“you first, …no really”
If you have ever seen me jam, you might notice that I often allow the other jammer to take off first from the line when the whistle blows. It’s not cause I’m slow, it’s strategy. For one, I trust my team. I know my blockers won’t let the other jammer through before I get there. Or at least, they’re going to put up a damn good fight on my behalf. If I didn’t have big burly kick-ass women backing me up, I would never be a jammer in the first place. Far too often too much pressure and importance is placed on the jammer. Sure they are the point earner, but without a good pack of blockers their fast feet ain’t shit. So I don’t gun it right out of the gate, there’s no reason to. I conserve my energy. I sit back and let my team do their job: protect me, help me, get me through the pack.
Not only do I trust my blockers, I know a universal truth. It is difficult for most people to concentrate on defense and offense at the same time. The fact that this game is both offensive and defensive the entire way through is one aspect that makes it uniquely distinct from many other sports and is a reason why a lot of us find it so fun to play. But let’s face it, a lot of derby skaters aren’t that good at it yet. Most are just wrapping their minds around cross overs and basic skating. They can’t grasp strategy, it’s just too much. So if there is another jammer already in the pack up ahead of me, I don’t care if you’re on my team or not, you’re distracted. I hang back and let the chaos ahead of me ensue, and wait for the holes to open up.
(I realized recently while a coach was telling us not to go for holes because they will close up by the time you reach them, that I don’t go for the holes. I dive at anticipations of holes. I probably learned this anticipating the moves of cars skating in the street).
So likewise, as our league gets started, I see panic set in as others “accomplish” things quicker than us. Worry arises that our league could fall apart as others around us experience trivial success. But from someone who has been accused of “having no plan”, I assure you, it is much better to take your time, research, and carefully consider all your options. It’s like a finely orchestrated chess game. And besides, it’s like that saying: “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it an remove all doubt”.
So let them be first at something. We don’t have to prove ourselves to anyone, but ourselves. And besides, I am a skater- first and foremost. Skaters’ rights and improving the quality of skating for everyone have always been my top priorities. I feel driven to shape the future of roller derby and believe in my heart I was born to do so. When I have skates on my feet, I can’t help but smile and feel gratitude. Nothing can stop me, short of some crazy Tonya Harding style whack job. So friends, as we move into the New Year have faith in your good intentions and purity of heart. And relax, I got this.