As a child, I remember seeing badass women fighting and skating in something called “roller derby” on TV. Wide eyed and determined at barely ten years old, I said that someday I would do that. I was pretty active as a kid; ballet, tap, and jazz since I was five, softball and Poms in high school. I even roller skated every Wednesday evening when I was about 14. I was never the greatest athlete. My softball coach even told me that. But I tried harder than anyone and that is why she wanted me on the team.
When I was 32, I was in a relationship where I was not happy and I needed an outlet, so I finally made up my mind to just do it and I googled “local roller derby.” It turned out that the place I used to skate as a kid had a league – the Beloit Bombshells. Despite my crippling depression and anxiety surrounding new places and people, I drove there on one of their practice nights to check it out. The girls were so nice and let me watch for a while to see what it was all about. I think somehow I already knew before I got there that I was going to join. I was with the Beloit Bombshells for a year. They are some of the sweetest, funniest bunch of misfits I’ve ever met. They welcomed me, made me a part of their derby family, and will always be my first “home.”
I decided to move in with my boyfriend who lived a couple hours away, and the first thing I asked him was “Is there a derby league nearby? I’m not coming if there isn’t.” I found out that the Aurora 88s were somewhat close, and I was with them for a season and a half. It wasn’t the right fit for me, so I moved on to practicing with the Chicago Bruise Brothers for about seven months. I made some great friends and learned a lot more. After having any one of those guys jamming against me, it definitely made me less scared of tough jammers (Thanks, Smokin’!).
Derby is a family. No matter where you live, how old you are, or what body type you have, you can play or be involved somehow and feel safe to just be YOU. I have always felt like an outsider and playing derby has helped me feel like I belong to something. Like many other females unfortunately, I hated my body and wanted it covered up. Now I’m the one wearing the tights, tank tops, and booty shorts to practice! These ladies have shown me that we should be proud of our bodies and that being a strong independent woman is a GOOD thing.
If I go for even just a week without playing, I get antsy. It’s not just the hitting people, although that is definitely a perk. But when I’m playing, my mind is focused on ONLY derby. It is one of the only times I don’t have a million thoughts running around inside my head and I’m not overwhelmed with everyday things. My mind is quieter, I sleep a little better, and I bet I’m a little easier to be around, even though I swear I’m ALWAYS a peach.
I decided to transfer to the Chicago Outfit about six months ago because this league is full of such strong, incredible athletes. In almost four years of playing roller derby I still have a lot to learn, and I am really excited to grow as a skater and person with them.
Photo Credit: B. S. Photography