My Life

A New Approach, Major Blog Changes and Silence on the Derby Frontier

If you’ve been to Derby Frontier before you’ve likely noticed that a lot has changed over the past couple of weeks. With less than a month to go before DF’s Second Anniversary, I’ve decided to completely and utterly re-approach this blog.

As I mentioned in my last post Derby Frontier has been many things to me and to visitors. However, at its core it was always a personal blog. It is a place where I can learn about the history of the sport and how it has affected both others and myself. A place where I can share things I have learned from others during my travels and a place where I can discuss my experiences of the bizarre culture and unique community that has developed right alongside the derbs. Yet at the same time, I got it into my head that I could develop this into a phenomenal resource and news site for the sport in my region.

I created and maintained a Master Bout List for Saskatchewan and some of our neighboring provinces (2012-2014), I was writing player profiles and event previews, running votes, giveaways, and I put together a Western and Central Canadian Roller Derby League List outlining all the leagues in those regions, their websites and social media and how they were affiliated. Meanwhile, I continued to discuss my personal life and interactions with the community. Writing advice pieces, answering questions from peers and discussing how I felt about issues within the sport that were incredibly important to me.

The blog had essentially developed a dual identity that ultimately led to a great deal of frustration and miscommunication between myself and many readers.

Clearly, it cannot be both. So, I finally had to ask myself the big question: what is Derby Frontier? Is it a personal blog featuring guest writers or is it a news and resource site?

After a great deal of reflection and consideration the answer was pretty clear, its the former and always has been. As such, many changes have been made to the overall perspective, mood and focus of the site. Aside from switching up the layout and dropping that black and gray color scheme, below are all of the major changes that have been applied so far:

  • The site heading now states “a personal blog exploring the culture and community of roller derby.”
  • The Blog Staff & Contacts page is now the Blog Support Team. Some titles have been switched and gone is the overall concept of any of us being “staff”. We’re a team, sharing in this fun, passionate, now completely casual blog.
  • The “About” page has drastically changed. Firstly, I have deleted the “mission statement” and “goal” sections, including all accompanying text. The page now includes a small personal bio, a short description of the blog, a list of Awards & Nominations the blog has received and a section highlighting press that the blog has received over the years.
  • Much like the Master Bout List of 2012/2013, the Western and Central Canadian League list is now gone as well.
  • Both the Derby Frontier’s Pink Shirt Day and Derby Frontier’s Trans Awareness in Sports Week pages have undergone a name change. They are now called Stop Bullying in Sports and Trans* Awareness in Sports Week.
  • The Partners and Sponsors page has been renamed to Friends and Donors. Everything about looking for sponsors and partners has been removed, including blog sponsorship/partnership opportunities and the site sponsor call out. I will no longer be seeking these things going forward.
  • Wrote up a very small Contact page highlighting the preferred contact methods should you wish to speak to somebody involved with Derby Frontier

I’m currently working on an articles for fiveonfive magazine and for Derby Life. I’m hoping those go well and that I can continue to write for them. Additionally, I’ve been hard at work on a novel that I’ve been wanting to finish for a long time now and I’m excited to be getting back to it.

As for upcoming content for Derby Frontier, I’d be lying if I said there was a lot on the horizon aside from Destination Derby next month. I think it’s time to step away from a while. Perhaps I will return to writing here with the same vigor and excitement I had earlier this year, perhaps not. Time will tell. For the time being though I think the healthy thing to do is take a deep breath and enjoy what’s left of this Canadian prairie summer with my fiance before I’m on the road in August.

NOTE: As some of you may or may not have noticed, I am no longer on Facebook. I have deactivated my personal profile and I am committed to staying off of it for the remainder of July (bare minimum). If you would like to reach me for any reason please feel free to contact me at kevlar@derbyfrontier.com.

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

Rewriting Your Personal Derby Narrative

So, I’m going to be starting fresh meat with the Pile O’ Bones Derby Club here and for our first homework assignment we were asked to write down 20 negative things we say about ourselves, 40 awesome things about ourselves and 40 things we are grateful for.

Here’s 9 of the negative things I wrote down about myself for the first part of the exercise:

1. I’m a useless referee, always have been and always will be. I let my anxiety and emotions rule me, clouding my judgement and my ability to perform and I do more harm than good in that role. Once angry, upset or embarrassed, I’m a write off. I have no right to be out on that track, screwing events up for everybody else.

2. I’m a coward. I run from my problems and I don’t take any responsibility for my own thoughts and feelings.

3. I’m pathetic and weak. I waste so much of my potential sitting around and bitterly stewing about past hurts, no matter how small they may be. I place a lot of blame on others who I feel have wronged me in some way. Sweltering in anger at every single negative comment as if they were all these unforgivable personal attacks.

4. Why can’t I just grow the hell up, let go, get my crap together and move on?

5. I’m a selfish, downright terrible, friend. I keep pushing people away, isolating myself more and more from truly good people who care about me. I am so wrapped up in my own problems, my own little world, that I selfishly ignore those most important to me.

6. I’m a self-serving dick.

7. I’m so full of crap. I write about all of these large, self-reflective pieces on the dangers of burnout, not letting pride or envy get the better of you, etc. and yet I’m the worst for it all, constantly repeating the same crappy, unhealthy behavior habits and failing abysmally on doing what I need to so that it completely stops. I’m my own worse enemy and I deserve me.

8. I’m always focusing on the negative, living in the past, making myself a victim and not doing a damn thing to fix any of it. I’m a real lowly piece of crap…

9. I’m wasting my time blogging. Nobody cares about what I have to say, the Sask derby community thinks I’m a joke and I don’t blame them.

And this is where I stopped myself, because the reality is… that’s all bullshit! Well, that’s enough of that! I’ve had these thoughts and feelings in regards to roller derby for the better part of a year and it’s time to put my money where my mouth is and continue challenging these unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.

One of the many exercises my counselor showed me last year was how to rewrite my personal narrative. She first handed me a red pen and with a piece of paper in front of me she told me to write down everything that I felt had gone wrong in my life over the past several months, everything that upset me and everything I felt I failed at. Big or small, I jotted down whatever came to mind. She then handed me a blue pen and, on a a new sheet of paper, told me to write down everything that has gone well for me over the years, things that have made me happy and accomplishments I am proud of. Once both were finished we compared the two sides and it was painfully clear that I had MUCH more to be happy about and thankful for than I had to be upset, angry, stressed or depressed about.

It was a powerful exercise that caused me to break down in tears at the time, and yet, even with that tool, that gift, having been handed to me… I had not used it again since then. In the spirit of promoting the importance of self-care in both this sport and life in general, I decided it was time to revisit this particular technique. Here’s how it works:


How to Rewrite Your Inner Narrative

After finishing my fresh meat homework I opened up Powerpoint and began to lay out my negative and positive narrative with a focus on my involvement in roller derby. I made very sure to leave out any narrative that was not affected by my participation in the sport and just like the last time I used this exercise, my results spoke volumes.


Rewriting Your Story 01


If you were to do the same I’m sure you’d realize, much like I did, just how much of a waste it is to let a handful of ultimately insignificant negative experiences overshadow all of the positives that have come to you in roller derby. Worst yet, you’ll see just how much this negative narrative has held you back from reaching your true potential and how you have unknowingly used it to keep yourself from standing for something with TRUE conviction.

I get it. As you just saw, I did it too. People tend to focus on, even obsess over, their stresses, anxieties and negative experiences in life because many of us struggle with control (I know I do!). It sucks when things don’t work out. It’s upsetting when you fail. It doesn’t feel good knowing that somebody doesn’t like you or that people have been talking about you behind your back, but all of that only has power over you if you let it.

I’m not perfect (though I have unrealistically tried to be), I’ve made mistakes (and hated myself for them), I’ve failed at many goals (and have been jealous of those who achieved theirs) and I’ve said or done things that people have disagreed with (and took it to heart more than I should have), but rather than take those lessons, learn from them and move on I was creating this selfish narrative to victimize myself over some truly petty and trivial things.

So, a handful of people didn’t like what I was doing with the Best of Sask Roller Derby Votes and decided to let me know about how much they didn’t like it by making some disparaging remarks in blog comments, then another handful (perhaps the same people) filed a grievance to the SRDA about the blog. Cool, noted. However, I’m happy with all the positive exposure that the polls brought to leagues all across the province, I’ve learned from what did and didn’t work and I’ll organize it even better next year. Letting go and moving on!

An old derby friend publicly voiced some assumptions, accusations and insinuations about me that I felt were very derogatory… wait, didn’t I just have a private conversation with this individual not too long ago to express my feelings of discomfort with the friendship and to respectfully part ways? Yep, sure did! So, why am I even acknowledging their remarks? What will holding onto anger and bitterness over their statements do? Nothing! Letting go and moving on!

I now intend to do this exercise at least every two to three months going forward, depending on whether or not I feel I need to do it again sooner. I will use it to hold myself accountable for my own thoughts, reactions and feelings and I will not allow myself to fester in bitterness, self-pity and anger any more! Whether you’re a brand new skater or seasoned member of the derby community, I strongly recommend you try this personal narrative exercise for yourself as well!


Kevlar 2Written by Kevin ‘Kevlar’ Dennison

Taking each day in stride!