Here we are. Another tournament season (6 on the calendar right now) is upon us and the sun is shining (peeks outside, nope, that’s a lie) and I’m gearing up for travel season. Looking back at my post season wrap up, I feel pretty good about how I stayed focused on some of my goals. I had a rough off season. Some of you are aware of the reasons for that; it wasn’t an easy decision I had to make this winter and it left me considering retirement. I didn’t, obviously, and I’m focused on tournament travel this season but that won’t leave me much time to do the things locally like I did last season (that balance thing, it’s tricky), which makes me sadder than I thought it would.

I admit I haven’t been training like I want . I blame this nonsense:

The Ridiculousness of Winter

We got over two feet of snow around Christmas

But if we are being honest, the S.A.D got the best of me and I found training indoors during bad weather wasn’t my thing. Oh well. Today’s a new day, right? Right. *noshes quiche and raspberry cake for brekkie*

I’ve managed to have a couple of good derby adventures this pre-season, mostly thanks to the support of the Hubs and some good friends. I drove to Denver twice; once alone and once with some ladies; for a couple of double headers at the new shared facility Denver Roller Derby and Rocky Mountain Rollergirls put together. It’s cozy and I’ve felt more welcomed than I could have hoped. It’s great to work with my Denver friends outside a tournament structure where we aren’t all on different crews or so tired we are just hanging on until the next game.  It’s been so long since I’ve had mentors that weren’t at tournaments that making the six hour drive monthly isn’t a hardship. They are also really funny and provide way too much food in then locker room, but don’t tell anyone, because then everyone will want to work there.

There’s the added bonus of culture and good food in a big city after a long dry spell of no travel outside our tiny town. We hit Syrup Denver for breakfast and the Denver Art Museum on our most recent trip before heading back home.


They are not messing around with that crack bacon


My Ladies


We Had…a Drive


I learned to ski. It was kind of a random thing. The fifth grade classes here are offered three weeks of lessons at our local ski-hill and I ended up being a chaperone for the school I’m at which got me three weeks of free lessons with a group of the students I work with. It is IMPOSSIBLE to give up on a hard thing when there are 8 ten-year olds cheering you on from the sidelines. My own wee one was in a different class for the three weeks so we went back and did it again yesterday. She never ceases to amaze me with her fearlessness. And I had no idea I could make my body take on something new this late in the game, I don’t know why I’m still surprised by this.


So here we are.  I get to do some pretty badass things this year.  I’ll be talking about each of the tournaments I do: leading up to them, breaking them down after, and hopefully a bit during. I want to be better at documenting how I feel this year, just as an overall part of my growth, and so new officials and friends can see what it’s like for this one slice (me) of the official life. I’m also planning a few other fun things (backpacking and a race) so those will go up.  Maybe this will be the year I find a voice for the things that have been simmering for the last three seasons that I’ve been too afraid to share until now. Who knows.

I’ve tried so many new things this winter, and a lot of that has to do with the zero fucks I give about failing. In my 20s, I was so worried about failing and what someone else might think if I did. I don’t care what anyone else thinks now, I just don’t want to let myself down.



I hate to admit that this is my post season wrap up because it means I’m admitting I won’t commit to anymore derby for the next several weeks. I usually pick up the odd game, a traditional (and favorite) tournament and this or that event throughout November and December, but I told myself that I’d take November off of games and just focus on practice and CrossFit so.. here we are in wrap up! What? Okay. This is fine, this is fine.

Number of games… That’s tough, I don’t remember and my games doc is sketchy at best. I think between 40-60 though. I hit 100 lifetime at some point in September apparently. There were some double headers starting in February and some random pickups all summer combined with The Big O (I flew on a plane!), Mayhem, and Monsoon Madness. I achieved my goal from when I started officiating in 2016 and reffed D1 Women’s Flat Track. So now new goals are set. I’ve HRd more than I ever thought I would have and I’ve learned that even though I like it, it’s not my favorite. My favorite role on the track is OPR (more on that in a bit). I have made a LOT of new friends. Really supportive ones who have helped me over one of the hardest two years of my life. They may not even know they did, but they did.


She’s basically Super

I have goals for next season: Focus in on OPRing. That is a tough decision to make because applying to tournaments as an OPR often means I’m put into the Alternate position rotation. Fewer games in a weekend for the same price of the travel. This is the position I really love doing, however, and if I’m going to pursue certification and eventual endorsement in any role, it is this one. I will still work on all the other roles, but this one is my bae.

42546729_2003674863004669_4499886434869575680_oPhoto Credit: Derby With Recess Photography Maybe I should work on my ref face next season….

Balance. I applied to twice as many tournaments as I went to this season. Why? because that is what I was taught you do. You will only get into to half as many as you apply to. The problem? I was accepted into every tournament I applied to. EVERY SINGLE ONE. This left me in some conundrums. I had to turn down one because it conflicted with a very important family trip. I had pneumonia for nearly eight weeks after that leaving me unable to attend another one. I received acceptance to a third very close to it’s date and decided to decline it due to financial reasons. So next year I’m going to risk applying to fewer and getting into half. It’s a huge risk, but one I have to take. That felt bad; turning down things I wanted to attend and letting down those staffers. So balance. I went backpacking, took family vacations, and still managed to do a lot of derby. It’s okay to do less, I’ll still meet my goals.


The weekend I couldn’t make a tournament turned into backpacking with my family and friends, not too shabby

Post season: I allowed myself to be talked out of applying to post season by a very toxic individual in my community. I’ve cut this person out, but the damage was done. I think I could have reffed a Continental Cup this year. Or done an alternate role at one of the Men’s events. I will apply to something post season next year. Even if I’m turned down. Shoot for the stars, land on the moon. I have really supportive mentors encouraging me to reach high, even if I don’t stick the landing quite yet, what’s the worst that can happen?


International? It isn’t off the table.

I will be kind to new officials. I don’t think I get to call myself new anymore. I think I’m a lightly seasoned official with plenty still to learn and some to offer to new officials in their first years on the circuit. I will not introduce myself with my games history. I will not introduce myself with a number of games I’ve worked or how many I still have to go. I will ask new officials who they are and what they do outside of derby. I will listen to them discuss their goals and ask them if there is anything I can do to help them reach those goals. I will discuss with them the successes I have had balancing life and derby. I will ask the names of their partners/pets/children, favorite movies, songs or books. We are in this as a hobby that turns career like too quickly. I will not contribute to the same toxic environment that nearly drove me out in my first six months of officiating. I will be a good listener and empathetic teacher.


Derby Zebra is Wise and Zen

I will continue to learn, to grow, to admit when I am wrong, to be a good crew mate, to take feedback well and to take responsibility for my own growth and learning process. I want to be stronger and faster on the track and have strength and race goals to help with that. I want next season to be full of positive, growth mindset experiences and fewer fixed mindset moments.


Achievement Unlocked: Crew for my first Division 1 Tournament in Phoenix, Az.

Photo Credit: Derby With Recess Photography

So that’s it. That’s the wrap up! Time to off season like a champ, starting with catching up on some WoW and Doctor Who. I’m going to start a running training program because???Reasons? so wish me luck on that, I guess. And look for tournament announcements as I get accepted (or not, it’s all part of the process) in the coming months. What’s your off season plan? I would love to hear from other officials about their goals and processes. Leave me a note below.


cycle of tournament apps coming out during off season! I get it, we need to plan. But ugh, I hate looking at plane tickets while I am still recovering from a long season and just want to unwind. And before you jump on me about “Well, don’t travel,” for the millionth time. I have to travel to meet my goals. Four leagues in my state and not a one sanctioning games next year. Tournaments are the best way for me to not break my budget by going one weekend and getting 6-8 games in. So here I am, checking prices on rental cars, hotels and planes when I just want to light a fire, listen to Hallowgivingmas music and recover from being sick.

Derby, why can’t I quit you?

Some things you don’t come back from. The door stood open just a smidge. Just a tiny crack letting enough of the muffled voices and light from the other side leak out and entice Sara to inch closer to satiate her curiosity. This was one of those moments. It looked so innocent: some eavesdropping done in a less than malicious just this side of harmless way by a seven year old in footy jammies holding a stuffed bear named Poo, not Pooh. She just wondered what the men wanted from Daddy and why everyone was still awake after midnight and not so innocently if she could get Daddy in a pickle with Mommy like the time she’d overheard him say those naughty things to Jimmie’s mom during carpool  pick up before Christmas. She was still angry that he’d left her. She still got upset that she had to pack a suitcase every other week and Mommy dropped her at this little apartment on the other side of town so far away from her friends that she couldn’t even ride her bike to see them and she had to give up her Saturdays sitting in the pawn shop with him instead. It smelled bad in the shop; like someone put out a cigarette in a can of beer then left it sitting in the sun too long and then poured it all over the walls. She hated it.

So now she was listening. Listening out of childish curiosity and defiance. she couldn’t know it would be one of those things she wouldn’t come back from. At seven, you don’t think that far ahead. You think that everything will eventually be something that can be undone. Washing machines cleaned your clothes when you got cherry slushy on your favorite shirt.  You threw up and felt better when you were sick. Your friend who hated you at recess was your best friend again by lunch. Everything was something that could be undone, because her adults had always undone it for her and she believed this to be the way of the world. She couldn’t know that standing here now would change everything, so she leaned in and she listened.

I’ve been up since about 3:30 this morning, lying in bed wishing I could actually finish a night’s sleep and wondering if maybe I should be working nights somewhere since it seems like I’m never going to be sleeping again anyway.

It’s funny what our brains can put together in those hours when we should be sleeping but can’t. I think a lot about the bridges I’ve burned and whether I can rebuild any of them or if the damage is too great. I think about family a lot. Friends. People I barely know who maybe I have hurt with my words or actions. I think about the people everywhere hurting right now and I can’t help but draw back to my incredibly religious upbringing and wonder if the doomsayers are right and we’re in some sort of End Times. I don’t believe it for a moment, but my brain creates pretty scenarios when the sun is starting to rise.

Today we head down to SF for some appointments and chores. It’s not how either of us wants to spend the day or the week (we go back Wednesday for more cancer followups) but it is what it is. Nothing exciting or special. Just another Monday.IMG_9401

Took a one day trip to Durango two weeks ago, helped train new skaters at Skate School for the local league the next Sunday and now I’m headed to Abq for another game tonight. I forgot how much derby I can do when I’m not drowning in my own fluids. Oh, and I do NOT have tuberculosis, so sorry not sorry, no Huckleberries here.

As promised, a less meaty post…sort of.

Let’s rewind to May, the start of tournament season for this ref in 2018. Actually, a little further back than that. I applied to four tournaments this season and was accepted into five. NO CLUE how that happened. Unfortunately one aligned with a huge family reunion and I got really sick (Pneumonia that ended up requiring hospitalization at one point) and had to drop out of the other two. This was a really hard thing for me. When I started, it was made clear, if you turn down a tournament you are NEVER GETTING INTO THAT TOURNAMENT AGAIN. And possibly not into any others. Huge false. I’ve been invited to apply to six more and straight up invited to a seventh. So, something good has changed there. I think as the OG refs leave the sport and are less and less able to “gate the content” so to speak, we are going to see positive changes.

The two tournaments I was lucky enough to get to were The Big O in Eugene, Oregon and Mayday Mayhem in Loveland, Colorado. I cannot believe I got into the first and I am so glad I swallowed my reservations and went to the second. Both were such a good marker of the progress I’ve made as an official and I got to work with some standout people at both.

I don’t really have much to say beyond tournaments are so important for those of us growing up in the derby officiating world and I’m lucky that I’ve made some connections that continue to help me find the right ones to fit me. and my learning style. Big O exposed me to some really awesome people who showed me that it’s okay to give the jammer her points like she earned them, that I DO know the rules and regulations better than I’m led to believe at home and that I’ve grown rapidly as an official. I have a ways to go but I’m not afraid to ring my own bell at this point. I held my own at some high level stuff, was staffed as a Crew Head at the biggest tournament on the west coast and showed real growth from one year to the next at Mayhem.

I have applications into two more and I’m going to a third tournament all in the last part of fall this year, so please, keep reading and watching for more as I try to focus in on what really matters going into 2019: being the best goddamn official I can. Continental Cups/Playoffs 2019? I’m looking at you.

I plan to come back to a few things this coming week, including two tournaments, a family vacation and some realizations I’ve had about where I want my future to go. Right now, I know if I don’t get this post down, I never will. It’s fear that holds me back from this discussion, but with encouragement, I’ve decided it’s well past time.

I talk about derby a lot. I started writing about derby on this blog as I was transitioning out of skating as a team member for my local league and into officiating. When I started, my goals were pretty big. I wanted to ref playoffs, maybe even champs. I had excellent mentors locally. Two referees who had been certified through our national organization, traveled a lot and brought their knowledge home to me. Through a series of events in that first six months, those two officials became incredibly jaded against the certification process, rightfully so. This isn’t their story. This is about me. I suddenly found that my goals were something to be made fun of. That if I wanted certification, playoffs, recognition, that was laughable, because the system was (and possibly still is) corrupt. Unfortunately, I let that sink in pretty deep. I gave up on those goals. I would never be “that” official. The work needed, the travel required. It was so far beyond the reach of someone like me, out here in a state full of D3 leagues spread hours apart, that I was really an idiot to want those things.

Last year something changed towards the end of my season. Suddenly, during a few tournaments, I was getting feedback like “why aren’t you doing these tournaments?” “You’re a solid official with a lot of potential.” “I want you to apply for this tournament I’m in charge of.”

What? Me? But I’m a nobody. I mean, look at the way my friends had been treated, wouldn’t I be betraying them if I did the things that they did only to be shit on? Wouldn’t that be a slap in the face after what they went through? So I went into to December of last year ready to quit. Because I had no goals. And I had no local mentors. I hadn’t received positive feedback at home in over six months. I only got actionable feedback at tournaments. I was depressed. I had given up.

Derby did what it always does though and I found myself planning for this season, despite the depression. I reached out to a Tournament Head I had worked with to ask a simple question “If a newer official were to apply to one tournament next season, what would you recommend.” He asked if I was the official and when I said yes, the answer was definite and quick, “The Big O.” I laughed out loud, literally, because that was not a tournament I had on my radar at all for someone like me. It’s a BIG deal. It’s a known game changer for our sport, teams and the officials who attend. But I applied anyway. And I got in. And it was a game changer.

I walked away from The Big O with my goals suddenly screaming from the far back shelves of my brain where I’d carefully curated them along with several other failed dreams. They wanted out. They wanted room up front. They wanted attention. And I, reluctantly and fearfully, started listening. I followed up Big O with another tournament I had attended last season and the feedback from that was outstanding. The things they saw in my last year had come to fruition. I am well on my way to becoming a good official. I just need access to the level of play that will get me to there. That isn’t happening in New Mexico, sadly.

I realized that I was accepted into every tournament I applied for this season. Including Junior Roller Derby Association’s Championships and World Cup in Philadelphia. I was invited to two more tournaments I thought well outside my reach. I was supported when I made a decision to turn down a tournament I really wanted to do because it conflicted with family plans. I was encouraged to apply for certification. I was encouraged. I hadn’t been encouraged since those first couple of months of officiating. But here I am now, ready to reach out for those goals again.

Now comes the hard part. I have a plan in my head. It starts with applying to several of the tournaments I was unable to attend this year. It involves training with the closest D1 and D2 leagues, which, unfortunately, are six hours a way in Denver. It involves continuing to train and teach the officials at home that rely on me to bring my knowledge home, just like those friends did for me when I first started, before shit went south. It involves travel, balance, and, you guessed it, money.

When I was part of the team I skated with, I had no qualms about asking for sponsorship money, donations, fundraising and the like. I had no issue giving money to skaters for clinics and training. I had no problem asking for money for things our league needed, even though we were a sub-D3 farm league who rarely traveled, never outside of New Mexico when I was on the team. When I moved into officiating, the culture shifted. Suddenly I was doing things well above what I’d ever done as a team skater. I was officiating higher and higher levels of play. I was included in Junior playoffs and Champs last season. I did all of this on my own dime. It was laughable when I suggested I needed a sponsor. I was LITERALLY laughed at when I suggested I needed financial help to meet my goals, after all, all the skaters pay to play.

The difference is what I mentioned above. The leagues use the money the skaters pay in to help skaters get where they are going. They have sponsors to pay for uniforms and in some cases new gear. They ask for donations and do fundraisers to pay for travel for their travel team. Why do we, as officials, treat ourselves differently? Especially considering that most officials in other sports actually make a salary to do so. I get gas stipends to go to and from Albuquerque, but beyond that, I do not get paid to officiate Roller Derby. A sport that has gone mainstream enough to land itself on ESPN does not pay its officials. We are expected to grow, learn, become good enough to go to those playoff/champs games, all without the support of a league, union, organization, team. We do it alone, for the most part.

I can’t speak for everyone. I know some leagues will help cover the expenses of the officials who travel with them to games. Or will give officials who have been accepted into playoffs or higher money to get there, regardless of the league’s standing at those events. I can only speak for me. I’m out here on my own. I don’t have travel companions. I go alone to all of these events. The airfare, gas, hotels, food and gear expenses fall directly on my shoulders and mine alone. I sleep on beds offered by other officials when I can. I eat at the venue, and not much else besides that on most trips. I am debating whether the model to reach my goals is actually sustainable without help. I don’t think it is.

So I’m asking for help. It sucks. I HATE asking for help. But if I were still part of the team, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask. I would not, for one minute, be above knocking on every door to get the money my team needs to get where they need to go. So I have to ask myself, why is it bad to ask for help now? I don’t think it is. I could be wrong, and I expect to hear a lot of feedback supporting that.

What am I asking for? I’m asking for anything you might want to do to help. A kind word, a dollar or two, a share of this post. I’m asking you to consider that I’m not alone in this world of officiating without pay in roller derby. How are your officials doing at home? Are they getting the support they need financially? Is your league sitting on funds they could share with those officials when they go to tournaments that make them better officials? Are you a skater who has gotten help from a league when you needed to travel and couldn’t? Can you return the favor now? If not to me directly, somewhere in the officiating community?

I’m going to put a pay-pal link up on this blog. And It’s going to stay there. The money I get will go directly to cover travel expenses to the tournaments I have agreed to do this year and anything I get above and beyond those needs will help my plan out next season. I won’t use the money for gear, clothing or food. It will be used directly to cover Airfare, gas and lodging only.

In return, I promise that I will bring my knowledge to any new official who wants to learn. I will teach them what I know, treat them with dignity as they grow and make their own goals and do whatever is in my power to pay forward everything that’s been done for me and then some. I will do my part to end the officiating crisis regionally and beyond as much as I can.

That’s it. That’s the hard part out of the way.  I’ll be posting about my experience at The Big O and Mayday Mayhem in the coming days. I just got back from an amazing trip to see family too, that is going to be a fun one to write up.

Thank you for the ear.

Let’s talk about derby today. It was another weekend of derby this past weekend. I drove the 90ish miles south to Albuquerque to ref a double header. Neither game was sanctioned. The visiting team, from Colorado, played the travel team from Abq. Then there was a mashup/home team game. We were working with the usual: a not quite fully staffed game with several newbies both on and off skates. It wasn’t high pressure though, bragging rights games, that’s what I like to call anything non-sanctioned where standings aren’t affected by the outcome. The HR did the best they could to staff strong people in their strong roles while still giving some room for the newer officials to learn. Ditto the HNSO. During the captain’s meeting, they brought it to the attention of both teams that there were a lot of newbies on the track, they’d do their best to make sure the game went as close to book as possible, but teachable moments would, as usual, be taken advantage of. The only request the HOs had? Keep it civil. Don’t beat up on the officials. Bring issues to the center. You know, like we do in derby.

The first game started and it was clearly a mismatch. I’m not knocking any skills or skaters here. There was just an obvious difference in play style and skill and it became apparent quite early that one team had the advantage. The skaters never lost their shit. They stayed classy af despite what would soon become a blowout. They played 100%, took penalties with grace and were, from my perspective, having a blast. That’s derbs. It is one of the things I like about it. Players are just happy they get to PLAY.

But something wasn’t quite right. The coach from one of the teams was gradually, then rapidly, declining in civility to the point that we could see the veins standing out on his neck and bulging in his forehead. He wasn’t angry with his skaters (or maybe he was and I didn’t notice that part because of what came next) he was angry with the officiating. CLEARLY and LOUDLY upset with us. His tantrums went from moderately annoying to downright distracting in a rapid devolution of character. He was joined in his antics by a woman who has yet to be identified as actual coaching staff, but who gave off the appearance of staff; carrying a clipboard and shouting instructions from turn four. I’m not going to go into their behavior in detail. It was beyond what I’ve seen here at home since I quit working with a particular coach down this way.

Everything is handled. The game finished with no harm to any skaters. The HOs are handling a grievance against this staff. It’s all done. But I thought I could talk about why this sort of behavior is completely and utterly unacceptable in our sport. Just in case someone out there thinks it’s okay.

We were training on Saturday. I’ve said it before, NM, and derby in general, has an officiating CRISIS. We just aren’t enough to go around. In New Mexico there are currently only a handful of full time refs and NSOs who aren’t also skaters or who train with any sort of regularity. Even if all of us were able to come together on game day, there would not be a full crew of officials who strictly officiate. This year our focus, along with three of the northern leagues, is recruiting, training and retaining officials. It’s a lot of hard work and coordination. We have to overcome the fact that most of the highly trained officials are 90 minutes away from the urban area that needs us the most. New Mexico is a very poor state and attracting people to a rather expensive (gear, travel, etc) hobby is difficult, especially when they find out there’s no money involved. We do everything we can to give our new officials a good experience. And when dickholes like these guys come down and treat us all like garbage, it undoes a lot of hard work and effort. We simply cannot afford to have people like this involved with the people we are training.

This behavior is, unfortunate, one I see more and more. For every league, team, or coach out there putting in the good work to retain officials, I run into a coach or team that thinks we are shit, in their way, not necessary, have it “easy”, don’t need or want practice time or space, etc, etc. I’ve addressed all this before and I will again down the road. But today it’s about the coaching staff. Skaters, if you want any of us, any official, to come work your games, keep your coaches in check. I’m not talking about the polite assholery I see on occasion. I’m talking about the kind that makes me want to leave a game 20 minutes early. If your coach is screaming, yelling, being abusive, breaking clipboards, losing their temper and it is not longer fun? I will leave.

I hate seeing misconduct penalties go to a perfectly polite skater on behalf of a douchebag coach, but if this is what it takes to get you to sit up and take notice and hold your staff to a higher standard, I will, by all means, start handing those out.  I don’t want anyone to have to stop playing derby, but I will never again put up with the behavior I saw this weekend. I have been very patient. I’ve worked very hard to get a thicker skin and not take things personally and I have had some oh so gloriously thought out insults slung my way,  so believe me when I say this was above what I was able to tolerate. I appreciate how our Head Officials have handled this. I agree with their decisions on game day and how that was handled. I don’t get paid to do this. I do not have to take the same level of disrespect someone with a union, salary, health insurance and grievance committee may be willing to take. I do this because I want YOU to have a safe, fun, game. I want derby to happen, but if your coach is a dick, don’t be surprised when it doesn’t

I’ve been watching the events around the Men’s Roller Derby Association World Cup unfold this last week thoughtfully and patiently weighing my feelings and wondering if they were even worth sharing. I have a lot of mixed bag feelings and writing seems to be the easiest way to soothe these feelings so I figure, why the hell not?

For those that aren’t familiar with the story, some skaters and a coach made a rather poor decision in the final game of the MRDWC last week. It has created more than a gentle stirring of the pot. I think a lot of that has to do with how quickly social media allows us to express our emotions and feelings and how something seemingly small at the moment can quickly ignite riotous feelings, especially when the seemingly small thing, in this case writing the number of a teammate on a leg or arm, can create a whirlwind of socially charged feedback.

The teammate in question had removed themselves from play amidst allegations of sexual misconduct, so writing their number in a show of support was a pretty stupid move. I’m not saying these folks can’t support their friend. I am saying that in a public setting, representing Team USA on a global stage, you don’t verbally, visually or in any other way, support someone who is accused of sexual misconduct. You just don’t. It was a dick move. End of story there.

Rightfully so, many of those who have been victims of sexual abuse, rape, or harassment, feel incredibly hurt and in some cases, re-victimized. It has created a public outcry the likes of which I have yet to see in derby. Hopefully something good comes out of it.

Now, I’m glossing over just what a shit show this has all been. Apologies are trickling out. Statements are being made. Sponsorships and reputations have been lost. Teams are boycotting playing with these skaters. Some really deep lines in the sand are being drawn. I don’t have a “side” in this fight. If you want my personal story, please reach out, I’m happy to share with you. If you decide to make a judgment about me and who I must be after reading my words without ever really knowing me, well, that is where we have landed in the days of social media and 140 character bios. We all think we know what’s going on behind the keyboard based on a few choice words and images. That’s a discussion for another day. Without further ado…

To the Skaters of MRDA,

I’m watching you. I have worked with  you and have seen very sincere efforts on your part to curb what has been termed “toxic masculinity”. I am grateful for you and all your efforts to do so. I hope you continue to do so. I believe in the power of all of us to do good, better, to be our best. Keep calling yourselves out. Keep calling out your teammates. Keep being funny, polite, intense athletes. Keep your heads high, keep changing and growing. I see and value your efforts. I believe in rewarding the behavior I want to see. I’ll continue to let you know when you are doing awesome and when you are failing miserably.  Those of  you who chose to wear that particular number on a part of yourselves at World Cup, that is a perfect example of failing miserably. You wanted to support your friend, there were better, less harmful ways to do so. You showed incredibly poor judgment. You hurt people. Own up to it quickly please.

To the teammates who saw this (or any other shitty move) happening and didn’t know how or chose not to speak out against it, please do better next time. If you need help being strong or finding a voice, let your allies around the world help you. You aren’t alone and I recognize that some of you may be just as intensely bullied by these handful of dickwads as the rest of the world currently feels. I see you. You aren’t alone. We can make change happen together.

To the those of you who have made mistakes and sincerely want to change; let’s chat. My internet door is always open. I’m happy to tell you what I see working and what is just more of the same shit, different day. If you make a mistake, own that mistake and seek forgiveness, you’ll get it from me nine times out of ten. Every single one of us has done something we regret or said something we wish we could take back. I see you and I see you working for forgiveness.

Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean you get to keep derby. I’m not sorry about that. If you have crossed a line that cannot be uncrossed, forgiveness, while possible, does not mean you get to have continued access to a potentially vulnerable population. It is time to move on.  It is the job of this community to keep each other safe, and sometimes, even when we don’t want to, it means we have to see someone we once liked or respected to the door.  Thank you for going quietly. To those of us demanding someone exit, please, please be sure that what you’re asking for is reasonable. I am not suggesting we let predators have free reign, I am simply asking us all to give those who make offense* a chance to learn and change. If they do not, the door is that way.

Now that I’ve said that little bit, a few more thoughts. I’ve seen calls to quit working men’s derby. I just won’t.  I will not punish an entire organization because a handful of people are shitheads. I will call out, reprimand, demand change, compliment good behavior, and encourage growth and I will do so with every fiber of my being. I will continue to ref MRDA games. I will continue to work to keep my crews safe and to keep the skaters on the track safe. I will do this even if it means I have to remove my services from certain venues, certain teams, certain skaters. I will not punish an entire group because of the actions of a few but I will not support those who aren’t making efforts to get their houses cleaned. My decision to continue supporting Men’s Roller Derby does not mean I don’t empathize with the victims. It does not mean I condone the actions of the few who’ve dicked things up for the many.  You don’t have to like it, but I hope we can talk about why I believe that rewarding the positive changes and behaviors will lead to quicker and more lasting changes than constantly throwing the baby out with the bathwater or slamming outreached hands in doors.

Let’s do better. All of us. We can, I know it.



* please believe that I am not talking about sexual assault when I say “offense”. I’ve just seen too many people to quickly offended by the smallest off-color remark. How will anyone learn or grow if we simply boot them to the curb every time they make a reparable mistake?