I never imagined myself becoming so passionate about a sport. I’ve always enjoyed playing sports and being competitive. But, I never was actually part of a team before until I decided to try out roller derby. I remembered watching roller derby on television when I was a kid. I was really fascinated by it. Tough girls taking hits and giving them back, falling down and getting back up. My favorite motto as a child was, “Girls can do anything boys can do, only better.”
About two years ago, I noticed a friend of mine from high school was playing roller derby. I thought to myself, “that’s really awesome.” After a few months, I decided to shoot her an email and tell her that I was impressed with her playing this tough sport and thought it was really cool of her. She sent me a message back and said I should check into the local team, that I would really love it. I was reluctant to do that. I was afraid of being unaccepted and feeling out of place. But, I kept thinking it would be really cool to check it out and see what it was all about. My friend played for a team that was an hour away and she invited me to come watch a scrimmage, so I could get an idea of what was involved with the sport. My family went and watched the scrimmage and it made me want to try it out even more. I spoke with my friend afterwards and she asked me what I thought. I told her it was amazing, full of action, and looked exciting. She told me that the local team was having a recruitment night the end of the month and invited me to go check it out.
After talking with my husband and a close friend of mine about it, they both encouraged me to go for it. What did I have to lose? So, I went on recruitment night and felt welcomed by the team members. The idea of actually participating in the sport fueled my passion.
The exercise and drills we did in practice was intense. It felt strangely satisfying to put on tights, fishnets, or knee high socks and sweat more than you ever thought you could, to learn to maneuver on skates quickly, hit a girl as hard as you could, skate faster, endure through tons of pain. The encouragement from the other girls was enough to help you stay focused and determined. I fell in love with roller derby. There was so much to learn about it and there was more than I imagined that went into doing it.
After being in it for two months, we were preparing ourselves for our first bout. In just that little bit of time, I was excited about actually getting to play. A week before my first bout, I ended up breaking my elbow in practice. I thought I had just sprained it, but ended up going to the doctor and found out I broke it. It was disappointing that I was unable to play, but I still went to the bout and cheered on my new team.
I took a month off from derby to heal up. I wasn’t sure if I should return to the team. I didn’t feel I had enough to offer them. But, a teammate contacted me and was seeing how I was doing. She encouraged me to come back, so I did.
After coming back and getting more involved, I found many reasons to love and appreciate this sport. I developed great friendships with people I would have never met otherwise. I saw how accepting the sport is to all types of people, no matter their background, age, belief, or fitness level. It is an encouraging sport; it makes you more confident about yourself. It makes you appreciative of others. It makes you understand the importance of encouraging others and seeing the value of everyone involved. It makes you become a more determined person. It makes you realize that in order to reach the goal you have to be willing to go through some pain. It is a bonding sport, you develop close ties with your teammates, maybe it’s because they see you at your worst and at your best, yet still encourage you to push through. I’m sure there are many other lessons I have learned by participating in roller derby, too many to list.
As much as I love the sport, there comes a time when you have to hang up the fishnets. This is where I am at. I have many things going on in my life right now and I have other opportunities arising. Will I ever put on the fishnets and skates and hit the track again? Who knows, for right now though, I feel led to use my nets to catch another passion of mine. It’s very tough to lay down something you’ve grown to love, but it will always make me smile when I think about it.