Assessments have come and gone. And we now have a whole new derby schedule. I’m really trying to figure out where I belong, and sometimes wondering if I belong. For now, the schedule is one that doesn’t allow for much rink time for my group, which I feel is desperately needed in order to improve. For those of us still working on passing assessments, official skate time has been narrowed to two hours per week, down from the previous six. In addition, that same group of us have formed a ref team, are studying the game and sitting in refereeing scrimmages for the vets, all-the-while working toward passing the next round of assessments mid-year.
In the transition of it all, there seems to be a different feeling that has settled over my team. In fact, I even feel weird saying that – my team. I’m in this strange place of limbo. I’m out of boot camp, in a ref group and still working on passing assessments, but am I really a team member, or “part” of a team, or merely a wannabe? I don’t know. I do know I miss my girls from boot camp and the tight camaraderie we enjoyed practicing together several times a week.
The girls (many of which who are “my girls”) who have passed assessments have now moved on to being Prospects. This means they are training for the upcoming team tryouts. I wonder if this means they are more of a team member than me. And in all honesty, I don’t know if they feel any better off than I do. I watch them practice. In fact, I make a point of it. I figure if my actual skating time is limited, then I will dedicate myself to watching from the box and learning as much as I can.
But when I watch practice from the sidelines, a few things come into mind. One thing for sure is that I’m damn glad I didn’t pass assessments because plain and simple, I’m not ready to do what they’re doing now. But the thing is, I don’t even know, for that matter, if a lot of them feel ready. Some of what I have seen going on in practice highlights the rocky nature of this change we’re all experiencing.
Nothing brings up baggage for people more than change. So lately, when I walk into practice and notice an absence of conversation, shortened smiles and tenser attitudes, I remind myself change can be difficult for people. I try not to take it personally, when I feel slightly more division between veterans and newbies, a division that wasn’t as palpable during boot camp. I know a lot of the nuggets have been feeling weird about this but also think as the dust settles so will the uneasiness.
I completely recognize our coaches have definitely got their work cut out for them. They’re trying to make a “B” league team into an “A” league team, but clearly there’s a lot of work needed to get there. Then there’s this group of newbie Prospects flooding in that ideally will become the new “B” league team, but are nowhere near that level at this current point.
And then there’s this handful of pit bulls, like me, who have clenched on, jaws locked and are refusing to give up.
I think what I’m sensing is perhaps how overwhelmed the coaches feel, like a mother with too many mouths to feed. So with every email notice I get about practice time getting reduced, it’s not just the shaking of a leg designed to test just how determined my resolve is, but perhaps to see how hungry I am. So I’ve chosen to use this as another derby training skill. My mental endurance is getting fine-tuned. I’m smart enough to know that I’m only in the beginning of a long run. Before I even consider getting tired, I remind myself how capable I am of going longer with less to eat than everyone else. I’ve just got to get in the zone and find my happy place.
A while back, I could see this coming like a steam engine and wrote about it in my post called Rainy Days & Sister Wives. But now that it’s here, knowing about it ahead of time doesn’t make it feel any less awkward.
When a team is looking for its strength, and a way to define it, I think it’s important to remember strength comes from unexpected places. And not always from the girls who seem to effortlessly cruise through the rigors, but rather from the determined, thirsty wolves who circle the pack.