LDG has something unique to offer the derbyverse: thoughtfully written and thought-provoking writing by a diverse group of women from around the globe. And I started playing again.

It’s also totally weird to write a “Best Of” of your own work, so here’s a combination of my own most popular pieces and the ones I personally like best. I put them in order of my personal preference.

1. Overcoming the Dark Side of Roller Derby: This is the most talked about piece I wrote for LDG. It’s about the real social and political aspects of being involved with a team. It’s about not pretending that roller derby is a perfect world of rainbow-covered relationships. It’s also about learning to be a team player on a not perfect team.

2. Roller Derby Ate My Marriage: This piece is about how playing roller derby led to a series of personal revelations that led to my divorce.

3. It’s Not You. It’s Me: This is the breakup letter to roller derby that I didn’t know I meant to write.

4. Unpacking My (Personal Skate) Baggage: This piece is about letting go of expectations that hold you back from becoming a better player.

5. The Accidental Derby Girl: This is the first thing I wrote about derby, and it’s about how I happened onto the sport totally by accident.

 

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Oct 172013
 
trAC/DC circa 2009

trAC/DC circa 2009

Well, derbyland, it’s been a while. Probably it’s been so long that you stopped even wondering what happened to me. That’s cool. I’ve been busy, too. What you are looking at right now is the archive for the website formerly known as Live Derby Girls. There’s nothing new here. But there will be.

I started Live Derby Girls back in 2009, when I looked like that picture up there and minor penalties were a thing. I chronicled my adventures through the world of roller derby and a lot of talented derby writers joined me. It was rad. Live Derby Girls was, I think, the smartest and most personal derby site out there. I reposted all of our old articles so that you can check them out for yourself.

If you do, you’ll learn a little about the evolution of roller derby over the past few years and a lot about the evolution of the women that play roller derby. These are not people who create “content” about roller derby. These are women who write about the sport with vulnerability, passion, and attitude for days. Putting the site back together made me feel enormously proud of what the LDG writers accomplished, and made me really excited to see who comes back to play and what they’ll say next.

So, then, what happened, exactly? Why’d LDG disappear? Good question. If you look back at my last few posts, from November 2011, you’ll read about my increasing frustration with my league. I was getting burned out. I wasn’t really having fun anymore. But I was still going to keep on rolling. Or so I thought.

On November 21, 2011, two days after my last post for LDG, I was in a scooter accident. It was a total freak thing. My helmet came off, so my face took the force of the impact. I broke my eye socket, my cheekbone, and my arm in two places. I tore the dura covering of my spinal column. I had a bad concussion. I was pretty messed up.

November 2011 & November 2012

November 2011 & November 2012

I didn’t have any health insurance, I missed a lot of work, and I had a lot of bills. I obviously couldn’t play roller derby, and I didn’t have the energy to write about it either. I couldn’t even really afford to keep the site up. So Live Derby Girls fell sadly by the wayside. Someone else bought the old domain name (and hasn’t done jack shit with it).

Gradually, with a lot of help from my derby and yoga communities, I rehabbed (But never paid off those hospital bills. Oops.). I moved to New Orleans. I started skating again, first with the Crescent City Derby Devils and now as a fresh meat skater with the Big Easy Roller Girls. (That’s right, I’m fresh meat.) I pressed restart. And I’m ready to take the mic back. Who’s with me?

July 2013

July 2013

I’m going to start out by posting a few “Best Of” articles to feature the work of some of LDG’s bestest contributors. There are so many of them and they’re so good that they’ll keep us all busy for weeks. And then, who knows? LDG is pressing restart, too.

Let's GO!

Let’s GO!

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