By Lux Mayhem
Your wheels skirt the track’s inside line while the pack thunders beside you, a blur of color and noise. You’re wearing a star on your helmet and a ridiculous grin, all-focused on the half-moon of track in front of you. A blocker stomps toward you and with an inch of inside track you LEAP.
You are airborne, the swamp of your t-shirt plastered against you. Adrenaline surges through you. The instant your wheels touch down a light thud travels along your spine and the crowd yelps. You have cleared the inner apex - in bounds, upright, nothing but track. Apex jumping goal—check!
At 2012 RollerCon, I had a birdseye view of V-Diva nailing this Pegasus feat for Team USA. She then turned around to blow kisses at the Philly skaters left in her dust. (Blowing kisses and waving buh bye is her cheeky way of psyching out players.) Even though she’s an all-star player, V-Diva—Philly jammer #1818—was cool enough to pass along some insights.
Since jumping the apex is one of V-Diva’s signature moves, I asked how she turned this from goal to badassery. She said, “It was mostly about coming up with the right drill and looking at the apex jump as the easier way around the track.” Her team put blockers on corners going around the track, and you had to jump inbounds but go around the blocker. She ramped up the drill and kept at it until she had it down. “Plus it helps to have really long legs,” Diva jokes.
Diva knows a thing or twelve about derby goals—she has a staggering amount of MVP awards* and coaches not only her team, but internationally. She sets mainly short term goals with one big goal at a time. Her trick is Post-its—she puts up to 5 goals on each little sticky note, and when she marks a couple off, she starts a new one so she’s always challenged. “If you see you only have one goal left, you won’t be as motivated.” Each time she marks all 5 goals off, she puts the Post-it in a book she’s compiling.
Her first goal, in March 2008, was to make the team roster. By 2011 her goal was to play on a team with the best of the best. This goal resulted in her being invited to play with Team USA in the World Cup—and it got her asking Team USA coach Buster Cheatin’ what to work on. She used his feedback to up her game, and asked all her idol skaters how they do what they do. “I didn’t know if I could do it, but I had to try—I cried when I made Team USA!”
Since making Team USA V-Diva has focused even more on goals. Get Eastern Regional MVP, hit it. Become best scoring jammer for Philly, hit it. Score 100 points in a bout, check. Score MORE than 100 points in a bout, check. While her 2013 goals are to work on basics like endurance, footwork, and blocking, she says Goal #1 is to BELIEVE IN YO’SELF.
So important is self-belief that after every Philly practice, no one leaves until every single player tells the person next to her, “Hey you are amazing, pass it along.” Players are also paired up randomly at practices, and tell each other one good thing they’re doing, and one thing they need to work on. They hug it out and even sing. The team jumped up in the ranks because of coming together like this, and played much more confidently. Diva says, “The most important question is, do you believe in yourself, and do you believe you can give what the team needs?”
In her quest for MVP’s and championships and being on par with the very best, Diva drives 2.5 hours to practice with Philly, passing seven other leagues on the way. She wants to play with girls who are engaged and want to win. “I need my teammates, I don’t want to get my butt whipped out there.” Diva is awarded with Most Points Scored in 2012, for 1200+ points in 15 bouts—not bad for once being the skinny tall girl who didn’t know her body well, flinging her arms all over the track. And a testament to goals.
Setting goals is an integral part of an athlete's growth experience. Your goal could be as simple as staying on your skates—however big or small, goals are the measure of how much you have achieved and learned. Good feedback can help you create goals that are clear and achievable. With the New Year ahead of you like an open track, it’s the perfect time to break out the Post-its. And maybe even create a mantra like V-Diva’s: “I’m the diva; I’m queen of this track!”
*See V-Diva’s Facebook for her bio and (staggering) list of awards!
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