By day, I’m Candace Timmons, OU’s social media marketing manager, formulating strategy, creating content and distributing it to our three major audiences via our official social media accounts. But by night, I’m InstaSLAM, #84, for the Oklahoma Victory Dolls Roller Derby (OKVD) league. Before I continue, if you aren’t familiar with the modern game of Women’s Flat Track Derby, watch this:
For the last two years, my life has consisted of positional blocking, star and stripe panties, whips, derby kisses, pace lines, trips to the penalty box and footwork and endurance skating. As much as I love this sport and my teammates, it’s hard on my aging body and I’m spread too thin. I decided to retire. Aug. 8 was my last bout and as I hang up my skates and make the transition to retired skater, I’ve been examining how roller derby impacted my life and have drawn some comparisons between my beloved full-contact sport and the job I’m oh-so-passionate about:
“If you can learn to skate you can basically do anything.”
When I joined OKVD in 2013, I had no skating experience. While I lacked the skating ability, I had gumption in spades and wanted to learn something new, make some new friends, reintroduce competition into my life and get a good workout without having to go to the gym. Check, check, check, check. To date, roller derby is the hardest, funnest thing I’ve ever done. In learning this sport I’d never played, using skills I never knew came a great sense of empowerment I’d never experienced.
Now at work when there’s something new I want to try on social media, I don’t really consider that it might fail. Roller derby has made me more willing and fearless in trying new things because nothing will ever seem as insurmountable as the first time I laced up my skates and then proceeded to spend more time on the ground than on my feet.
Putting quality time and effort into something – whether skating or social media – is always worth it if it’s something you enjoy.
Roller derby doesn’t recommend teamwork – it demands it. This sport has given me a new respect for teamwork. In having to rely on my teammates, I’ve applied that to my work life in relying upon and better appreciating my co-workers. In both environments, you learn about strengths and weaknesses – yours and theirs. You compensate for them and they for you and learn to complement each other and work together.
You learn to have each other’s backs and it’s the best.
Because I don’t have eyes in the back of my head and the first several months I played, I wasn’t very good at transitions (turning from front to back to front), communication became important like never before. Where is the opposing jammer? Is she on the inside? Is she behind you? Where is your jammer? Are you in her way? Do you need to drop an anchor? If so, who? You don’t want to drop two in the same spot. These are the kinds of things that are important to communicate while skating in a jam. But as I’ve gotten better at communicating in roller derby, I’ve also gotten better at conveying messaging on social media more clearly and concisely and it’s easier for me to communicate with coworkers.
Communication isn’t something that is difficult but it is something I have to work extra hard at.
You develop a thicker skin.
Sometimes in the heat of a jam all this “communicating” can get rather boisterous. Sometimes on social media, people blow right past boisterous and are downright nasty. In both situations, it’s OK. It’s not actually OK for people to be nasty, but it’s not a personal attack. And frankly, it’s more of a reflection on them than me or the brand I represent. When it does happen, when someone blows up on social media and is angry about something, I get to be the first line of help in rectifying the situation. That is, unless what they are mad about is football. I don’t know football. I know derby. 😉
Lesson: Don’t take things personally when they aren’t – and they usually aren’t.
When you get knocked down, you get back up – with urgency.
Social media and roller derby both move at a lightning-fast pace – you have to keep up and react quickly when things go wrong. There is no time for wallowing, literally or figuratively.
Things don’t always go as planned – and that’s just how it is sometimes.