Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Give what you get.

The ladies of NHRD, as you know, have given me a lot. Whereas Boston is where I drop anchor in the derby world, it was in the waters of New Hampshire where I was able to clear my throat and start out my career as an announcer. It's also one of the places in derby where I am not a widow. Here, I'm their announcer and friend. The fact I'm married to Dreadnought, a skater with whom they have a great rapport, is an added bonus. Before I leave this paragraph, here's a visual to go with all of the boat/ocean metaphors in this paragraph:


The squid is roller derby, the whale is my attention. Neither of them are ships...but both are in the sea... Metaphor consistency = C-

Being an announcer in NHRD is relatively stress-free. It hearkens back to the days before I began volunteering several hours of my time to this sport. But in New Hampshire, it has been easier to help because I'm not tethered to any of them by a ring or sleeping arrangement that gives anyone license to take me for granted. Likewise, I do not take my position up there for anything other than what it is: friends helping friends. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who loved this league.

Boston skaters, refs, and other volunteers were there to support the skaters of New Hampshire in a way that we have not in a long time. NHRD often comprises twenty percent of BDD's support staff. This time, we returned the favor with interest. Not only did Boston swell the security ranks...but they also filed into the stands and beer garden.

It's a good thing to see a community that is symbiotic. New England Derby, for all its variations, fights between individual skaters, and stresses is actually a unique coalition of ladies and gentlemen who so love their sport and each other that they help each other out on a weekly basis. I can't speak for anyone else, but helping out in a league where its success and failure is not the primary concern makes me feel refreshed.

Now if one of the people in New Hampshire can own up to infecting me with this cold, I won't change my mind on how much I value that league.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"Those are my douche-bags you're talking about."

Outside of the referees, there is almost no volunteer position least respected than those who work security at a derby bout. These people, all of whom work without pay, sacrifice the chance to actually watch a sport they love so that the skaters can play the game without interruption and retreat to the locker room without molestation. Unlike the bouncers at most dance clubs, or the armed entourages of numerous recording artists and actors, these people did not begin this job with huge chips on their shoulders. Thus, it's the duty of anyone involved in derby to not allow that chip to grow.

When you stop and look beyond their silly staff shirts, it's clear that what you're looking at are our fans who are so committed to this sport that they're willing to give up seeing the game to make things better. Other fans see them as assholes, bullshit artists, and douche-bags. Hell, some skaters do, which is a shame. I am ten years past praying for broken limbs and cancer, as that's a rotten thing to do. But I will say this to all passengers on this train:

           Those are my douche-bags you're talking about. Technically, they're yours as well. Cut the crap and fly right. They're doing it for you.



I am often filled with mirth, and in this blog I've talked about the joys of being behind the scenes. But the rotten popcorn kernel stuck between the teeth of derby's fractured smile is that we don't often thank or even get to know the people who work with us each month for a bottle of water and a possible piece of pizza. And if autographs and photo-ops are given to the people who spill beer on the floor and spit at our volunteers, what do we feel is fitting for the volunteers to receive?

For those of you pondering the answer, I'll give it to you. Thank them. Get to know their names, if you can. They're more than human, they're the silent golems protecting your playing field and backstage so that you get to skate. There's one cure for a thankless job. Thank them.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Just take that moment.

It's been two weeks since I've updated the derby widow blog. There have been fitful half-starts. Drafts are saved on the blogger dashboard, waiting to be pushed out into the ether the moment I can do them justice. I've hesitated writing about the Albany All Stars trip, mainly because it's been covered rather well in our bout recap on powerjammers.net.

On a personal note, the best takeaway from that trip was that I was the sole Y-chromosome rolling with the B Party from start to finish of that trip, and it didn't feel odd. Perhaps it's because it's understood that I'm no creep, but I think it has more to do with the fact that this was the first trip in which I was surrounded by skaters I've shared more than ten words with...and they've been pleasant ones. You should never attempt to shoehorn yourself into every situation in the hopes that people "get used to you." It doesn't work. But in Albany the stars aligned and I had that one moment where I was among friends, and I knew it.

The sport continues to evolve, and the work that everyone puts in to take it to the next level is both hard and daunting. Never allow the blinders of your vision of derby stop you from enjoying the entire horizon. Sometimes you have to pull back, assess the present and exclaim, "Damn, this is nice. Thank you."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Goblin's going to Grandma's and Ari's man of the house...

Dread and I will be heading to Albany tomorrow morning. She's playing on the Boston B Party against Albany's Empire Skate Troopers. It's a decent drive, a little over three hours, which is what I do to go to school every six months anyway. With Spring in bloom, the trip across New England and then into New York will be a decent one, with the spring air only briefly fouled by exhaust and cow dung.

It will be an exciting journey, though we must leave our two roommates home:


A typical morning scene at the Costello/Dread household.

While Ari, our cat seems to have little interest in roller derby outside of rubbing himself all over Dread's sweat-soaked pads, Goblin's been in more than a few derby-related photographs. The most important of those photos was in the team photo of last season's Nutcrackers

I've rarely heard children or pets called "derby orphans," but that's probably because most skaters treat both better than they may the average spouse. As they should, for while a widow(er) is grown-up enough to deal with the heavy time commitment that derby demands, spawn and furry friends require the proper amount of time and energy in order to keep them from becoming juvenile delinquents or neglected pets. Envisioning Goblin and Ari in ratty jean jackets, burning down churches is funny, but I know we would never neglect them bad enough to turn them into copies of my neighbors from my ill-spent youth.  While our pets will be cared for in our absence, I'll miss them.