How Derby Made Me A Scapegoat And A Troublemaker

Today I had to go to the Principal’s office. My heart was hammering more than I had thought it would, considering that I believe I am in the right in this situation, and that the Principal understands my side.

I’m not going to go into it in great detail, but essentially I am a scapegoat. 

This guy I work with at a Primary School (let’s call him Gareth,) is lazy, rude, selfish, useless at his job in various ways, and habitually unpleasant to work with. He also happens to be the nephew of our boss. 

I dared to mention a small issue I was having several months ago at a staff meeting. I didn’t name names but it was fairly obvious to whom I was referring. Since then my head-in-the-sand boss (who I was actually referring to as well but never mind,) seems to have gotten it into her rather sandy head that I have a personal dislike for and obsessive grudge against Gareth. Every other staff member has the same issues with him, but I was the idiot who actually said something about it, and have since questioned him on his actions repeatedly. 

In the past few weeks several other staff members have cracked and gone to the Principal with their issues regarding the Gareth situation. The Principal, however, has not yet addressed this with my boss or with Gareth. It was Sandy-Headed Boss getting sick of the “constant friction” between Gareth and myself and deciding that it was “worse than dealing with the children” (thanks for taking my concerns seriously, Sandy,)  that made her take that problem to the Principal. So the Principal has taken the opportunity to deal with the existing complaints by calling both Gareth and myself into the office (with Sandy there to sit in,) and discuss the problem without pointing out that it’s not just my problem. This has left Sandy and Gareth still believing that I am the only one with a problem with Gareth’s behaviour, which I am worried will impact negatively on my job. 

OK, so I did go into detail. But I could have gone into far more and turned this blog into How Much I Hate Working With Gareth. Seriously. I wrote four pages of notes before seeing the Principal, just so that I wouldn’t forget anything.

Anyway. I feel like I am a scapegoat here.  But the more I think about it, the less I mind – providing that my goaty martyrdom makes a real positive change in Gareth’s behaviour and the way that the workplace is run. If it doesn’t improve I will march back to the Principal’s office and demand that she Do Something (and not pin it on me.)

I’ve come to the conclusion that derby is the reason I’m in this situation.  A year ago, I would probably not have spoken up at a staff meeting.  I would not have sought out a meeting with the Principal yesterday to get my point across honestly and clearly prior to today’s meeting.  I would not have been able to adequately express myself the other day when Sandy called me into her office to discuss the situation while Gareth wandered in and out of the wide open office door. I would have been meek and would not have wanted to cause trouble.  

Well, derby has me causing trouble everywhere and stirring up the status quo. Destroying the joint, if you will. Simply put, I’m standing up for myself. In case anyone’s wondering (which nobody is really because I don’t think anyone actually reads this blog,) I did end up sending an edited version of that letter to the ref that yelled me down last week. (Haven’t heard back.) I told my second-in-charge boss at the school that she IS in charge and essentially she needs to stop bitching about Gareth with the rest of us and actually tell him the fuck off, because she’s the one who can. Instead of just bitching about it, I told off the two teenage boys playing with their basketballs on our court today at training because we had hired the court and they were distracting some of the skaters.

The decision that I wasn’t going to let people push me around at derby, a new part of my life at the time, has made me so much less likely to allow it to happen elsewhere.  I have learned to be more aware of people belittling me or manipulating me. I am learning how to react and to deal with it when it does happen. In meetings with my production company, if someone tries to speak over me now I will snap my head towards them and sharply remark that I was speaking. This may seem rude but after the years I’ve spent letting it happen with this group of people, it’s necessary to snap them out of it… and to snap myself.  Stop bitching about it, stop getting upset by it, and change it. Break the pattern.

Derby names or personas aren’t necessarily an alter-ego. Not to me, anyway. To me, my ‘derby persona’ is me. A truer, more powerful me. It’s the me that has been struggling to get out this whole time, finally given a chance to try things her way. 


How I’ve Been Treated

Dear Head Ref,

I need to tell you how upset I am by the way you spoke to me tonight at training.  I ask you to please not read this as an argument, but simply as me trying to express my feelings on what happened.

The reason that I have taken this incident so personally is because you hit a nerve with me tonight.  We all have our baggage, and this is some of mine.  For years people have talked over me, not taken me seriously, not listened to my thoughts, ideas and opinions. I think a large part of that was me letting them. I decided many months ago that I was not going to let this happen in my derby world, and thankfully it mostly hasn’t. This has helped me to be more assertive and stand up for myself in other areas of my life, and to identify when people are belittling me or not giving me the respect that I believe I deserve as much as they do.

I refuse to let this start happening at derby. Once it begins, it can be hard to stop it. Usually in the past I have taken the opinion that something’s not worth getting into an argument over, and I shut up and say nothing. I think that this is precisely why it keeps happening, because I’d prefer to avoid a commotion rather than to stand up for myself. I don’t want a difference of opinion or a misunderstanding to escalate into a full argument or yelling match, and that is why I let the subject be moved on tonight at training after you raised your voice at me and talked over me, rather than try to explain myself at the time.  I do however  feel as though I need to say something to avoid this happening in future or becoming a pattern.

When I said that some of the refs need to speak more loudly and clearly, it was not an attack on you or any of the refs personally, individually or as a group. I was simply giving some feedback from my experience in a recent scrimmage.  We’re all at scrimmage to practise and to learn, and that includes refs and NSOs.

The way that you spoke to me after my comment was uncalled for and unacceptable. I feel as though you overreacted and jumped down my throat for no good reason.  I understand that reffing is a really hard, really full-on job, and I am in awe of what the derby refs do – a point that I tried to make but you didn’t or wouldn’t hear because you were speaking over me. I understand that as part of a new league, all of our refs are in training too and therefore can’t be perfect at everything. That is exactly why such feedback is important. As head ref, you need to be able to take such observations or constructive criticism as they are intended (to help the refs be even better at what they do,) and not as a personal attack.
Surging, for example,  is pretty hard for someone who’s learning it; I need to concentrate on keeping my foot in front, keeping the right weight distribution, turning out my knee, getting the timing right, having enough momentum behind my body, making contact with my thigh, butt, hip, back and shoulder, keeping myself from tabletopping as well as avoiding using my elbow – but when you or any coach or skater tells me to keep my elbow in, I usually acknowledge that it’s something that needs improvement, thank you for pointing it out and say that I’m working on it. We’re all trying to be the best skaters, players and refs we can be in order to make ourselves and our league stronger, and part of that is listening to feedback and taking it on.

We both know that sometimes you and I have very different ways of understanding things, but I ask you to please be more mindful of the way that you talk to me because it may have more of an effect than you realise.  I don’t want this to become a pattern. I want to be able to enjoy the freedom of my derby world without constantly questioning myself or being put down like I so often have been everywhere else.

Thankyou for taking the time to read this.





I’m probably not sending this to the ref in question, but I thought I’d get it out of my system a little. How should I stop it from happening again? Any ideas would be appreciated.