Tag: belonging

Confessions of a (Nearly) 50 Year Old Derby Girl: Nausea and Peanut Butter Ice Cream

By Phoenix
(Cherri Boom recently changed her derby name)
Nausea and Peanut Butter Ice Cream
I hate throwing up. A lot. Last week, after two hours of struggling through my first contact practice, I was battling the urge to hurl, hard. My legs were jiggly, my stomach was churning, I was salty, crusty, and sweaty. Full disclosure, I booked it out of practice fully expecting to lose my lunch in the parking lot.
When I got home, I rinsed the skate sweat off my body, put on my PJs and crashed. But the nausea kept coming for a couple of hours. I finally dozed off, waking at about two in the morning and didn’t get back to sleep for the duration.
I had pushed myself hard, really, really hard, and had still come up lacking. I felt it, literally, in my gut. I wondered, not for the first time, if maybe this derby thing was out of reach for me after all. 
For the next few days I was emotionally wobbly. Every time I thought about derby I had a mini panic episode. I love to skate, be in the league, take on the challenge of learning new skills, but was this more than I could handle?
I fell back on my coping tools: derby tutorial videos, inspirational reading, k

ick-ass playlists. But by the time I was in the car, headed to my next practice, I was forcing myself to sing “Unstoppable” and fighting back tears and anxiety. I was NOT unstoppable. I was a ridiculous middle aged woman clutching a pair of roller skates.

I got to practice early, hoping to have a chance to pull myself together before practice started. I was breathing, mindfully gearing up, being in the moment. By the time I was ready a couple of other girls had arrived and I started feeling a little more normal. It was beginning to look like a small practice on a stormy night and something about that combination began to work on me like an environmental antidepressant.
It was as though the derby gods were bestowing mercy on my troubled derby heart. The pace of practice that night was deliberate, almost zen. Fish served the skills, plain and simple, on a no-nonsense plate of derby knowledge, and suddenly, before I knew it, I was rocking a few new skills and feeling “great-full”.
At the end of practice, Fish dished out a little more wisdom, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. It went something like this. Paraphrased, of course:
Derby is hard work. We each bring to it what we have, no more, and hopefully, no less. Some days you just feel like you suck. You can’t do anything right. On those days, you have to accept that your all is less than you wanted, but it’s what you have and it is enough. No amount of criticism, whether from yourself, or from others, is going to squeeze any more blood from that turnip. So, accept that you did everything you could, and next time you’ll be able to do more. No matter how you feel, you’re here. You worked hard. You earned the right to be here. You belong here.
I think everyone at practice collectively breathed a sigh of relief. It seemed like we had all been holding our breath, waiting to hear those very words.
That night after practice, instead of running for the car, hoping I wasn’t going to puke, I went out with my girls. We were a team, eating ice cream, laughing, and talking about all the things we love about roller derby. And that night, my eyes were closed before my head hit the pillow. I don’t remember what I dreamed, but I’m pretty sure I was hitting my new roller skills and laughing and chatting with my derby peeps about how cool it is to be a derby girl.

There’s a Place for Everyone

By SugarBaby


You might think Roller Derby is not for you. No place for someone who believes she’s 26.3 pounds overweight and would look terrible in leggings. No place for a baker, or a painter. No place for someone who loves yoga and butterflies, or to Contra dance and quilt. No place for someone who never kicked a soccer ball, played hockey, or ran track in high school. That it’s not a place for a mom of three little kids. Or two. Or one. Or five. Or for a teacher or nurse or accountant. No place for someone who likes to sit quietly and read for hours. Or for someone’s Nana. Or for someone with a disability. It’s definitely no place for someone who has never even been to the roller rink, right? There are a million reasons why it could never be for you. But you’d be wrong. In my league, there’s a place for everyone

You can join my league and become a tribal skating machine that flattens women left and right for the glory of your team and our league. If you want to do that, then yes, we want you, please join ASAP. But maybe that’s not you…yet. Or maybe that’s not you ever. And that’s okay. You still belong.

Maybe you’ve put your all into parenting–which is an important and respectable pursuit–but now you’re ready for a little you time. Maybe you need a kick start to get some exercise. Maybe you’re looking for someone to dance or laugh with on Friday night after practice, or a chance to run around in a rainbow tutu at a community parade. Maybe you have some pent up frustration toward the older brother who used to make your life hell and you’d love to roll around and crash into people as a way to vent. (Umm, I might be getting too personal here.) Anyway, my league can offer all those things.

We have skaters at all levels, from “Bambis” to experts who’ve played derby for years. We have a new training program for officials who skate and those who don’t. We have members who don’t skate very much or at all, but who enjoy the camaraderie, the committee work, and the community service aspect of membership. I am a trainer for our Derby 101 program. You can join AFA and we’ll teach you how to skate as safely as we can, and we’ll also support you in every step of your individual journey. And we’ll love you for being you and be happy with whatever niche you settle into as a member.

The only people who don’t belong here are those who are not accepting and supportive of every walk of life. They’re the ones who are judgy and demeaning. They might think that girls who play roller derby must come with a master’s degree in beating people up and an attitude tailored toward destruction. They’re mean and intolerant. I’m sure that’s not you, and that’s why you do belong.

We’ve all heard it. Change is good for the soul. Well, I believe that derby comes into your life at just the right moment when you need it. It will provide something for you that you’re not going to find elsewhere. This sport is so unique, it’s hard to explain what happens when you fully embrace it. Scientists have proven that your brain changes when you take on new challenges. New connections and pathways erupt, and all this improves your mental acuity and longevity. Derby is doing that for everyone who joins, and it’s also cutting new pathways in our community. Our fans see what this large group of individuals have achieved–a sustainable, healthy nonprofit league with a board of directors and eight committees that handle everything from training, to bout planning, to community service, for the purpose of fostering “teamwork, empowerment, and community engagement” (AFA Mission Statement). And I believe it’s inspiring to those who want change, not just in their lives but in our world. Yes, if people work together toward a common goal, great things can happen. The lovers and skaters of roller derby have not just jumped out of the box, they’ve stomped it flat and kicked it to the recycling bin. They are a new breed of independence and acceptance, and frankly, I believe we desperately need more of just that.

I wanted roller derby because I wanted to prove something to myself, that I’m strong and capable. And I also wanted derby because I could do this proving of things while roller skating and making friends and smashing into people, which I happen to think is fun. I also might be going through a midlife reinvention, known to some people as a crisis, but so what? What better way to change your life than with an instant horde of companions who’ll push you, and challenge you, and help you, and be there for you?

All those people I wrote about at the beginning, all those people who don’t belong, I guarantee that all of them are or could be playing roller derby. Just like you could be if you’re looking to fire up some neurotransmitters and pave a new path. And personally, I think you’ll look awesome in leggings. Everybody does. And they’re comfortable and practical and stretchy, so who cares anyway? Anyone who gives a fig about your leggings–this is not about them. This is about you.


(AFA will be recruiting new skaters to start in our Derby 101 program, beginning in September. For more info follow our Facebook Page, or send us an email at afarollerderby@gmail.com)