Monday, February 25, 2013

The Long Road to "Only Six"

“Only six women in this February’s Kick Off Games, huh?” This phrase or something very like it was said in all innocence to me recently. After my surprise passed it occurred to me that it was a good thing that one of our new throwers saw that as a smaller women’s class. The assumption of “Only Six” is a clear indicator that Texas games have a healthy number of women throwers these days.
The key to that last sentence is contained in the final pair of words “these days”, this was not always the case. Let us use the WABAC machine and go back to 2008. This was the year I began traveling to more games, mostly within Texas. To my surprise I discovered a distinct dearth of female throwers, and several contests that simply didn't have a women's class at all. *blink blink* Checking my calendar for a year stamp I was simply astonished to find that no, I hadn't fallen through a time slip and wound up back in the 50s, these guys really didn't think women wanted to play.  Frustrated to find festivals within driving distance that did not allow me the chance to compete I researched alternative locations that threw on the same weekend to attend the next season. Stubborn can be a virtue where I come from. 
It get's better, y'all.
A little birdie informed me that women's classes had been referred to as "Bad Product" and unreliable. Something along the lines of we would show up once or twice and then just disappear. Meaning the ADs would have a class of 4-5 one year and none the next, so they couldn't plan or budget accordingly. Fair enough, I can see the business side of that. With the idea of proving I was serious in mind I took my show on the road - Texas, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Louisiana in 2009. Took all my own gear, came early, stayed late, judged, shagged weights, pulled tape, shook hands, talked up the crowd, threw as the only woman on the field and kept improving my game. The next year was more of the same 14 games and 5 states, including the Big Show at Pleasanton. No one could say I wasn't serious about my game, and the folks that called me bad product before started asking me for help on recruiting more women. 
For the last two years I have maintained 13-14 games a season, with at least one new state a year. Lots of thank you letters have been written. Numerous training trips to folks that know better than me how to get this done. Continuous outreach to the female strength community locally and on line via blogs, NASGA, Facebook and direct email has yielded numerous new throwers . Taking time to explore other strength sports, venues and festivals to find new converts and new avenues to display our sport has been rewarding as well. One on one coaching with the folks that express even an inkling of interest in the games has also buffed up our ranks. The unending support of my local crew with North Texas Heavies and TCAA has helped tremendously. (also have to make a nod to Mike Baab here)
The road from "bad product" to "only six" has been an uphill rough climb. It was worth every blow to the ego, busted callus and torn kilt, because no other woman is going to run into that same barrier in my home state. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Making a meal full of memories

Thursday nights are my evenings with my godson. This usually involves homework, reading fun books, silly cartoons and my cooking dinner. It may be the only day in a given week that this particular chore falls to me, rather than Glenn.

Tonight's meal was full of random memories of loved ones. I decided to grill up some lean beef burgers  and used some Bourbon Pepper Spice - a gift from Amy (who will forever be MyRollerDerbyAmy in my head) for a past Yuletide. My mind wander through a myriad of events and shades of orange (our signature shared color) as I mixed the spices together and shaped the burgers.

The kid knows that veggies are a must in my house, and today he picked lima beans. Yes, he picked lima beans out of a half dozen choices, this is how I know I have had some influence on the kid. For those that have eaten any holiday meal with me in the past 10 years, this should spark the memory of my polarizing dish of 3-bean-casserole. It is a love it or hate it item, but gets requested every year. I can clearly recall the first panicked phone call to my mother on "how do I make this?" at 3pm one Thanksgiving day. The first time Linnea gushed praise that it was her new favorite dish is a fond memory. Quickly countered by the quirky relocation that my younger brother still can't stand this dish due to his strange aversion to cheese and the year I disowned him for announcing he liked neither cheese nor pie.

Looking through the fridge I discovered a pair of lonesome abandoned yellow squash, and decided they should be a part of today's thrown together hash. How to prep them? Well, I am a limited cook, as I mentioned, and I know only one way to cook them up. Pan seared with a touch of oil and a dash of salt. This method was learned sitting on the edge of a formica counter top peering over the shoulder of one of my oldest friends, Tommy, while he scolded me for not knowing how to cook up "country style veggies".  Now I know both his beautiful daughters, we are pen pals.

A meal full of memories, shared with a boy who is quickly becoming a young man that I hope to make tons of memories and meals with!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Run and hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady

Go and fix your make up, girl, it’s just a break up
Run and hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady
'Cause I raised you better, gotta keep it together
Even when you fall apart

Well, dear readers, it appears that I am having a bit of the nutty of late (hold all sarcastic remarks if ya know what is good for ya). Lack of focus and full of doubts. When in doubt, go right back to your roots. Means lots of cooking and listening to country music to find my center.

Turns out, what makes me happy is getting things done. Better still when there is a physical result of the work to witness after the fact, a clean house, cookies on the counter,  or a real sense of organization.

Yesterday's debate was rail against the wind, or just plow on as an example of how I think it should be done. As it happens the end result is to trudge ever onward with what I believe to be a worthy thing. That means pulling up my big girl panties and doing what needs to be done without complaint.

Leave it to another loud-mouthed short-stack Texas girl to blare a message that resonates the heart of what I needed to hear. Yea, the song is about a break-up, but the idea of pulling yourself together no matter what has put you off your game and act with intergity holds true.

Powder your nose, paint your toes
Line your lips and keep 'em closed
Cross your legs, dot your I’s
And never let 'em see you cry

Go and fix your make up, girl, it’s just a break up
Run and hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady
'Cause I raised you better, gotta keep it together
Even when you fall apart

~ Miranda Lambert

*PS. Maybe it has something to do with the name, but Mirandas always seem to speak the truths I need to hear in a voice I can hear.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Thief of my joy!

I was asked to write a quickie blurb for a composite article over on Strong and Far about how to overcome a common pitfal to success as an athlete. I feel like this applies to so much of my life that I should post it over here as well.
Comparison is the thief of joy, and my cardinal sin as an athlete (and a woman). For years my internal monologue was a series of unflattering contrasts between myself and others on the field. Being so chock full of “advantages” for a thrower – short, heavy, older and untrained – it was a long list! Until, one day a blunt and well-meaning pixie laid it all out for me in the midst of an invitational game (yea, you heard that right, I was at an invite only show and still certain I didn’t have the chops). She pointed at every woman on the field and listed their pedigree of colleges, awards, All-Americans and a couple of Olympic hopefuls like herself and said, “And here you are.”

Talk about a gut check. Just breaking it down to brass tacks for me to get on over my little feels and get back to the business of throwing things. Since then the goal has been to not compare to others, just against myself. Last meets numbers, last year’s bests, personal bests – in the gym, on the track and on the field. Me vs. Me and My Demons.

To that end, I have become a numbers junky. An ever expanding spreadsheet holds the data for every game day throw I have taken since I got into the sport. I keep a running tab on my averages and bests. This is posted on my gym wall, my office wall and in my throws bag. This prevents me from looking across the field at my competitor/companions and playing the “What If” and “If Only” head games, and draws me back to improving the only thing I have control over – me.