Thursday, June 11, 2009

Splitting time between two leagues

In case you haven't heard, I am now skating with Sonoma County Roller Derby. It's not been a secret but I haven't been telling everyone I know either. Since I'm rostered for an upcoming bout with them against Sac, I figured I should take the time to discuss my dual-league decision.

Yes, I said dual-league. I am still a skater with the B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls. I am still playing on the Oakland Outlaws and I have no plans to change that.

However, I am not longer playing for the B.A.D. All-Star team. In the beginning of the season I left the team for personal reasons. I had thought that maybe I would try-out at mid-season and finish up the year back on the travel team. After being on the All-Star team for three consecutive years, I felt I needed a little time off from the intensity of national competition and travel and training. Once I took a few months off from the travel team, I realized I didn't actually want to rejoin the team later on in the season. Sure, I missed playing teams from different cities. I missed being able to compete against someone besides people in my own league. But, again, for personal reasons I decided not to go back. Something just didn't feel right. I didn't have the same kind of motivation. I didn't feel any connection or chemistry.

Oddly enough, I was plenty motivated and interested in my regular home team the Oakland Outlaws. We've played two home games (against ShEvil Dead and the Wrecking Belles) and two away games (Port City and Humboldt) and are currently sitting pretty with three out of four wins for the season. Even with the one loss to the Richmond Wrecking Belles, I wasn't devastated. I was happy during the game and proud of the hard work we put in. I felt lighter without the extra pressure of the All-Star team.

Still, I enjoy playing. I like to be involved. I've been a longtime supporter of the Sonoma league. My sister skated with them and my boyfriend John often refs for their games. I often participated and organized scrimmages against Sonoma and B.A.D. teams. I like the atmosphere of their league and I always have fun around them.

At some point, a few of the girls joked that maybe I should skate for their travel team now. I laughed at first. But then I thought about it. What is there to hold me back from playing on two leagues? B.A.D. passed a bylaw last year that allowed a skater to play on another league as long as the skater wasn't on two WFTDA all-star teams.

So I decided to go for it!

Sure, the distance and the extra committment is tough. But so far, it's totally doable. Although it takes me an hour to get to Rohnert Park for Sonoma practice, on weekday nights it would take me about 45 minutes in traffic to get to my regular practice. For both practices I have to cross a bridge ($4 for the Bay Bridge, $6 for the Golden Gate Bridge). It is a little pricier in the gas mileage to get to Rohnert Park versus Oakland. But as I have family in that area, I'm trying to coincide family dinners and visits to take the sting out a little. I'm also always trying to subtly encourage my Bay Area leaguemates to carpool with me to Sonoma so we can share the costs. What I really need is a derby girl in Marin who wants to carpool up!

It may also seem like it's too much practice to handle. But I do a rotating system. One week I go to one Sonoma practice and two BAD practices. The next week I'll go to two Sonoma and one BAD practice. Maybe the third week, I'll just do one of each. That way I'm still clocking five - six practices for Sonoma and six for BAD. Also, each league allows their skaters to accumulate two or three extra credit practices per month so really my claimable totals are over 50 % for each league. Not so bad, right?

I'm still doing committee work and flyering for both leagues. So far, I'm able to get by. I just need to be able to monitor my level of committment and make the best out of the time and energy I can offer to both sides.

It helps that I'm feeling really good about everything right now. Things with the Outlaws are running smoothly as usual. And I've felt completely welcomed into the Sonoma fold. I have a lot of fun at their practices. It's funny cause I thought that all roller derby teams would be the same. But the practice dynamic is completely different! I can't say that I prefer one teams way over the other. It's nice to have the variety. I've spent the last four years essentially doing the same thing with the same people week in and week out. They always say that the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. By throwing a new pattern and a new style into my derby routine, I think I'm improving in my skills and mindset.

I am finding it difficult to match my attitude toward the specific group attitude. Sonoma tends to be more laidback and unusual while Oakland tends to be more tightly scheduled and regimented. I've been struggling to switch to a more mellow, fun-loving mood in Rohnert Park. I need to remind myself to let go a little and have some fun. Back in Oakland, I sometimes find myself wanting to do Sonoma warm-ups and drills when I'm supposed to be digging hard and fast and non-stop whistles. Then I have to remind myself to get serious and stop smiling at everyone. Ideally, I'd love to blend the two but I'm also enjoying having the best of both worlds at the moment.

I'm looking forward to the next few months as I continue to play within the BAD league this summer and I'm also looking forward to playing Sac, Central Coast, and others as a Wine Country Homewrecker. There is a possibility that Sonoma may end up playing a BAD team later on this summer. If it's Oakland, I will not skate for either team. Maybe I could announce instead. If it's the All-Star team, I also would not play as I consider that a conflict of interest. However, if it's Richmond or San Francisco...I'm not quite sure what I'll do. I think I'd like to play them as a Sonoma player. Would that be considered disloyal? I already play against them all the time as an Outlaw. Isn't it the same thing but a different uniform? Hmmmmm. I'll have to chew on that for awhile.

I'm not sure what to expect from my decision to play both sides of the Bay. I'm sure some people will think it's cool, some people will think it's lame, and most people won't care at all. I'm hoping everyone falls into that last category. It's just roller derby! We're all here for the same thing: To play, to party, to have fun, and to make friends! If you can afford the time and the driving and the work to be in two organizations, I say there's nothing wrong with that! Bring on the derby!

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