Craze Gives Back

Everyone knows the expression “pay it forward”. It describes a situation wherein someone receives a good deed and reciprocates this good deed to another person. As a barista, I sometimes saw a long chain of people in the drive-thru paying for the cars behind them. Kindness is very contagious and I learned just how contagious it can be in the derby community. When I transferred to the Chicago Outfit I was taken aback by its very nurturing environment. Firstly, the league calls itself The Family and rightly so. The website’s skater section does not separate the league into teams. Instead, we are all jumbled together without any distinction between experience, skill, and leadership roles. Each teammate’s headshot and profile embrace our individual personalities, like each one of us is a puzzle piece fit together in our own personal way. To make the complete picture of the Family, you need everyone.

However, this familial mentality extends to the way we all view each other as teammates and players. I love how much the Outfit trains indiscriminately. Everyone is given the same attention with various goals and challenges catering to what the skater needs to develop. I found myself working alongside experienced players instead of against them. The competition was not for the better of your team placement but for the better of you as a fellow teammate. We always embrace every new challenge and always cheer each other on. I never feel scared to fall because someone js always there to help me back up. I have gained so much confidence in the past few months and I've felt something else stirring inside of me because of it.

I adore this nurturing environment. It has been infectious. I want others to never starve to hear “good job” but still gently challenge them to plow deeper or push the comfort zone of their footwork. After receiving so much support and affection, it felt almost compulsory to give it to someone else. I willingly started volunteering my time to give personal feedback to any skater who wanted help or advice. My proudest accomplishment of late was not figuring out how to do a one-footed, 180 degree jump but running a practice for the first time for the badass ladies at Gulf Coast Roller Girls in Lake Charles, Louisiana. My heart grew three times its size when, at the end of practice, we all shared one new thing we learned. I was so happy to see them take pride in their accomplishments and be more confident in themselves.

If the Outfit has taught me anything in my short time here: to learn a skill myself is not nearly as a gratifying as teaching another skater to do it. The best feeling in the world is watching a skater finally do something they never imagined possible.