Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How Am I Doing?

That turns out to be a hard question to answer in scrimmage.  "Pretty crappy" is accurate, but makes people worry.  "Just fine" seems more than a little cocky, even if it's reassuring.

At Monday's practice, the first for the new Fresh Meat class, one of the veteran skaters gave a nice little welcome talk at the end of practice.  She invited all the new skaters to look around, told them to think of everyone in the room as family, and said that while you don't always get along perfectly, these are the people you stick with, and these are the people you go to when you need help.  These are also the people you call when you get discouraged - and some days I wonder if I need to put the whole league on speed dial.

This was my second scrimmage, and it didn't go much better than the first.  I'm making stupid mistakes, and just don't know what to do in a lot of situations.  What do I do, for example, when I'm supposed to hold the inside line, but I'm up against a blocker who's twice my size?  I tried sneaking around her once, and got to spend a minute in the penalty box for track cutting, a stupid mistake that I shouldn't have made and that hurt my team.

I had one jam of glory tonight when I realized that I could best help my jammer by stopping skating, letting her and the other team's blockers move completely out of the engagement zone, so she could go free.  The truly delightful part was that they followed her forward on lap after lap - so I didn't have to hit anyone; I just had to slow down.  I felt pretty smart, or at least like I'd refrained from being stupid, and it was a delightful way to close the first half.

I also had my first time as jammer tonight, and that was an unmitigated disaster.  Grand slams for the other team, every lap.  I don't even know how many points were scored on me, but I suspect I undid most or all of the good jammer's work from the first half.  There were four good blockers trying to help me - literally trying to pull me through the pack - and I just couldn't do anything with it.  Never made my initial pass.  And that was the end of the second half.  We lost, I think by about 20 points.

It's really hard to avoid getting discouraged.  Even with the new Fresh Meat just starting, I think I still hold the Worst Skater in the League title, by just about any metric.  I know that I can't expect to do everything well, but I'd really like to do something well.  At this point, my internal pep talks are back to "they'll tell you if you're wasting people's time and they want you to quit," and "you'll know you're working too hard if you faint or puke."  Not exactly a rip-roaring battle cry, but at least I'm not using "not in the face! not in the face!" just yet.