Do the Damn Thing: How The Chicago Outfit Went 9 to 5, No Big Deal!
written by The Joan Ranger You walk into the venue with your team, holding all of the confidence in the world. You gear up in the locker room, paint on your moustache, listen to Lola’s Outfit Regionals 2011 iPod mix, talk strategy, skate out to the track and warm up. You proceed to have a flawless bout. Every single hit, stall, juke is done to perfection. Your teammates are exactly where they should be. Nobody is in the penalty box, and teamwork is the best it has ever been. The Outfit is triumphant, winning each bout. Then you drift to sleep. You do this every night. Visualization. It’s like Field of Dreams; “If you build it, they will come.” So, the idea was “if you visualize it, it will happen.” And it worked!
The Chicago Outfit Syndicate skated into the 2011 North Central Regional Tournament ranked at number 9. It was The Outfit’s first chance to really prove itself to the derby world. And we did. To prepare, we spent hours together at extra practices; additionally, we spent time studying film of the best leagues around the country, coming up with new strategies, perfecting our old strategies… the list goes on. We really worked on trust. Trust in your teammates, and in yourself, to get the job done. Bottom line: teamwork. That was the mentality that came to fruition during the time leading up to regionals. When we play together, we win. That’s the plan. Couple all of this preparation with individual visualization, and we were set.
After a successful home season, we were ready for Regionals.
Because our game was the first of the tournament, we were the first team to warm up. For some reason, when we did our warm-up paceline, we all started singing, beginning a new tradition: the singing paceline! This lightened up the mood and got us pumped! We also made sure to “raise the roof” a ton! Add an amazing fan section (our extended Outfit family), and we were in business.
Game One: 9am Friday, October 7th: The Chicago Outfit vs. the Arch Rival Rollergirls of St. Louis, MO, our mentor league who helped us achieve WFTDA status last season. We played them twice before, with a 1-1 record. This game would determine if we played the other league in Chicago, something we have always wanted to do but never had the opportunity. We wanted it. Badly. We went into that game with all of the desire we could have possibly had. Our desire was obvious. Unfortunately, sometimes wanting something so badly can cause trouble. For us, it was penalties, our Achilles heel. We played a great game, had amazing plays, maintained teamwork when we could. Sadly, we were not always on the track with a full lineup. We fought and kept our heads in the battle, but we ended up three points short. St. Louis: 119. Chicago Outfit: 116.
As sad as we were to lose, we knew we had it in us. We regrouped, analyzed the positives and negatives of the St. Louis bout, and got our heads right. Team visualization built us back up to where we wanted to be. Also, instead of watching every bout that day, freaking out over roller derby, we made the team decision to watch a few key bouts and take it easy the rest of the day.
Game Two: 9am Saturday, October 8th: The Chicago Outfit vs. The Mad Rollin’ Dolls of Madison, WI. Our teamwork was obviously affected by the St. Louis game. We worked on controlling our urges to go for big, penalty-causing hits and focused on positional blocking and working together. Every skater had her head on straight, and the plays were unbelievable. Not only the blockers worked together, but the jammers also joined in and maintained patience and trust with the blockers. We wanted this game, and we took it. The resulting score was to our liking: a 29-point lead. Chicago Outfit: 158. Madison: 129.
We took that energy and determination to our next bout. Singing, raising the roof and ready to rumble!
Game Three: 3pm Saturday, October 8th: The Chicago Outfit vs. The Brew City Bruisers of Milwaukee, WI. After a disappointing loss to Milwaukee in September, we not only wanted to win, we wanted to murder! We took our thirst for blood and the momentum from the Madison bout and jumped right in. Once again, it was blatantly apparent that our team visualization extended into this game. We stuck to our convictions and played our game. Teamwork, specifically communication, played a key role in this game. Both on the track and on the bench, we made sure we were always talking. If you weren’t in the last jam, you were taking about your next jam. If you weren’t in the next jam, you were encouraging the skaters returning to the bench. It was all about the team for everybody, even the insane fan section, which had grown considerably in size (and signage!) since our first bout. In the end, we were victorious over Milwaukee. Chicago Outfit: 129. Milwaukee: 103.
Could it be? Were we really going to compete for #5? Our original goal was to just get to Regionals, and here we were, headed to the game that would determine 5th and 6th place rankings!
What? REMATCH? St. Louis? Yes, please!! Last time I checked, it was OUR TURN to win!
Game Four: 1:50pm Sunday, October 9th: The Chicago Outfit vs. the Arch Rival Rollergirls of St. Louis, MO. Again. Wait, wasn’t our victory over Milwaukee a rematch of sorts? Indeed, it was. Feeding off of the emotion and energy from the Milwaukee bout, we were ready to dive in! And we did just that. We came out, guns-blazing and kept St. Louis exactly where we wanted them. Our teamwork was completely different from our first game. It existed fully and completely. We maintained manageable penalties and took advantage of our power jams. We refused to give up, and we refused to lose again. Despite the fact that Arch Rival was able to catch up and tie the score at 63-63, we never gave them the lead. We concluded the rematch, and we more than matched their three-point win with a forty-point triumph. Chicago Outfit: 153. St. Louis: 113.
No Big Deal! Well, actually Very Big Deal!
We went 3-1 in our first-ever regional tournament! What’s even sweeter: We beat every team we played at this tournament (since we played St. Louis twice).
Wait, I’m not done! Did I mention our captain, Sweet Mary Pain? She won MVP of the entire tournament! We could not be more proud of her as a skater, captain, coach, friend. When she was awarded MVP, it was as if The Outfit had won the entire tournament. We could care less about anything else, we were so proud.
Looking back on the events of that weekend, I can safely say that we grew as a team. Not only that, we grew as a FAMILY. Every member of the league played a major role in our success: from the painstaking practice to the intense league meetings. Our fans played a role in our success. They were the ones who encouraged us every step of the way. The Chicago Outfit was founded on the idea that we are a FAMILY, and every member of this family was part of our success, whether skating, raising the roof, holding signs, watching the bouts on computers, whatever the case may be. For that, I am not only proud to be part of the team, I am honored to be part of the 9 to 5 Chicago Outfit Family.