You look up, past the opposing blockers’ helmets and see your teammates imploring you to join them. Pushing and wiggling as much as you can, you desperately try to free yourself from the opposing blockers. You are trapped. You are the goat.
Often when one team needs the pack pace to slow down, they will trap an opposing blocker to maintain their desired speed. This is a widely used strategy called “getting a goat.” As the pack (and pack pace) is determined by the largest group of mixed blockers, skaters utilize a goat to control pack speed in many scenarios. When choosing a goat, skaters will often seek out the newer, slower, or weaker players to capture. As a skater, no one ever wants to be the goat.
Everyone gets goated every now and then. I’ve seen it happen to the best of skaters. There are people that seem to perpetually be goated. Being a perma-goat is the worst. Not only do you feel like an inept player, you feel like you’re letting your team down. You are the chink in the armor. For a good chunk of my start in derby I was the permagoat. I was the go-to skater for the opposing team to trap without fail. It felt terrible. I’m not exactly sure when it happened but one day things changed. I stopped getting down on myself about being the goat and decided I wanted out for good. These skaters pushed, pinned, and knocked me around and I wasn’t too fond of that. I wasn’t just going to do my best to stay on my feet or free myself. I was going to make them think twice about trying to get me. I decided I would be the most obnoxious goat ever. Even if I wasn’t strong enough to break through three or four blockers on my own, I could definitely make them sore. So I pushed and I blocked. I got my fair share of bruises and rink rash in the process. Slowly but surely I was getting harder to keep as a goat. One day I realized that I was no longer a permagoat.
Now I’ve been goated since and will be goated again, but I’m not the same skater that I once was. I can look around at a wall and notice that I am the weakest or smallest player and recognize that the opposing blockers will try to pick me off first. Then I welcome it. I welcome it because I’m going to give them hell and make them wish they picked someone else.
Permagoat is a term that can be applied to any player that feels too weak, too small, or too slow. Whether it was one too many trips to the penalty box or one too many hits from Queen Loseyateefa, sometimes you leave feeling deflated. Admittedly, I leave practices sometimes feeling like one.
There are some tips for escaping a goat situation. I also apply these to both my general derby experience and life outside of derby:
1) Do not show fear. If you’re pinned between Queen Loseyateefa, Wild Cherri, and the Merchant of Menace, chances are you’re terrified. The only thing worse than being scared is showing them that. I’m fairly certain Queen takes her cereal with orphan tears in the morning.
2) One must never wait for help as a goat. Your blockers may not come to help you. It is not their job to worry about you.
3) Make them work. No matter how bleak the scenario appears there is always something a goat can do. If you can’t escape then distract them. Make them focus their energy on you so that your freed blockers can stop their jammer unperturbed.
4) Make them regret choosing you. Show them you are not goat material. Change how they perceive you.
5) Don’t give up.
Remember that we all have been the goat. If they catch you, just smile… and give ‘em hell.