Setting Team Goals

 Posted by at 5:03 pm  1 Response »
Sep 202011

Now that I am back at school and have access to a computer, I will be posting on this blog. During my hiatus from blogging, I was still writing in my journal and I’ve wanted to share so many things with the derby community. I find myself learning new things from roller derby daily.

People are very often praised for remaining strong in their convictions. Many pride themselves on remaining unchanging because they think that a change in beliefs shows weakness. In reality, we should be ashamed if we are the same as we were a year ago- or even a day ago. The tendency to say “but I’ve always done…” or “I never did…” is understandable. Once we have progressed, it is hard for us to imagine how we may have done something differently. I can hear myself saying “I’ve always been fit,” but in reality I have become more and more fit over time. If you were to compare my scrawny 16 year old quads with my now buff 20 year old quads, there is an immense difference. The point is that change is good. That change is called progress and without it we digress.

Change, or progress, comes from challenging yourself and setting new goals. In order to achieve what we you want and to grow- you have to set goals. Goals provide you with direction. If you know where you want to be in the future, then you will know what you really want to be doing in the present. It seems like it would be easy to do what you want, but it isn’t always that simple. For example, my goal is to have 8 pack abs. One day someone offers me a donut that sounds appealing at the moment. Keeping my goal in mind, I can say no because I know that it won’t get me what I truly want. Distractions are simply excuses and vice versa. When I was setting my goals I didn’t make my goal to enjoy saturated fats. That is not depriving yourself; it is understanding what you really want and maintaining focus.

I understand and embrace the mentality that life is not about the destination, it’s about the journey. But where will you journey? Will you just go as the wind blows you, or will you decide where you want to go and get there?

As individual players we should be setting goals and constantly challenging ourselves to be the best athletes we can. We should evaluate our performances, highlight our positives and determine areas for improvement. I am a constant self-improver. That does not mean that I am not proud of what I have accomplished, it simply means that I will not coast on what I have accomplished. If I decide my goal for that month is to skate 13 miles in one hour and I accomplish that, then it is time to do 14 miles in one hour. If I don’t accomplish it, that’s okay too. That just means my goal for next month is still to skate 13 miles in one hour.

I believe in setting big, arduous goals- because the only thing that is certain is that if you don’t try it, you won’t accomplish it. So how do we go about setting goals as individuals?
Determine your values. What matters to you? How do you enjoy spending your time?
Look at what you would truly want in an ideal world- with no limiting factors.
Set your goals.

I set one, five, and 10 year goals for derby, health, personal, and education/career. I based my goal setting worksheet off of one that I found here: I start at 10 years, and then do 5, and then one so that I can direct my shorter term goals based on my long term vision. I also set monthly, weekly, and daily goals that work towards my ultimate goals.

Here is one of my goals, “I reach five year remission (cure) by 2016.” This one is a little trickier than others because obviously I did not choose to get cancer to begin with. However, this remains a goal of mine- in an ideal world that is what I would like. Knowing this, I can make decisions that work towards my goal.
So I set the goal: “I skate a marathon in 2 hours by September 2011.” That works towards my ultimate goal (as well as many of my other long term goals related to skating) by contributing to my health.
To accomplish that I set a goal: “I skate 50 miles per week outside of practice by August 2011.”
Today I set a goal to skate 10 miles, which I will do as soon as I finish typing this.

You get the picture.

The point is to progress and live your life with direction. But I’m not done yet. You see, that is pretty easy for us to do as individuals… but we’re members of a team. Our personal goals differ to the goals of the team. Or better yet, should be a direct reflection of the goals of the team. A good team is full of players who set goals, but a great team is a unit working towards the same goals.

The direction of your team should come from the leaders and the leaders should provide direction that reflects the goals of each teammate. It has to work both ways. As a leader, I listen to the goals of my teammates and then help them work towards the goals we’ve established. Our goal is to compete in eastern regionals by 2015. When the league was established, it was with a competitive direction. As coaches, we meet with the girls to find out their individual goals and then lay out our goals for practices based on what they want. But the most important thing is that everyone in the team is united in their direction. Everyone MUST realize the goals of the team and make contributions towards those goals. That is what a team is. I cannot compete in regionals by myself. A team makes possible what is impossible to do by yourself.

You may have a goal to be the top jammer, but that goal may not be team oriented. If someone transfers who scores more points than you do- then you should be stoaked to have them! It should motivate you to make improvements and contribute to your team, but if your motivation is selfish than you are not being a good teammate. If I want to score more points, it is not because I want to score more than my other teammate; it is because I want to contribute to the score of my team.

Watching eastern regionals this past weekend I saw teams that operated as a unit. The best teams were those who communicated effectively and worked together towards a common goal on the track. They were not trying to block for glory. They were each contributing 110% and working together. That is a team. When I’m blocking, I’m a point- but so is each other member of my pack. I do not want the jammer to get around me, but if in my quest to lay the jammer on her ass- she ends up getting around my teammate, then what good have I done?

Wolves (bear with me) hunt together. Each wolf is hungry, but they understand that in order to eat as individuals, they must hunt together. They are a pack, and in roller derby- so are we.

This is how we must hunt, haha!

Apr 302011

This is not going to be a happyhappyjoyjoy post. It’s not going to make you feel all warm and fuzzy about the wonderous sport we all know and love and it’s not going to lead you to some revelation about yourself or derby.

This is a look at how I was (and probably still am) a total n00b.

For those of you who are slightly to moderately internet-dyslexic, according to “Lord Emperor” of, a n00b is “A[sic] inexperienced and/or ignorant or unskilled person.”

Ok, so anyone entering into derby would be considered a n00b, in a way. I remember when I first heard of derby I thought it was for badasses. And I don’t mean like, sassy women who “tell it like it is” or something, but women who were so amazingly confident in themselves that they didn’t HAVE to tell anyone how it was because it didn’t change the TRUTH of it all. “It,” as it was, existed with or without the telling of it. Women so amazingly confident in themselves and the other women they surrounded themselves with that they all got along amazingly because of this unspoken truth.

Right, so you see how I was n00bish, huh? Yeah.

So right off the bat, I saw how wrong I was. The women I skate with are amazing, make no mistake about that, but I made the mistake of buying into this mythical derby ideal that doesn’t fucking exist. Granted, my derby family is different than all of my “normal” friends and family and that’s why I love them. They love me because I’m not “normal” either. How can normal exist in derby anyway? It takes a special kind of girl to wake up in the morning and say, “Today’s a good day to get my ass handed to me in the rink.” And you always love your teammates for putting you there and making you stronger for it.

But we’ve already covered this, haven’t we? trACDC did a rock-solid job on the taboo involved in your derby family. But what about other teams? What about other leagues?

So you see, I learned early-on that I had a misguided idea of what a derby girl is, but I still assumed that other teams filled with similar-minded women could still uphold that sense of comaraderie I’d always heard about. If you’ve skated in even a single bout, you know exactly what I’m talking about: both teams skate their asses off, knock each other into next week, then party together like they’re long lost sorority sisters or something. I assumed every bout was like this since derby has always seemed like a left-of-center sorority to me. Fucked up chicks who are sisters because we’ve all taken the same beatings, bruises, broken bones, and rink rash. It connects us in a way that is unbreakable, right?

Until you meet the one team that doesn’t operate that way. A team that doesn’t adhere to this supposed code and plays, well, however the hell they want. And that’s ok. It’s the real world and we’re all big girls, so we can pull our glitter-panties up and be big girls about it. It doesn’t take away from the fact that unsportswomanlike conduct still pisses you off.  

See to me, that sense of interleague comaraderie is an important part of what derby is. And yeah, maybe that’s why I’m still a n00b, but if that’s the case, then I’m ok with that. I want to be friends with the other team (after the bout, of course). I want to be able to go up to the tiny girl who somehow managed to put me on my ass and say, “DAMN. That was awesome,” and I want her to be able to do the same thing. What I don’t want is to wonder if I’m going to have to defend myself from a fight-happy derby girl at the afterparty. I don’t want to wonder if one of their fans are going to jump me when I leave the bout. That’s not what derby is about.

I don’t know, I think my biggest rant here is that once you’re a “derby girl,” you sort of start assuming a lot of things about a lot of people. You assume that someone else who has earned the same title respects the sport as much as you do. You assume that she has also worked her ass off like you did and that she wants to play as fair as she can – like you do. We assume the best in all of these women because we want them to assume the same is true about us. The thing is – assumptions are for assholes because you can’t assume anything about anyone because we are not all cut from the same cloth, ya dig?

So yeah, I’m still learning. I’m still discovering the idiosyncracies of the women on my own team while also trying to figure out how to navigate the testy waters of other teams. I wouldn’t trade anything I’ve learned/bruised/broken in derby because, like every other experience in my life, it’s shaping who I’m becoming…. and I kinda’like that girl.

Feb 242011

Me, making my way around the track as the RSRD jammer least likely to actually score any points

So.  This past weekend (Sunday, Februrary 19th, 2011 for those who are keeping track) I played in my first match against an opposing team.

It wasn’t a bout, exactly.  It was a scrimmage.  We were in front of families and a few close friends, skating in our normal practice space rather than on the intimidating floors of the Baton Rouge River Center.  But we were skating together, as a team, against girls from another city.  And as anyone who’s bouted before can tell you, being up against a real opponent makes a difference.  For the first time, I was skating against girls who wouldn’t tell me how to improve, wouldn’t pat me on the back after I survived an especially hard hit.  I was up against people who wanted to get their jammer past me at all costs – people who wouldn’t know the difference between me and any other girl in a purple uniform.  They wouldn’t know that I was new, wouldn’t know how hard I’d been working in practice or how much I’d overcome to be on the floor that day.  They would know only that I was their opponent, an obstacle to be eliminated.

I’m not used to being an obstacle.  I’m one of those “how can I help you” people – the girl who always wants to know what else she can do, how she can facilitate and instigate and accomplish.  If I ever stood in someone’s way, in the everyday world, I’d probably have a heart attack.  Or cry.

Originally, I was going to spend this entire post telling you about the process of becoming an obstacle – explaining how I found my footing in the midst of a game and learned to stand in the way of my opponents and their goals – WITHOUT feeling guilty about it.  I was going to tell you about our 117-76 win, about my unsuccessful jams, and about the way I made peace with those jams and realized that, in the process of failing to become a better jammer, I’d accidentally succeeded in becoming a better blocker.  A solid blocker.  I was going to say “aw shucks, isn’t derby grand?”

But that post-bout feeling subsides.  Obstacles cease being positives, and the desire to score more points returns.  I know that we here at LDG are fond of enlisting derby as a metaphor for all the great challenges we face in life.  But there are times when the answers I find on the track just aren’t applicable to the situations that bombard my everyday world.  Sometimes they aren’t even applicable to the situations I face within my own team.

Racing up to form a wall with teammates Schexorcist and Summer Squasher

Our league, like every league, has its disagreements.  We always bump through them together, but that doesn’t make them any less painful when they’re happening.  Right now we’re in the midst of a debate about shifting our long-standing practice time by an hour or two.  I won’t bore you with the details.  The point is, we’re putting some changes to a vote, and we’re discovering that even seemingly small alterations have far-reaching consequences.  While setting an earlier time might help some skaters with babysitters, early next-day work hours, and late-night study sessions, it would also potentially prevent other skaters from making the required number of practices each month – forcing them out of bouts and eventually off of the team.

When the question was originally put to a vote, I voted for the earlier time.  Because it suited me best, and I was voting for my own interests alone.  When it came to light that other skaters would be severely affected by the change, I wondered whether I’d made the wrong choice, whether I was a selfish bitch for going with my own interests.  I wavered and began to wonder if I should change my vote.  And then I wavered again, wondering whether there were others who would be equally affected by the later time, whose feelings I might not be taking into consideration.  I sat in front of my computer, staring at the debate on our skater forum, and froze.

My entire life I’ve been caught between the desire to perform for others and the need to perform for myself.  When I was on the track on Sunday, I thought I’d found the answer.  Something inside of me had snapped, and I had suddenly forgotten about trying to do what I thought I was supposed to do and had instead done what I knew I could do.  I had gone from being the waffling girl, the one who asks everyone’s opinion before she makes decisions, to being the blocker who thrusts herself firmly in other people’s paths.  I hadn’t worried, even for a second, wether my moves were the right ones.  I simply made them, automatically and definitively.  But now, post-bout, I was right back in my pre-derby headspace – fearing that following my own instincts and acting in my own interest was only going to hurt other people.    I was an obstacle, and I was certain that I ought to move out of the way.

Ultimately, I assume that we’ll reach some sort of compromise – one that will hopefully put everyone on an equal footing.  But in the meantime, I’ve had to realize that derby doesn’t give me all the answers.  Or maybe what it gives me are answers in the form of questions, like Zen Proverbs or something.  When I started skating, I was counting on derby to make me more assertive and less cerebral.  I wanted it to take me out of my head and teach me to assert myself as a person with needs and wants and boundaries.  But maybe wanting to euthanize my old identity isn’t the answer.  Maybe sometimes the girl who weighs people’s feelings, who waffles and is slow to make decisions – maybe sometimes she’s in the right.  Or at least not totally in the wrong.  And maybe neither one of us is the strong one.  Maybe the strength is in balancing two identities, knowing which to inhabit at the appropriate times, being able to shift between the two at will.

Maybe all the people who’ve been trying to convince me just to stand up for myself were reading me all wrong.  Maybe sometimes other people’s interests are my own, and the line between selfless and selfish is thinner than it seems.

Either way, I think I’m going to make a damn good blocker.