As we are well into our Fresh Meat recruitment and have begun holding open houses, my mind has wandered back to my first few months of roller derby.
I remember worrying about making friends, appeasing my coaches, and not looking like a loser. I didn’t come from a sports background, and while I was athletic, I was not the shape and size of the average athlete. For me, this meant that I was always worrying about how I looked in the eyes of others. I would fret about what to wear to practice. Did my socks match my shorts? Was my shirt cute enough to impress others?
Roller derby changed my life.
It began in small ways. I stopped wearing makeup to practice (I was going to sweat it off anyways). When we would go for lunch after Saturday practice, I stopped nervously attempting to bathe in the sink in the washroom, and I abandoned lugging around a change of clothes. I learned that size can be an advantage (so long as you have the strength to back it up), and you don’t notice that you stink if everyone around you smells just as bad.
I used to think I was a relatively handy person. I could tackle most household repairs with a quick google search and my trusty cordless drill. I now carry a derby tool box with me to all practices, know how to take my skates apart from top to bottom, and stare with envy at our coach’s skates, which he Frankensteined himself.
1 year in, and I have a new wardrobe full of derby team shirts and short shorts (another nod to derby…I no longer feel comfortable wearing shorts without tights underneath for fear of rink rash). I brag about bruises. I plan the rest of my life around my derby schedule. I’ve got a whole group of derby friends, and I know that if I need extra hands to build a shed (or kill a leftover keg of beer) that I’ve got a whole team of people to call upon.
I no longer worry that people are judging me based upon my appearance. Our first bout had me fretting that my jersey made me look fat. Our last bout left me wondering if the crowd really did groan sympathetically when I laid a shoulder check so hard that it knocked 2 girls out of bounds at once.
I used to exercise for my waistline. I now think about what I need to do to have faster feet. I watch others skate and try to emulate their footwork. I cheer for a well timed hit. I never leave my jammer behind (which means that occasionally taking an unnecessary trip to the bathroom at a bar just so that she’s not alone).
Living in a hockey town, it’s not uncommon to me to see large, well-built men traveling in packs of 5 into popular downtown bars. I now similarly travel in a pack, but we hip check one another the whole way down the road.
Think you might want to give roller derby a try? Come out to one of our open houses, rent a pair of skates, buy a knockabitchdown shirt, and start thinking about your derby name:
Friday August 19th and Friday August 26th
Already play roller derby? Are you a roller derby fan? Tell me how derby has changed your life.
#25 (and holding)