Thursday, January 24, 2013

Broken Bones and Broken Hearts

     I apologize for the gap between posts - I picked up a bit of a bug when I was shopping in Buffalo last weekend and spent last week fighting it off and doing really dumb things because I lose about 50 IQ points when I'm sick. Seriously. I went to put the cooking spray "away" by putting it in the sink, so I was pretty sure no one wanted to read whatever the blog version of that would be.
     In my last post, I ended with a thought that sometimes people in your league need some extra looking after. I'd like to spend this post talking about about what is probably the largest segment of those people: injured skaters.
     If you're an administrator, and, like me, you've never faced a serious injury (knock on SO MUCH wood), you may have no idea what it feels like to be someone who can't skate. I highly recommend checking out Derby Hurts. I've known about this site for a while, but had never given it a look until the writing of this post. If you're squeamish, you may want to be rather cautious about what you look at. If you are easily heartbroken... you may just want to talk my word for it that looking at this site will absolutely tear your derby heart in half. Many of the posts in the forums include the words "depressed" or "angry." I'm embarrassed to admit this because I like to think of myself as fairly tuned into the emotions of my fellow skaters, but that surprised me. It shouldn't have, but it did.
     Okay, confession time. Last year, two of my teammates dealt with broken bones received during games. I really wanted to keep them involved, I knew it was important and I completely and utterly failed. Even though I feel really terrible about not doing as much as I could, I think it's important to look at this as a learning opportunity.
As with my last post, I'm going to include some tips, but I think that it's only fair that I say that because of the failings I detailed above, that these are more goals for me.

Make it a group effort. 

What I did to try and help my teammates wasn't enough because it can't just be one person trying to help. It has to be a concentrated effort by a group of people and it absolutely has to be spearheaded by the administration. If your league has a social committee, get those gals on it! Otherwise, figure out what people in your league can help, and what they can do.

Throw some money at the problem.
When I say "the problem," I am not referring to injured skaters. Injured skaters are not the problem; allowing injured skaters to face their situation alone and become disengaged from your league is the problem. Even if your league isn't rolling in dough, it's likely that everyone in your league can spare a few dollars for a nice gesture for someone who is going through a tough time. It's amazing what a pot of money and the internet can do! You can have groceries sent to someone's house, you can send flowers, you can buy her Netflix. Pay for a cab ride so your injured skater can come to a fun team event or practice. Being generous doesn't have to cost a lot.

Keep her engaged.
Not ever knowing what it feels like to be injured and having to sit on the sidelines, I can't imagine how it feels to be asked to come to derby practice while on crutches and have nothing to do but watch. Derby skaters like to learn by doing, so it's going to be tricky to find a way to keep dedicated skaters interested in something that doesn't involve having wheels on her feet. Personally, nothing makes me happier than bossing people around. Let your injured skaters take an active role in running practices, or teaching something to the league. 

     There are some skaters who may take up reffing after an injury for something more low impact. It's a great alternative, and goodness knows we all need more refs. But don't assume that because someone is hurt that suddenly your league has gained a ref or NSO. Skaters gotta skate! Be respectful of your skater's choices and make sure to communicate with her about her healing process and her plans about returning to skating.

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