Regret and Reflections on Derby Frontier

Derby Frontier has been many things to me, and to those reading it, over the last two years. Sometimes readers and I have been on the same page, while at other points we have not. At first, for me, Derby Frontier was a small, personal blog that I wanted to use in exploration of the sport in my immediate area, Saskatchewan, for both my friends and myself. As much as I enjoyed writing about bout results, promoting events, compiling a list of leagues and putting together a provincial bout schedule, some peers from the neighboring provinces hoped that they could be included as well (and why not!?). Ultimately, I decided to branch out as I saw that this offered me a great opportunity to learn more (which it did) and would allow individuals from other provinces in Western and Central Canada to cross promote and share news with one another via interviews (which it also did!).

Many minor shifts in focus followed. In early 2013, I began writing about broader events such as what the Roller Derby Association of Canada (RDAC) was doing as well as coverage of tournaments in the region. By the late summer, early fall, I started to focus on self-care articles and pieces about finding your identity as an athlete/official/coach (which included submissions from guest writers). I then finished off the year and rang in 2014 focused back on Saskatchewan with coverage of the provincial conference and nomination/voting period for the board of directors of the newly formed Saskatchewan Roller Derby Alliance (which I ran for as well). The New Year started with some challenges as I attempted to bring some exposure to the Saskatchewan derby community through an online, public vote. While I feel I was very successful in this (especially through the CBC Saskatchewan Radio on-air interview) I absolutely recognized that the overall process needs to be tightened and better planned out for any similar votes in the future.

Over the past three months, the blog shifted slightly again to a platform of sorts for social politics as I had a desire to discuss some issues that I am quite passionate about such as sex/gender policies in this sport and the common struggles that trans* roller derby athletes face (while also exploring the same issues in other sports and athletics). In re-reading through some of those posts, I do see that I was projecting my own frustrations that, as some have pointed out, resulted in a couple of articles written with a degree of discontent to them. The articles “6 Reasons Why Roller Derby is NOT Ready for the Olympics”, “United Kingdom Roller Derby Association’s Transgender Policy a Mixed Bag” and “3 Reasons Why Quidditch is More Gender Inclusive Than Roller Derby” are prime examples of this. The products of letting my frustration and discontent with internal and external situations get the better of me. Where I should have been writing constructively, I was writing critically without offering solutions to the issues I was addressing.

Two days ago, Derby Frontier was scandalous. While attempting to illustrate how I felt about self and communal censorship in regards to discussion of sensitive topics and issues, I chose to utilize two pieces of “he said, she said” gossip as an example. I chose to air dirty laundry that did not involve me in an inconsiderate and unfair manner. Frankly, it was insensitive toward those who it concerned. There are consequences for decisions such as that, which I now fully deserve to experience. My choice to write openly about that gossip was mean, hurtful and for all of this I am sincerely sorry. While I still feel strongly about the overall message I was attempting to relay in that article there is a very fine line between productive writing and destructive hearsay. I crossed that line and as a result I’ve disappointed others and I’ve disappointed myself.

Almost everything I have gone through in my personal life, and how that has affected my involvement with this sport, as well as my relationships within it, is reflected here on this blog through posts and the comment sections. All of my personal difficulties and struggles. All of my successes, failures, as well as clear evidence of all of my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve detailed my personal internal struggles with my sexuality, my gender identity and I’ve written about the many mistakes and poor decisions I’ve made, of which this is another that will remain here permanently as a reminder to myself of the negative effect that sensationalism has in any form of media. Simply put, a large portion of my life, of my thoughts and personality, is laid out on the internet, made completely vulnerable in every regard and honestly… I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It has been fundamental to my efforts in personal self-care, counseling and my personal commitment to hold myself accountable for my choices and actions. All of these experiences, these posts and the reactions to them (be they positive or negative, strong or indifferent) contribute to that. They have encouraged me to sit and reflect on myself, on my own reactions (and why I reacted in those ways), on my perspectives, my thoughts, my words, my behaviors, my goals and on my morals and values. For the past two days I have continued that dialogue with myself and others and I see that in moving forward I need to develop more constructive ways of presenting content and approaching issues, while also being more attentive to how I am expressing my thoughts, ideas and opinions.

In August, Derby Frontier will become a personal travel blog for approximately 21-days.

To those of you who are getting off here, I understand and I would just like to say thank you for the time you spent reading and commenting on the blog in the past. To those who remain, I look forward to continuing in sharing more of my personal journey, including all the ups and downs still to come, with you!

Finally, to any potential bloggers out there, there is certainly a lot to be learned from the 165 posts published here. There are great moments and there are poor moments, loud moments and quiet moments, proud moments and regretful moments. I hope you can learn from it all as much as I have.

Kevlar 2 Kevin “Kevlar” Dennison

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6 comments

  1. I think what hit home the most about your last post is that we all have our frustrations with roller derby organization (or lack thereof) that come out from time to time. But it’s not derby, we’re frustrated with, it’s people. Even if we are usually mature and professional, we are all going to have moments where we aren’t and even act or write on it. You didn’t say anything particularly new, you just had a low moment. Even I’ve called someone a bitch at practice before, and meant it. At least you’ve realized some of the things you said were off, and tried to rectify. Not everyone does that–not everyone cares that much. I didn’t want to comment on that post after reading the other comments. It wasn’t a safe place.

    I love roller derby. I love sweating and I love my league. Do we have problems? Sure, everyone’s got problems. It’s what people do together that matters. Sometimes that means breaking off and starting a new team or league, or just struggling through until it’s past and everyone’s happy again. We all try to surround ourselves with people who can be our better angels, but we should remember that everyone has a little devil too.

    Either way, I’m glad you got some good perspective out of this (those comments, yikes!) and I’m looking forward to following the Destination Derby stuff. I hear you’ll be stopping in Houston! 😀

    -TchaiKILLsky

    1. Hello Bran!

      It was most certainly a low moment. An impulsive, negative post made irresponsibly that, on top of further harming those affected by the gossip, also created an unsafe space in the comment section below the post for readers. As you said though, the response and overall experience has offered me an invaluable opportunity to look at my perspective and rethink my goals with the blog going forward. So, I feel it is important that I capitalize on that to grow as an individual and writer!

      I’ve spent the better part of the last six days re-reading through everything from day 1, looking at the content, themes, techniques and tones of each piece. It has been an interesting exercise and I plan to do it again come the end of the year!

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment! I will most certainly be through Houston in August and can’t wait to write about all the experiences we have with many different people and communities during Destination Derby!

      – Kevlar

  2. Well done Kevlar. I was very angry when I read your last piece and for the most part I was angry because you didn’t think about how your article would affect those who were involved and we have more than enough negativity in this sport. I will keep this short and simple: most people don’t have the courage to own their mistakes in private or even admit them to themselves. You owned yours for all to see and while I may not always agree with your topic choices or with what you write, you most definitely have my respect for stepping up and being accountable to your actions.

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