A little history about me before this post gets rolling: <sarcasm>It may surprise you to learn that I was a bit of a wild child in college. </sarcasm> Then, around my junior year, I decided that it was “just a phase” and I needed to settle down and be a good girl. Well I did. I got married, finished up college and took a job at a startup.
Ok, onward with the real story.
I saw my first derby bout in February of 2007 at the Coliseum and I fell in love instantly. It seemed like a perfect fit for my personality and my sort of, um, extraordinarily competitive nature. There was open enrollment (yes, it was that long ago) announced at that first bout and I decided then and there that I would be joining.
There was just one problem: I hadn’t roller-skated since I was 11 and even then, I had never really made it off the wall. And, well, I am many things and have a wide variety of talents, but none of them include having any sort of athletic abilities in the slightest. Needless to say, I was a mess at the open enrollment. I fell all over the place, skated slower than a snail and had arms flailing the entire time.
It was embarrassing as hell, but I just stuck with it. I went to two, sometimes three practices a week and hit the gym on days I wasn’t skating (it helped a lot that I was trying to avoid seeing or being in the same room with my then husband). I got stronger. I got faster. I got better.
Suddenly, each week was a new victory, bruise or set of sore muscles. Another thing was happening while I was becoming a better skater: I was making friends. I was bonding with women of all ages, backgrounds and personalities and it was amazing. Until that point in my life, I had never quite mastered the art of being friends with women and I thought maybe there was just something wrong with me.
But these ladies quickly became more than just people I practiced with. I began to spend all my free time with them. And suddenly, I had an amazing support network I saw on the regular that loved me for who I was. I never had to feel self-conscious or like I had to say just the right things. And just like that, the wild child started coming back out.
About September or October of ‘07, I realized that the whole “settling down” thing was actually the phase. I’m a thrill seeker at heart. I want adventure. I want constant change. I want to take a skate wheel to my downstairs lady parts and have the strength to get up immediately and skate that shit off. If I hadn’t started playing roller derby, I don’t know that I ever would have figured that out on my own.
Now, there were other factors involved, but, in December of that year, I left my husband. Much of it was due to the fact that I was not the same person he married 5 years before. I was a more confident, more outgoing, stronger woman, and I wasn’t going to put up with his bullshit anymore.
Since starting to skate 3 ½ years ago, I have gained more wonderful friends than I could have ever imagined (and still gain new friends even though I’m not skating anymore), I have pushed myself harder than I ever thought I could both physically and mentally, I set my mind to something and actually achieved the goal I set for myself.
Best of all, I found that wild child again. She may be a slightly more adult version, with, you know, a career and stuff, but she’s still going to rock your knee socks off. Even if it’s over sushi at 7 pm on a Wednesday and not 4:40 am on a Friday over Waffle House hash browns.
So, I know roller derby has saved more than just my life. I want to hear your stories of derby salvation derby lads and lasses. Tell me here, on Facebook, hell, you can even tell me over a beer. I just love to hear the stories!