Roller derby has the ability to impact the lives of those involved in ways that you would not think possible. The sport draws men and women from all walks of life and all for different reasons. It can be completely life changing for a person, and for me it was. Let’s go back to June 2012, I had just turned 20 weighed about 225 pounds, suffered from severe manic depression and social anxiety, and had recently filed for divorce from my abusive husband. I was in a rut and I needed something and I didn’t know what it was. I was just about ready to give up when I saw something on Facebook about a roller derby open skate.
At the time of my open skate I could skate forward, and well -- that was about it. I didn’t make it through to Derby 101. The day I received the email, Genevicious just so happened to being eating at the restaurant I was working at, and after talking myself into it, I mustered the courage to walk up to her. After a quick conversation and me stating how much I wanted it, she informed me I could email a coach and see if I could get a second chance before 101 started. Before she left, I was set up with a second chance in two weeks. Someone who had no idea who I was took a chance on me. That’s the moment that Roller Derby started to change my life.
Every moment on the track for me was a struggle. Stopping, falling, not falling and stepping laterally were my enemies and I wasn’t even in 101 yet. This was just 2 weeks of open skates and lessons at USA skate. By the time 101 started I could function enough on skates to be comfortable. The struggles became harder at the time -- 25 laps in 5 minutes seemed impossible. After 3 months, our season had started. I had passed all of my testing and everyone was on a team, except for me. I wasn’t ready, but I finally started speaking up. I asked for helped. I was determined and things started to click on and off the track for me. Three practices a week, countless hours of outside of derby workouts, and watching bout footage; and come December at a practice, I was welcomed with several congratulations. I had been put on a team charter.
For the first time in my life, I had a lot of people tell me they were proud of me -- including my father. I had finally followed through with something and it was bettering me. I was determined. I was constantly getting my butt kicked on the track, but I grew with the sport. To date I’ve lost about 75 pounds, I am no longer on medication for my depression, and I am happy and healthy. Roller derby gave me back a lot of things I had lost. My confidence, my health and my life. I’ve been given a second family, which is not where I came from, but has gotten me where I am going. I never had too many people to fall back on -- my mom and my best friend -- but now I have about 40 women and numerous coaches and volunteers to help pick me up when I fall.
If you are debating joining roller derby, but are too scared of failing, take the chance. You only fail if you don’t try.