Luck of the Derby-ish

As in any sport, Roller Derby comes with some of it’s own peculiar rituals, lucky charms or pre-game habits. From specific bout day breakfast, to morning meditation, here is a glimpse into some of OCCRD’s compulsive bout day behaviors.

Yoga: the key to Duck's calm on the track. Photo by Danforth Johnson

Yoga: the key to Duck’s calm on the track. Photo by Danforth Johnson

“My pre-(home) bout ritual is doing yoga in the morning.  I know it’s nothing special, but it really relaxes me for the day and night to come.  I feel that I’m in a better place, physically and mentally, when I take the time for myself in the morning before a bout.” Duck Hunt #150

A few months after I started reffing I found a zebra-themed devil duck at a book store.  I bought it, and for the last six years or so, he’s been my traveling companion. He typically makes road trips by sitting on the car dash. Zebra Duck has been with me to Rollercon, Atlanta, Denver, Milwaukee and even Alaska. The few times I have forgotten him, I feel totally bummed out. I usually try to set him on the inside of the track or on the scoring table. (He actually made an appearance on the WFTDA scoring table when regionals were in Green Bay!) On very rare occasions, he’s been affixed to a helmet, and had the best seat in the house with a ref-eye view!

Zebra Duck

Zebra Duck

“My lucky charm is a sports bra that I have had since I was in high school. I wore it every time I had a game or meet. When I started derby I knew I had to continue wearing it. On bout days I also always have to put my socks on first before anything. I don’t know why- I just always have.” Thump Her #365

“I always have to have green for bout day stuff, and since I can’t wear my green socks, I have to wear a green lanyard.” King Krum

“I have a certain water bottle that I bring to bouts. After I broke my leg and couldn’t skate, I had to start back on 2 wheels instead of 8…so my bike water bottle seems kinda lucky.” AJ Renegade #2

“I always brush my teeth before a bout (and usually before practice). It somehow centers me and makes me feel ready to go. I always figured it was a nice thing to do for my teeth, teammates, and mouthguard. I tend to think it is not a big deal and I don’t really need to do it before games — then in Omaha I had to have Danforth run out to the car before the game to grab my toothbrush and toothpaste out of my other bag! So, yeah, I guess it’s really a thing.” Lady Hulk #29

Mater's German pancake.

Mater’s German pancake.

“My original plan was to make German dutch baby pancake for every game. I did this for my first bout May 12, 2012. The main ingredient is egg and it must be whipped, which reminds me of Rocky (yeah I kinda sing the song while I am making it).  I have done it for several home bouts but it is a bit fussy for away bouts and in true ‘Mater fashion it is only a tradition when I feel like it. Dess-O-Mater #411

“Let’s get one thing clear: I’m not superstitious, I just wear my pants backwards. I have never been one to be bogged down by the idea or regimented routine required of the highly superstitious. Even the idea of that level of commitment feels stressful to me, but on a fated day in Fargo, ND I accidentally put my bout pants on backwards and what followed was a pivotal moment in my league’s history. Our team bonded on many levels that day. With a long bus ride across three states, a heartfelt and honest team building experience, a warm up that resulted in a pre-bout pack dance, and eventually a hard fought victory over a league we adored, but seriously wanted to beat, we felt a connection that you can only feel in a team sport.

The game-winning backwards pants. Photo by Danforth Johnson

The game-winning backwards pants. Photo by Danforth Johnson

After the bout I realized I had played the entire time with my pants on backwards. The next morning we were met with a hangover bout in Minneapolis, MN. So, with the knowledge that my pants had been on backwards the night before (and, yes, I did have a different, cleaner pair of pants to wear, but chose not to) coupled with a strong desire to win, I hesitantly stepped into my backwards pants, and thought “Why the hell not?” Down two injured players in a closed, sanctioned game with hard hitters out for us, we reigned victorious yet again. From that weekend on, I have worn my pants backwards through wins and loses. Jumping from 94 to 58 in WFTDA rankings in one season was due to hard work, dedication, strategic bout planning, and a league desire to be better, and having my pants on backwards had nothing to do with it (but chancing it seems stupid, so I’ll just keep doing it).” Amandatory Sentence #710

“I’ve had a range of different bout-day rituals that have come and gone over the past six seasons. I used to wear black face paint, or required listening to “Let It Out” by Girl Talk to a certain warm up routine, and lately I like having a Red Bull before the game, and at half if needed. And it isn’t bout day if Dessie doesn’t knock said Red Bull over as well. The past few seasons, I have visualized jamming against the specific team we are playing in the week leading up to the game. That’s not so much a habit as it is the only way I can fall asleep that week.” Left 4 Deadwards #333

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