Find Your Tribe… and Your Identity


Credit Sean Hale @Seanhaleyeah

I joined roller derby because I wanted to try it out. I had no real ambition of becoming a super star. I didn’t research the leagues in my area because of their WFTDA rankings. I knew nothing about the sport except the little I witnessed at a bout one night, that I wasn’t even supposed to attend except for the sole fact that my boyfriend’s cousin was getting married on the rink, and we were her guests. Roller derby sounded so foreign to me, more foreign than golf or cricket, and I never played golf or cricket.

Little did I realize how much impact this sport would have on my life. It redefined mostly everything. I owe this transformation not just to a pair of roller skates, but to the league I joined. The power of a group of skaters can change you, and bring the best out of you. I was fortunate to become a member of the Garden State Rollergirls. These ladies and gents welcomed me with open arms. I was terrified, of course. I let them guide me onto the rink, and I felt good. I didn’t feel embarrassed, or pressured to do anything except skate. Fall. Get back up. Fall again. Rinse. Repeat. Throughout my challenges, I heard encouragement, and I felt real support.

Finding the right league is crucial to a great derby experience. I heard many horror stories of leagues that didn’t really help freshies feel at home. Lots of drama. Leagues disbanded, split, or reformed someplace else with different folks… Or the same folks, trying to figure things out and not repeat the same mistakes. We are only human. I feel fortunate that the league I’m in tries its hardest to be healthy, and supports its skaters without prejudice. GSR is really my tribe!

With a tribe, comes an identity. Yesterday was the derbyversary of my derby name baptism. Finding the right derby name wasn’t something I really planned either. I honestly didn’t think I’d get a name until I made one of the teams. But here I was four months later as a freshie, brainstorming for a derby name that would be my identity on the rink and in the derbyverse. That stuff is serious. I saw people come up with really smart play on words, and celebrity names I sometimes wish I had come up with because they’re truly genius. My name is fine though. It’s funny and I like it. Plus, given the multitude of names out there, it gets harder and harder to be original.

Today, I’m thankful to have a tribe and a derby name. I play for the name in the front, so people remember the name in the back… I have good days, bad days, but overall, I see derby as my second family. It’s crazy, and amazing. I can’t really explain it. I’m just grateful to have found this sport, to have discovered and tried new things, to have met new people, and to grow, learn, always evolve. I’m not going to lie; it’s also so much fun to hit people three to four times a week!

I want to hear from you! How do you like your tribe, and your derby name? How did you come up with your identity? What does roller derby mean to you?


Follow me on Instagram @kikindateef




Thank you Quick Draw Photography 

So this past week we had tryouts for our B team. We skated almost every day for the past ten days, and ended the festivities with an awesome scrimmage, which left me tired but so happy about how far I had gotten, and how much more was left for me to do.

Results came in, and I didn’t make the B team. I’m not disappointed or sad.

Being on the B team requires a certain level I don’t have yet. This is an objective assessment of my progress, my skills, and my performance on the track. I’m extremely grateful for going through the process, and taking it all in. I’m excited to have done the 27/5 again, and managed 28.5 laps! Next target is 30.

Happiness is in the journey. I know that I will eventually make the team, just as I knew I would pass freshmeat. I keep working at it without putting myself under immense pressure that I have to succeed at all cost. I keep skating, and learning, without overburdening myself. My confidence grows with every stride.

I actually feel free today. Free to have passed that stepping stone, free to have realized I can do extraordinary things if I stop beating myself up, free to have taken that risk and gone with it, without reservations. This is not failure. There is no failure. Just another attempt to make it next time.

Being able to distance myself and not take things personally has been the greatest lesson roller derby has been teaching me this past year and a half.

I’m leaving you with these awesome pictures of our scrimmage… Never forget you are awesome for putting skates on, and trying.


Follow me on Instagram @kikindateef


Thank you Quick Draw Photography


Thank you Quick Draw Photography


Thank you Quick Draw Photography


Know your strengths, know your weaknesses 

“Confidence is key. True confidence comes from a deep awareness that one has made an effort to gather information, turned every stone, done everything to practice the craft and get strong.” Scald Eagle 

You can’t be what you want to be without knowing what you’re made of. Saying you aim at becoming the new Scald Eagle isn’t enough to help you be the star you wish to be. Dreams are important to keep the passion alive. Realistic goals are the stepping stones of your journey toward your dreams.

I hit a point in my journey where I put so much pressure on myself that I completely doubted my abilities. I didn’t differentiate between my strengths or my weaknesses. In my mind, I just wasn’t good enough.

Lexi Lightspeed recently posted on Facebook about believing in your own self. Be your own supporter.

You don’t need a wall of blockers to break yourself. If your mind sabotages you, you’re pretty much done.

I read Mind Gym and kept wondering what derby meant for me. What made me happy in derby. Then while we had a small break in between practices, I hit the skate park and didn’t think about derby at all.

I love the skate park because I get challenged in a total different way. I face myself and my fears. There’s no team to beat. No wall to break. No penalty box. Nothing but the hard unforgiving ground, and me on my eight wheels.

I find freedom at the skate park. The same freedom I find on the track when I know my strengths and weaknesses. When I skate and let go of all the debilitating insecurities, I know what I can and can’t do. What I need to work on. What I need to improve.

I rolled on that mini ramp so much, back and forth, back and forth, relentlessly, that my doubts vanished. I found my truth once I hit practice again. I knew what I wanted to do. I chose the path that would bring me the most joy, and challenging fulfillment.

It is necessary as an athlete to question in order to grow. Questioning too much can be hazardous though.

Paint your picture one brush stroke at a time. Skate and understand how your body and mind work together. Target your weaknesses one at a time. Cherish small victories. Don’t give up in times of doubt.

Most importantly, be your own cheerleader.

No matter how many times you hit the ground, you CAN do it. No matter how many times you fail, you WILL succeed. Know yourself to defeat yourself. Learn and grow, to become the star you want to be.


Follow me on Instagram @kikindateef


Read this great post by Lexi Lightspeed on Goals. And all the other posts she wrote. She’s quite an inspiration.