COVIDerby Blues

I’m feeling the void these days. Here I am in my “home” state feeling gosh darn lonely. I put home in parenthesis because I don’t really have a home state. I did my last two years of high school in New Jersey and left for college soon after graduation. I come to NJ simply to visit family but it has never felt like home. So of course, just like with every state I’ve moved to, I joined the nearest roller derby league. They let me be on the charter and we were prepping for our March 29th bout together. I was learning names, meeting new people and starting to feel pretty good about my new temporary home. Then Covid-19 happened… 

Poof! Just like that, practices for the rest of March are cancelled along with the tournament. I feel like a lot of us are in the same boat. No matter what country you call home, roller derby enthusiasts everywhere have suddenly lost their “happy place.” However, just because we should stay 2 meters away from each other or in some cases can’t leave our homes (shout out to the Italians!), it doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected and have some fun. Technology plus social media can be a beautiful thing!! So here’s a list of ideas to stay entertained while #survivingrollerderbyshutdown

  • Do derby drills in your house and post the vids to social media
  • Host an online workout with your derby friends (zoom is a nifty conference app)
  • Draw something derby related and share with your social peeps
  • Go on an outdoor skate together (keep your distance and wash your hands after)
  • Start a workout challenge (countdown to next practice) and let others know when you’ve completed your daily workout
  • Submit video clips and make a league compilation video for your league social page

These are just a few ideas, but I’m excited to see what everyone comes up with. Share your social content using the hashtags #survivingrollerderbyshutdown and #coviderby so others around the world can follow along! 

– Jukes

This is my blog. There are many like it, but this one is mine…

Please note, that my opinions, within this blog post and all future blog posts, are just that, my opinions. If you disagree with anything I say, please feel free to engage in respectful dialogue in the comment section below. I can also be reached at Thanks for joining me on my blog-venture!!

Let’s Talk Communication

Being a teammate can be hard sometimes

Communication doesn’t need to just happen on the track. Roller derby leagues are organizations. They need to function efficiently, put on events and raise money. However, when you put a group of folk together on a regular basis, tensions can flare. It can be frustrating at times, but that is a simple fact of combining people of differing interpersonal skills (and lets face it…tact). 

The not so secret ingredient for keeping tensions low within a league is respectful communication. With emphasis on “respectful”. I’ve seen many a conversation explode due to  one disrespectful or inflammatory comment added after hurt feelings. Communication is hard, but important. 

There are a lot more leagues choosing to handle the majority of league communication on a forum or private Facebook page. This is fine, but there’s something about written communication behind a computer screen. It somehow makes people forget that they are talking to another human with feelings. We’ve all seen it. If you scroll through social media you’re bound to find at least one post that is a dumpster fire of emotions riddled with popcorn eating memes. It’s become the norm on social media today. However, it shouldn’t become the norm within our leagues and derby community. 

So what defines effective communication? 

The first tidbit for effective communication is listening. I mean truly listening. You ever hear an inflammatory 5 second sound bite on the news and then hear the rest of the story and realize it was blown way out of proportion or miss represented the person who made the comment? Now think of a moment when someone has said something that struck a nerve with you. In that very moment you might have started formulating a sharp response to that comment. However, while you’re conjuring up the response the person is still talking and you’re missing all of the other points that they are making. Perhaps they are giving you insight into why they think a certain way. Give the person a chance to finish their statement, truly listen to each and every word then respond with empathy. 

Yes, empathy is tidbit number two. Let’s be real, we don’t know everything there is to know about all of our teammates (nor do we probably want to). We don’t know their upbringing, their current state of affairs, their fears, or their desires. All of these things and more play a role in why they say the things they do. Set aside your emotions and preconceived notions about the person and communicate with an open and understanding mind.

Perception rains supreme 

Keep in mind, that we ALL want what is best for our leagues. However, what’s best for the league can differ from person to person because we all see things through a different lens. We have different life experiences that shape our leadership and decision making styles. It’s okay and very normal to disagree. Just remember that perception is everything; doesn’t matter what you “meant” by your words or actions. What matters is how those words and actions are “perceived” by others. 

How does your league handle interpersonal issues? 

– Jukes

This is my blog. There are many like it, but this one is mine…

Please note, that my opinions, within this blog post and all future blog posts, are just that, my opinions. If you disagree with anything I say, please feel free to engage in respectful dialogue in the comment section below. I can also be reached at Thanks for joining me on my blog-venture!!

How NOT to Start a Road Trip

Have you heard? I’m going on a road trip. My goal is to visit all 50 states in the US, skate with one derby team in each state, and update The List of teams while I’m at it. Did you also hear that I’m converting a school bus into an RV? I sure am, and I plan to use my newly made house on wheels during my road trip. Did you hear that my bus broke down on my last day in the Army and the day before I was supposed to start my trip home? Isn’t life a dick sometimes? (no offense to those who own dicks) 

The start of this adventure has been a series of unfortunate yet comedic events. It started out with my bus breaking down. That was a memorable moment. My bus is tiny. A wee little 15 passenger vehicle. Now imagine me in my tiny bus entering onto the highway at 65mph then immediately losing speed. I have a semi truck barreling towards me at 70mph and my bus has decided that 35mph is the fastest it will go and it’s quickly losing more speed. I turn on my hazard lights and pull over to the side of the road and the semi truck zooms past me shaking my whole vehicle. So here I am stranded. That was unfortunate event number 1. I survived, thanks to the help of friends. 

You might be thinking well that was unfortunate, but I’m not seeing the comedy. Ah well let me regale you with unfortunate event number 2. It takes 3 weeks for my bus to be fixed. Considering I needed a complete install of a new engine and it broke down right before Christmas it could have taken longer. At the end of the 3 weeks I go and pick up my vehicle. It turns on and sounds like a dream. I’m happy. Like really really happy. I drive away and I kid you not, maybe five minutes later my check engine light turns on and my oil gauge dramatically drops into the red. The engine starts sounding rough and the smell of smoke starts filling my nostrils. I’ve got to pull over quick before I destroy this brand new engine (but good news my new engine came with a 3 year warranty, hurray!). I pull into a parking lot. Turn off the engine and pop the hood. It smells crispy inside and there’s oil EVERYWHERE. I look at the ground and it’s an environmentalists nightmare. Oil is spewing out of my vehicle. I call the mechanic that I just left and he says he’s on his way. As soon as I hang up the phone fire trucks surround me. I’m looking at them extremely confused as they start walking towards me. The fire chief says to me “Are you the vehicle that was on fire?” I look at him perplexed. I look at my dripping but not on fire bus then back at him. I say “I don’t think so.” He replies, “Well, we got a call that a little school bus was on fire and turned onto this road.” I laugh and look around the empty parking lot and say “I’m the only little school bus here so I guess I was on fire…how lovely.” The firemen check out my bus and we all determine that I am truly not on fire. They drop kitty litter under my bus to soak up all of the spilled oil, wish me luck and drive away. 3 weeks of waiting for my bus to be repaired only to break down again five minutes later. Such is life sometimes. 

Me staring at my bus with extreme disappointment

The mechanic fixes the bus within the hour and refills the engine with new oil. Apparently, I was missing a hose clamp. Yes, absurd. Unfortunate event number 3 is still in the works. The mechanic gave the bus a test drive after being refilled with oil and then he drove away to go on with his day. As soon as he was out of sight I notice an impressive leak from under my driver side door. This leak is orange. My coolant is orange. In this moment I nearly rage quit my life. I now have a coolant leak. I search and search but can’t find the source. It doesn’t help that my engine compartment is covered in oil. But here’s where things take a turn towards comedic levels. The next morning I check the coolant levels, and as expected they are lower than the previous day. I take my bottle of coolant out that I had stored behind the drivers seat and notice I’m spilling coolant everywhere. My bottle was punctured when the mechanic moved the seat back for a test drive. The leaking coolant under my door was coolant straight from the bottle. Now this doesn’t explain why my coolant levels were still low this fine Thursday morning, so I’m still getting my vehicle checked out…by a different mechanic. One who hopefully does not forget to attach pins. That mechanic walks up to me and says, “you’re coolant system is fine, but we have another problem…” I look at him poised to laugh. I think to myself, what else could honestly be wrong with my bus?? He continues, “I was driving the bus out of the garage when your transmission line came loose and transmission fluid poured all over the floor. So now we have to fix that and add more fluid.” Guess what caused the line to come loose my friends. Yes. Another dang hose clamp.

Here are my take aways from the last three weeks. Is my life kind of a mess right now? Yes. Am I frustrated? Yes. Am I slightly poorer than I was a month ago. Yes. But am I exactly where I should be, experiencing exactly what I should be experiencing? Yes. I firmly believe that things happen for a reason. They may not make sense in the moment and living through those experiences may be uncomfortable but you are meant to experience them. I don’t understand fully what I’m gaining from this experience, but I’m sure in due time it will click. What I do know is my schedule is completely thrown off. I was planning on starting my trip at the end of the month. At this rate that’s not going to happen. With that in mind, every amazing human being I meet from here on out is in part because of my delay. All the amazing experiences I have this year will also be related to this delay. Everything has been shifted because of this moment, but so much good can come from it. My final takeaway is, CHOOSE YOUR MECHANICS WISELY.

– Jukes

This is my blog. There are many like it, but this one is mine…

Please note, that my opinions, within this blog post and all future blog posts, are just that, my opinions. If you disagree with anything I say, please feel free to engage in respectful dialogue in the comment section below. I can also be reached at Thanks for joining me on my blog-venture!!

Focus on What is Next

The wonderful thing about the new year, is it’s a chance to reflect on the accomplishments of the previous year. Life isn’t easy. It’s full of ups, downs, and unpredictable situations. But one thing we can always count on, is so long as we’re breathing another day will go by and eventually another year will come to a close. It’s easy to get wrapped up in thinking about the things we failed to accomplish, the things we wish we had or hadn’t said, or the things we have lost. 

Did you set a goal last year and not achieve it? You know that is okay, right? You don’t have to harp on your failures. It’s a new year. Time has offered you a chance to reset and begin again. Reflect on the past year with the understanding that you are simply human, and as a human we sometimes fail. Use that reflection to adjust your goals for the new year and chase them with full speed. 2018 is done. There is no redoing it. There is only forward. 

Did you have an amazing year? Well done! Be proud of your accomplishments, but also reflect. Why was it a great year and how can you replicate your success in the new year? Set your goals and use the positive energy from the previous year to launch yourself towards that which you desire. 

For me personally, I had the most insane derby season of my life. Though I accomplished perhaps my biggest goal of the year, I can say it wasn’t all rainbows and happiness. I don’t think I truly knew what I was getting myself into when I set my mind to try out for a D1 travel team. Honestly, it was a pretty tough year. Mentally, physically, all of the above. A lot of things I’m passionate about fell to side as I focused all of my energy on derby. There are moments from the year I wish I could undo or change but in the end, as I reflect on the year, there is no doubt that I grew as a skater and as a person. Those experiences are now part of me and have shaped me into the human I am today. As I’ve sat and reviewed the last year, I know my goals will be to focus more on self care and life balance. 

Happy reflection, friends. May this new year be full of joy, growth, and accomplishment. 

This is my blog. There are many like it, but this one is mine…

Please note, that my opinions, within this blog post and all future blog posts, are just that, my opinions. If you disagree with anything I say, please feel free to engage in respectful dialogue in the comment section below. I can also be reached at Thanks for joining me on my blog-venture!!

You Are Good Enough

Always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will? -Marilyn Monroe

Have you heard of imposter syndrome? You might have heard it as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome. Whatever you call it, it’s the idea that your accomplishments are not your own; therefore, you live in fear that eventually the people around you will realize that you are a fraud and are not truly worthy of your position or praise. You’d be surprised how many people feel this way. If you think about it, it’s a bit of a mental safety mechanism. A security blanket for the brain, that way, just in case you fail, you knew in your head all along, that you never truly possessed the talents others thought you had.

Imposter syndrome can manifest itself in the work place, in your relationships, and even in roller derby. It doesn’t just affect new skaters, it can eat away at the most senior of skaters, as well. Just a few months ago I was on a team that is currently ranked near the 300s, on the wftda rankings. I have now found myself on an All-Star charter for a D1 team. Instead of celebrating nearly 6 years of hard work, my immediate thoughts were disbelief and shock. I started mentally discounting my abilities and wondering if they would soon realize…it was a mistake to choose me.

Let’s be real, division one roller derby teams don’t take their rosters lightly. They have only 20 slots to fill and you best believe they are putting serious thought into who they select. The idea that I doubted my own self worth is a bit tragic. However, I know I’m not alone. There are others out there who also second guess their life’s successes. I am here to tell you, that you are worthy of praise and you are deserving of recognition. Most importantly, never discount your abilities and achievements.

Work towards your dreams, derby fans!