Fighting Back

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Fighting Back  Empty Fighting Back

Post by toughened on Tue May 14, 2013 7:03 am

It's taken me nearly 2 years to get to the point where I'm truly free of my old league.

I never really felt welcome as I wasn't a natural skater- I was frustrated, upset and jealous because I had to work harder than everyone else on my intake. But I worked hard behind the scenes, hiring a hall to myself, bought some better equipment, constantly watching YouTube tutorials on loop, making notes, practising etc, etc.

Then a girl kind of latched onto me, she was lovely, funny and lived quite close so we started carsharing to practice. She was a better skater than me but we had a lot of fun and became good friends very quickly. at some point she confided in me that she had been thinking of opening a derby store online and wanted me to be her business partner. I'd been burnt before in self-employment by a previous partner who smoked and drank away all our money (including an absolute fortune of my own personal savings) so I didn't want to be commiting financially- I was prepared to take the risk that I'd not earn any money, but I wasn't going to put any in. I told her I would help her set up the business in her name and we agreed on a profit-share.

The business built very quickly and was exciting, in the meantime I suffered a broken bone and some severe ligament and tendon damage that is still healing, and was out of action for a while. I missed my minimum skills assessment and was devastated, I was so close.

We were starting to see a lot of discord between main league skaters and management- there was a definite ill-feeling and tension that we picked up on in freshmeat. We were both very suspicious and critical of management.

A few months later we were ready to launch and she was also ready to take another go at her minimum skills (she'd failed the first couple of times) so I cheered her on with everyone else. She just scraped through and was understandably ecstatic. I have to confess my mixed emotions- I cared for her as a friend and knew she'd worked really hard, but I still felt left behind- what was worse was that I gave my laps a go and just couldn't make it, I was crestfallen and sulky, but I made sure I sent her a message to say I was really happy that she was a main league girl and that she deserved it.

From that day on for a month I heard absolutely nothing back- we'd been on the phone several times a week or seeing each other every week, and then absolutely nothing. I put it down to her being stressed and tried to shake off the warnings that my husband was giving me- "she doesn't need you as a crutch anymore, she's in the team now"- saying that's not who she was. Eventually she sent me a reply to my many messages saying that yes she had been stressed and was devastated that she'd hurt my feelings, I was the best friend she'd ever had etc. And yet it happened again straight away. She cut funding for the creative projects I had lined up, after taking the credit for my other ideas- stupidly, one of those was to sponsor our league. From then on they were in her pocket, she wiggled her way right to the top (management!) in a very quick time, and worst of all had literally dropped me for a new "derby wife" months before (hence her not speaking to me from the day she passed) who had also taken an opportunity to send me a series of hurtful, humiliating and insulting messages.

This was enough to destroy me, I was advised by a couple of friends to let the team liason know about it, to prevent any further bullying. I resisted at first, thinking it would make things worse- they couldn't force her to retract things she clearly did mean, and nor did I want to be labelled as weak and powerless, or let her know she'd got to me. However, one league skater who I trusted advised me to go ahead in order to stop it happening anymore- she was pretty furious and on my side, it appeared, so I did it. And do you know what happened? I asked for it to be kept quiet and for them to just keep an eye on the girl, not tell her straight away, and was told that I had broken code of conduct by speaking to others (my friends outside the league) instead of the proper channel, and then she immediately went straight over to the girl to talk to her! I was told she was going to call the next day and clear the air (yeah right) and that was it. This was a girl who was in her probation period and should have been out on her backside, but was actually very talented and pally with the vets, so nothing more was done.

I on the otherhand was humiliated and spent the next few months isolating myself from the main league- a new intake came in and I bonded with a few of them but I never got over things. The friends I had "on the inside" confirmed the levels of backstabbing, manipulation and general toxicity and I made the heartbreaking decision to leave (derby effectively- there isn't another league for at least 40miles). I slipped out without saying anything and after a few weeks I started feeling better. I compare it to an abusive relationship- you think you can't manage without the other side of the partnership, that you're not worthy of them, that maybe it's you, that they can change, all that crap- but once you're out, you see it for what it is- institutionalised bullying through exclusion and dictatorship.

I couldn't escape the feeling though, that I'd let myself down by rolling over and playing dead. I hated for them to win, to see me defeated, but most importantly, I'd let some complete strangers push me out of an actual sport. Derby isn't like basketball, where you can just find a court with some friends and shoot a couple of hoops- if there's no where to skate regularly, and no organisation to bring you together in your area, it's pretty hard.

My outside friend (who runs another league) finally convinced me, after a year while I was at my old league, to start something up myself. She finally won- I've started the first rec league in our area (although I hear that they tried to run one as soon as they heard rumours of mine hahahaha) and I'm making it my business to ensure that none of that belittling, excluding, humiliating, meathead behaviour goes on. I want my skaters to commit what they can and not feel like they're failing or slacking if they won't abandon their children to come and nso at scrimmages (like at the old league), I want them to feel they can be themselves, be open ,learn some cool stuff, and most of all, have fun- wasn't that what this was supposed to be?


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Fighting Back  Empty i am freshmeat

Post by bebe on Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:22 pm

Im glad I read your post. I feel this way too and at this point don't trust anyone and I am afraid to even show my true self to these girls at this point in time. I personally miss the rec league that I was on. We had fun, worked hard and supported eachother. I still get texts from to come and skate and we keep in touch. I think it is bad ass that you created a rec league. I have many regrets but my rec league sisters and the time i spent with them is not and never will be a regret.


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