Sunday, July 19, 2015

An Experience in Derby Retirement by Beth Row


Photo by Joshua Craig


Beth Row has been my teammate for six years, and I have missed her ever day this season since she retired from derby. She was my lifeline to sanity, and I miss her calm feistiness on the track. Even though I have missed her, I know that she's very happy in her derby retirement, so I'm very glad she offered to update me on her six month mark of derby retirement.



Hurticanes vs. Bootleggers 2010
As it nears the halfway point in the season for most roller derby leagues, people begin to think about retirement. With the big push to get into tournament shape, the doubts start to creep in. Can I do this for another year? Is this my time to retire? When is too much of a good thing, just too much? What if I get hurt?

How many times have you said that you were going to retire and then decided you couldn't possibly give up this sport that you love? How many times have you told yourself, next year, next game, next practice; just one more.

This time last year, I began my countdown to retirement.

I'm one of those people that is an all or nothing kind of person. If I'm going to do something, I'm going to give it every thing I have. During the 2014 season, I felt I had nothing left to give derby. I couldn't be one of those people that shows up to practice the minimum number of times and plays in a game. That's not my style, that's not who I am. 

I realized it was time for me to retire, when we took our regular Summer break from derby and I didn't miss it. Not once. I didn't miss anything about it - not the skating, not my teammates (sorry!), not the practice, not the demands on my schedule. I knew right then, it was time to leave. I told my team I'd finish out the derby season and I did. It was time for me to go.
Photo by Badjon

If you’re considering retirement, I thought I'd share a few things that you will encounter on your journey to finish the season:

Teammate after teammate said to me: "Aww, you're not leaving. You'll change your mind." or "You can't leave us."
My response: You're not going to guilt me into coming back. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. That's why I didn't retire last year – in 2013. Please don't make me feel guilty about my decision.
Don’t let people make you feel guilty for this decision. This is your life, not theirs and you have to live with yourself after this decision. If you make it on your terms, you’re more likely to not regret it.

Everyone on the planet: "You know you're going to miss it."
My response: Sure. I'll miss the sport, the competitiveness, the “us vs. them” feel on game day (After the bout has started and the nervousness has gone away because I've had the crap knocked out of me the first few jams, of course.) But I won't miss the drama, the women cutting each other down because they are insecure themselves, the lack of respect, the lack of effort, and the lack of responsibility for actions.
So yes, you might miss it. But derby should be part of your life, not your whole life.

She doesn't like talking about the time she reffed.
Anyone who knew that I went to every practice and every invitational ever: "But what will you DO???"
My response: Um, live? Like everyone else who has never heard of derby? I developed what I call an “after derby bucket list.” I have wanted to start a food blog, and have never been able to because I didn't have any free time. And what little "free time" I did have while playing derby, I wanted to spend sitting on the couch watching some horribly brain-sucking show because I didn't want to do jack POOP! I want to get over my fear of swimming. I want to learn how to ride a bike. I want to go to a gym and take classes like normal people. I want to skate for fun. (For fun? What's that?) I want to grow my own veggies and get a dog. I want to be able to go to the beach when I want to get away and not have to plan around 4 back-to-back derby weekends.

Make a list of things you’ve always wanted to but couldn’t because the rigors of derby life wouldn’t allow. Make a plan to complete those goals and it will keep you from getting the post derby blues.

Newbie X, who has just found this newfangled thing: "Oooo. You should totally switch your plates/pads/helmet/toe stops/wheels."
My response: I have THREE months left. I'm not paying a shit-ton of money to use it less than 3 months! If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Even if it is broke, I'm putting duct tape on that shit, so shh...I don't care about your newfangled thing.

Only spend money if YOU want to. And this goes for more than just the newest gear/bearings/skates. This is a life lesson.

The thing no one who is already retired tells you about: It's hard to stay motivated. I didn't want to learn a new position. I didn't want to try my hand at jamming. And to be honest, learning the new skill isn’t going to help the team. I could do that, but then the team be in the same boat in three months! So why not train up someone who will be around? I wasn’t closed-off to new strategies. If it helped the team win, I was in it to win it. But I certainly wasn’t into switching up my training for personal gain at this point.

And now? After I actually retired?

During those 8 years of derby, I was a fearful girl at tryouts, a timid newbie, a frustrated freshmeat, a skater, an injured skater, a rostered skater, a captain, a jammer, a blocker, a pivot. I was a friend, a teammate, a coach, a BOD member (twice!), someone you didn't want to mess with (more than a few times) and a trainer. I was a Debutante Brawler, a Trauma Queen, a Tai-Chi-tah, a Raleigh Ruckus, a Carolina Hurticane, a Palmetto borrowed skater, a Bootlegger, and finally a CRG All-Star.

I am a little sad and nostalgic for the times I've had, but I know there are more adventures waiting for me. I may not have become a Scald Eagle or a Sexy Slaydie; but I gave it my all and I am proud of where I ended up.

He is super cute.

And no, I won't be back. I won't pull a Brett Farve. But I won't forget what being a Carolina Rollergirl allowed me to become - a strong, less fearful, powerful version of myself, ready to take on more of life's challenges.

As for an update on the bucket list, I still haven’t found time to get my food blog up and running, but I do cook A LOT more! I have taken swim lessons, but it’s a fear-based thing, not an ability thing. So, I’m working on it. I can kinda ride a bike. I do go to a gym and I LOVE their barbell strength classes. I’m currently training for a half marathon, after having done the Krispy Kreme Challenge in February. I do skate for fun, occasionally. I am growing tomatoes and jalapenos; though the peppers are wildly more successful than the tomatoes. And I have a 6 month-old puppy, named Tucker, who is the cutest thing EVER.

See? Don’t believe those horrible depressing articles you see on the internet. ;) There IS life after derby!

3 comments:

  1. I was forced to retire for medical reasons. I wasn't ready to leave, I had derby goals, like Team USA.
    I think about going back ALL the time. Its hard for people to understand that I CAN'T play roller derby, unless I want to end up on dialysis the rest of my life... and to me, derby isn't worth that.
    I wish people would stop asking, "when are you gonna come back to derby?" Because it kills me every time. I'd play again in a heartbeat if someone was willing to give me healthy kidneys 😀

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    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry. I think people ask that because they miss you. That's why I ask it of people....they may forget why you retired. People in derby have such a short attention span. :/

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  2. I've been contemplating making this my last season, and have been talked out of leaving more than once as well. I really appreciate your honest approach. There are so many things I've been interested in trying, but derby is like having another child. My son is honestly less demanding! I have been at this for six years, and even made a comeback after a fracture. I just feel the personal growth is coming to an end for me, so maybe it's time to see what adventures might be in my future. Thanks again for this...it was very insightful.

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