When people share their stories about derby, sometimes they're inspiring. Sometimes they're helpful, and sometimes they're brutally honest.
Roller Derby made me something I didn't want to be anymore.....
So everyone has this story of how they started roller derby and how they
joined a league. They talk about their journey and the mile markers
they accrue. Heartache sometimes follows, and anger arises from time to
time. Your best friends become your worst enemies and your enemies
become your friends. You talk about how roller derby changed you
sometimes for the better. But does anyone ever mention how it changed
you...for the worse?
Well I'm going to tell you that story; it's not pretty and I'm not proud
of it. It's not an admission of guilt but more as a learning tool.
Hopefully by reading this someone will realize a few things about
themselves. It doesn't make you evil or horrible; it just makes you
I was in my mid-twenties looking for something in life; I had suffered
on and off with bouts of anxiety and depression. Most of my twenties
felt like I was a leaf blowing on the wind, never really having a sense
of direction. I changed jobs several times. I moved in and out several
times with my parents following the loss of jobs and loss of financial
security. I wasn't an addict or alcoholic of any sort, I just lacked
I hit a stable point in my life and started putting myself out there
again. I made new friends as I moved to a new town and got a new job. It
wasn't long before a good friend talked me into going skating,
something I hadn't done since middle school. She was an avid roller
blader and could do some aggressive inlining moves. We traveled to the
next town about twice a week for a year to skate leisurely. Having been
an athlete previously in my life, it was hard to be reminded that I was
out of shape and uncoordinated. Over time I got more comfortable on my
cheap skates and locally the Roller Derby scene blew up. I met and
talked to a few of the girls and got pulled into coming to a few
The team was a baby at the time and we hardly knew what we were doing, not to mention what we were doing was probably dangerous. We didn't have any real knowledge of the sport and tried to do everything through trial and error. No one took us seriously. Finally, after some time,
a more established league took pity on us and sent their coaches
to help us.
Just as I was gaining a foothold in derby, an internal conflict blew
up my world. Some of my teammates I was friendlier with defected to
another team. I was of course expected to follow, and I did. My first
mistake. I burnt some serious bridges there.
Soon people were unfriending me on facebook and sending me nasty emails
and private messages. It hurt, and instead of being the bigger person, I
took the anger from that and I fired back. I made fun of them behind
their backs and giggled at their lack of progress. Essentially I became a
bully. Where I improved, they just kept going in circles and I found it
hysterical. God....I realize how much of a bitch I was then. I would
reap what I sowed later for sure.
Well it didn't take long before my attitude started to grow, and even
though I was still a rookie, I thought I knew it all. I started throwing
little hissy fits if I didn't make roster or if I didn't get played
enough. I even started to get jealous of the advanced players on my team
and other teams. I soon got a rep for a bad sport and cheap hitter. I
even alienated my derby mom; she still doesn't talk to me to this day. During this time I didn't notice this behavior; because I was a
follower. I followed the bigger bullies so I became a lesser bully. I
wasn't quite as vindictive or mean as my "friends" but still it was bad
enough to warrant to be called "ONE OF THEM." People started avoiding
Soon I felt like this team was not good enough for me. Several of the
star players left because they were in the military, or due to life circumstances. For
awhile it felt good that I was now a senior player, but it didn't last
long. My so called friends became the B.O.D and they turned their loaded
guns onto me. I was under the spotlight now and under their scrutiny. Eventually I moved away and ended up closer to one team than
the other so it was hard to make practices for my current team. So for
awhile I traveled back and forth and practiced with both teams and tried
to continue to play for one. Soon the stress started to get to me. I
decided to leave my current team and join the new team. To make it even
more ironic, it was the first team that I ever stepped out on the track
with. Yes that's right, the very team that I first skated with that I had
made fun of I was back with them. They had a lot of new members and no
one hardly remembered what had happened previously. They still hadn't
bouted much and were very inexperienced so they welcomed a "VET" player
with open arms.
Vet....sure....that's what I thought I was. I couldn't
even skate backwards, my hits were still wrong placed too hard, my
cross over were haphazard and wonky and I BARELY made 25 laps because I
didn't push myself hard enough. I also took it personal when I got laid
flat on my ass and started to become a revenge hitter. I was a peach.
So reboot and here I was in my first league again with a larger and much
younger team. I had no competition, only possibilities. Out of sheer
blind faith and dumb luck I was voted captain. The screw ups just kept
coming. I started being verbally abusive to others at practice. I also
started facebook stalking people. Right now as I write this I'm smacking
my forehead, literally. I even ended up in facebook wars. I took every
hit, penalty, and word personally and I took it out on my teammates.
It wasn't long before I blew up when a player complained to me about not
being on the roster. We tried to talk one one one and there was a giant
argument. She was a captain elect for next season so I threw the roster
at her and told her in not so many nice words she had no idea how hard
it was to be a captain and good luck on her own. I bailed on my team
right before a bout. To make it better I went home and deleted every one
of the girls who I thought pissed me off from my contact lists and
unfriended and blocked them on facebook. Can I have the Miss
Congeniality award now?
Six months down the road, I lost some much needed weight and decided I
would try to come back. I felt like I had learned my lesson and saw the
error of my ways. I
tried to reconstruct some semblance of the friendships I had before.
That was the first time I felt the sting of my actions come back onto me
full force. So I
sunk down my shoulders and took my punishment. Slowly but surely I
became a better player. I started to listen to my coach more and
communicate and respect my teammates. I made new and long-lasting
friendships. My hits were clean and I soon became a player to lookout
for because I was good and I worked well with my team, and not because I was
mean and cheap. Other teams wanted to borrow me and I did a lot of
traveling. This to me was the pinnacle of my derby career.
Then tragedy struck in my family, a death. I wasn't the same after that.
Reality hit me like a ton of bricks.
I tried to continue derby, but I
lost my heart for it. I didn't really get involved with petty B.S.
anymore, but listening to it surrounding me, I really didn't see the
point. Depression hit me again and the thing that once made me happy now
only made me miserable. It was so negative all the time because that's
all I could find in it anymore was the negative.
Soon after all of that I started to have some major health issues that
would physically make me unable to play anymore. I tried NSOing but it
wasn't the same. I even tried being a spectator but it also wasn't the
same. So I took myself out of the sport completely, at least for a little
while. My jerseys hang on my wall along with my MVP's and I still
follow blogs and my close friends to see where the sport is going. I
lament a lot looking back and realizing a good portion of my derby career
was spent being an asshole to people. I regret that a lot. I am just
thankful before it was over I was able to do somewhat of a 180. I didn't
sell my gear; it's in storage and believe it or not I still skate 2-3
days a week. I will always enjoy skating. My time for derby has come and
gone I'm afraid though. I will always love the sport, but not so much
the person it made me at times. In the future I hope to love it as a
spectator. For right now though I'm just happy skating once in awhile
and getting updates from my friends.
Take my story as a learning tool as I said in the beginning. Learn that
you are responsible for your actions. Learn that it's okay to be human
but don't be an asshole. No one's perfect by any means but that doesn't
mean you shouldn't try to be. Derby didn't save my soul but it sure
pointed it in the right direction.