Monday, June 3, 2013


I haven’t updated this blog in six months mostly because of two reasons:

1. Since November I fell completely out of love with derby and the direction it was headed. That position arose out of watching the national field of competition and problems brewing within the ranks of my own home team. I stepped down from coaching, hoping to focus on reffing more and hopefully working toward my certification. Due to our ref coordinator opting not to return, I stepped in to help train our zebra crew and staff our bouts. Those extra duties coupled with my horrible work hours led to me putting my own aspirations on the back burner. I certainly didn’t have the extra time to devote to derby, and that made me very bitter and cynical.

2. My job and ability to remain in the Quad-Cities was in serious jeopardy. My father’s health continues to decline and rumors of potential layoffs were in the horizon. I was planning more for the possibility of having to sell my house, most of my possessions and/or moving home or far away for a job that paid a lot less money.

My league was heading in a completely different direction and far too busy to notice that I wasn’t pulling my weight and I was quickly going downhill as far as my mental health goes. Derby people get real selfish sometimes, and it’s pretty easy to not notice when someone is having serious problems. That, and I’m too bullheaded to ask for help.

Everything came to a head two months ago when I completely lost it at a practice. The league was scrimmaging and, despite my best efforts, my calls or non-calls were raising the ire of the players and coach to no end. I tried to keep it cool as long as I could but I finally just stopped, geared down and left practice. I can take heckling and I can take arguing a call, but I was bombarded with bad attitude and unwillingness from both parties to discuss what was going on.

Maybe walking out was the wrong choice, but I couldn’t see how something constructive was going to come out of that situation. Little did I know that night would have a compounded effect on my confidence and self-esteem, all summoning horrible recollections of my childhood and the persistent presence of bullies and scumbags that seemed to gravitate to me (mostly because I was non-confrontational and I was one of a handful of non-white kids in my community). It made me sick, literally. I was nauseous, couldn’t eat … I could barely get off of my couch. I emailed the ref coordinator for an upcoming bout the day before and told her I wouldn’t be able to make it. I “disappeared” in the words of the Q-C coach, struggling with borderline depression, an immune system that had been leveled and everything else was compounded by recent flooding that left a foot of water in my basement.

Luckily I was able to alleviate most of my problems, and managed to ref a closed-scrimmage that seemed to help take a lot of the stress I was feeling. This is mostly thanks to the two teams not being a part of my league, and the teamwork I typically get from working with that particular crew.

Little did I know that scrimmage would open up a whole new can of worms with the league.

Everything finally came to a head when I confronted the team about the various events that transpired in those two weeks. Mostly about how I felt that the team didn’t respect me, and I therefore didn’t have any respect for the league, the skaters or the leadership.

That was apparently the proverbial straw, as the coach said it was “your fault,” and that if I didn’t have any respect for the team that I should leave and not come back.

And so I left. I resigned my position with QCR, and opted to head to our neighboring league. I’m not one to “jump ship,” but obviously if the relationship has gone that far south, something needed to transpire – and I didn’t feel that my sticking around was going to help matters any. I love QCR. I spent the better part of 5-plus years with that league, but it’s not where I want to be at the moment. 

I couldn’t see the situation getting any better, and I couldn’t see myself getting any better in that environment.

Leaving was simultaneously the hardest and easiest thing I ever had to do. I only wish the events that had occurred to facilitate my leaving hadn’t happened. I would have wished everything had gone a little more quietly. This isn’t always the case.

The biggest thing to come out of all this mess is that my confidence is so horribly battered that it’s a struggle to regain any semblance of my old self. I had hoped that time and practice would take some of the edge off, but I guess I just need a little more time.

It’s kind of like a bad breakup. You can’t hope to simply hop to the next one without a little more time for personal growth.