Sunday, September 18, 2011

Chapter 7: SOP Shenanigans

"Patience is a virtue until its silence burns you." ~Tunde Adebimpe

At this point, everything was left waiting on this coach SOP. The coach vote wasn't going to happen until the SOP was finalized and I wasn't really all that gung ho about returning given all that had happened and where things were clearly being steered. But I had confidants telling me to wait before making a "rash" decision. How being continuously disrespected by that team and treated like shit by friends could lead to a "rash" decision is not something I can logically understand. At the end of the day though, I am a fool for the concept of team and always have been. I relented from walking away and did wait for this SOP to be created and sent to myself and the assistant to review and give feedback upon.

Though I made a decision to wait, I felt completely betrayed by this team in my heart of hearts. Depending on the skater, I had worked with most of that team for 2 to 3 seasons and didn't really understand why things were being done this way. We were a top 5 league in the sport, had taken home 3rd place nationally in 2009, and were true innovators of a style of play that would completely change flat track derby going forward. Though we should have done a lot better at 2010 regionals, a couple of narrow, last jam losses versus all that had been accomplished prior lent no logic to this course of events. But I often deal in cold, hard logic (though not exclusively haha) and that left me blind to what this group of people had become. It made it easier to be blind because the few people close to me were telling me the piss coming down was just rain. That made it seem possible that my instincts, screaming betrayal at the top of their lungs, were inaccurate this time around. I wanted to give these people the benefit of the doubt because of the ties we had built in the past years. Giving people the benefit of the doubt is also a massive change in my personal philosophy on life and people because my life experiences have shown that benefit of the doubt just bites you in the ass later. I wanted to believe that the bulk of the team could see through the slimy tactics being used against me. I wanted to believe that the bulk of the team could see and at least quietly appreciate the things I had done for them.

Just so it's said once aloud, 2010 was far and away my best personal year as a coach. I had greater self-control, a better understanding of how to help jammers, and a greater sense of purpose to the whole league instead of just the travel team (though no one could say I neglected MHC at all). Of course, the access I received to help the rest of the league was only because of our success nationally in 2009. Before having success, I wasn't really allowed any sort of access to newer skaters or home team skaters. But knowing that the perception of the travel team within the league was that we were mean and clique-ish made me push to have a chance to work with skaters not on my team. Of course, I was never smart enough to run a regular league practice (haha); so, I had to do different things to help the newer skaters and the lesser trained of our league. Like an individual hitting practice where I would just take hits from skaters and try to help them with technique and such because one of our most arrogant MHC skaters had been consistently teaching our brand new skaters the wrong way to hit. And while all this bullshit was going down with my team, I was running some offseason practices where I would only work with non-travel team skaters (no A or B team allowed). While there was a big witch hunt directed my way first thing in 2010, that was also only related to things that I had done in 2009. I had also chosen to distance myself from the former captains intentionally because I didn't think it was right that the highest group of leadership in the league was perceived to be unapproachable and a clique on its own. That is not a reputation I wanted; so, I set about changing that reputation rather than taking the route of the former captains, which was the route of bitching about it but still doing the same things that lent credibility to the claims in the first place. So, I find it sickly ironic that the year I was on my best behavior and was across the board more approachable and helpful than any year prior was also the year where I would be under constant attack.

Back to the story at hand. The SOP took for-fucking-ever to even get the first draft done. The longer I was blown off regarding this SOP, the more agitated I was becoming. I still was receiving very little communication from the current captains, which only served to agitate me more. Then finally the SOP comes our way to look at. I found it hard to believe it would take so long to compile such a vindictive document. This document was a symbol of coaching castration. There were a couple of areas that were just thinly veiled personal attacks on me. In my mind, it said that captains ran everything and they chose what a coach was allowed to do. It set up a witch hunt mechanism where any skater could complain about the coach (didn't have to be all that legit a complaint either) and get the coach ran out the door if that's what they wanted to do. And yet, there was nothing added for dealing with captains who aren't doing their job, which is funny considering that I've dealt with that sort of captain in two of my three seasons. I wasn't surprised to see the SOP read as it did because all signs pointed to coaches being blamed for the team's shortcomings in 2010. Having said that, this SOP was still deeply offensive to myself and some of the language in this SOP had no business being in an SOP. I had consistently had to fight, and hard, to try to gain respect for the coaches in my time with the Denver Roller Dolls. I would be misleading people if I said this was a problem caused by the whole league. No, this was often a problem created by a few of the "privileged" ones. This document basically undid all of my struggle to gain respect for coaches as it removed any sense of worth or contribution a coach may have had and made them a puppet to the captains, which is what the team must've wanted. I had long felt like my league and the sport treats its coaches like second-class citizens and this document only served to put that in writing. Walk around on eggshells and hope you don't offend anyone, coaches, because the ruling class of DRD will witch hunt you right out the door if you even come close.

The league wasn't going to say anything about this piece-of-shit document either. Ever. Through brutal politics and nasty defensiveness, MHC captains had made themselves the privileged group within the Denver Roller Dolls and there was no one that would stand up and fight that kind of fight against them. Especially when they had chosen the controversial one, myself, to systematically execute shady politics against, there was no way they would be held accountable for it. It was always much easier for the non-MHC skaters to just go with the MHC flow and bitch about things behind the scenes than to stand up and be accounted for.

I'm again told not to make a "rash" decision because we can provide feedback on this SOP. Fool that I am, I did wait and provided feedback to the SOP. After again waiting forever for the team to vote on the proposed changes, they return the same basic document. The changes were minor and the message was still clear to me what they were trying to say without having the stones to actually come out and say it.

After thinking about this finalized document, I decided that I wasn't going to submit my name to be coach again. It was just too douche-y to be a part of and it was clearly being advertised that the team blamed me for our choke against BAD as it was. I texted the current captains about my decision first thing and then let a handful of other skaters know that I wasn't going to submit my name either. Somehow, no one understood why I was so outraged at this document. Somehow, no one else saw this document to be what it was. The current captains wanted to talk to me about my decision, but because they took so long getting things done, it was already Christmas weekend and the name submission deadline was coming up. I wish I could give them more credit for their effort to discuss things with me at this point, but the sad fact is that their way of doing things and the disrespectful way I had been treated the past couple of months had helped get me to this breaking point. They didn't have anything to do with the secret meetings; that much is true. But they were also the ones unwilling to use their leadership to do what was morally right. It's always a sad story if I am the one that can see the morally right decision and others can't.

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