Being pregnant as a Roller Derby player is bloody frustrating.
Don’t get me wrong, the pregnancy for our second child is very much wanted and hoped for, but that doesn’t stop me feeling the frustration of stepping away from the sport I love.
Since first strapping on skates 6 years ago, Roller Derby, in particular Wiltshire Roller Derby, has become a huge part of my life and being, and has enriched my world in more ways that I could have ever imagined. I enjoyed exercise for the first time, my physical and mental health has never been better and it gave me a group of friends I didn’t even know I needed and now would never be without.
So hanging my sweat ridden, stinky helmet up, along with pads that can now walk to the airing cupboard by themselves for the next 12 months is a scary prospect. I find myself cleaning the bearings, just to have an excuse to touch my skates (which cost more than my first car). Can I really be leaving this all behind never really knowing if and when my skating life will ever resume?
…I’m frustrated, (or hormonal), watching my team struggle to field a full roster and being unable to help.
…I’m frustrated, (or emotional), realising how hard we all worked as a team last year to get promoted and yet I won’t get to play in the higher tier (this year anyway)!
…I’m frustrated, (more than peeing 8 times a night), watching as my teammates nail the skills and drills they have been working so hard on whilst I can only feel my ever expanding self, move further and further away from the skater I hope of being.
…I’m frustrated, (more than having “riverdance” restless legs in the middle of the night) watching in awe, the skating skills and tactics on display at the World Cup, whilst knowing it will be nearly a year before falling on my arse, trying any of them out.
Thankfully I learnt a lot during my first pregnancy to deal with this frustration. Firstly, I know I still need to turn up to training and feel like part of the team. Although it takes all the will power and a small lift to drag my ass off the sofa and away from a family pack of Doritos dipped in Nutella, just to stand in a cold sports hall, surrounded by roller derby players, whose pads smell like they’ve been plucked from a bin, I understand that I’ll regret not going and cherish the benefits of seeing my friends; I also know how much I can still learn just by watching and running the drills over in my head. I know I can still be a helpful part of the team. I volunteer to be a first aider for training just so it makes me turn up, I can play at being a ref, offer advice to newer skaters and even timing drills can be helpful to the coach. I also remain the Secretary for the league to keep me being involved
I am also honoured to be line up manager for the team this year. It is with a hint of jealousy, seeing my teammates nail the drills they work so hard to achieve, admiring the package come together to win, despite the odds, I am in awe of the team I feel proud to still belong to. With just a little bit of pride, I feel I’ve done just a little bit to help them and this feels almost as good as being with them on track...almost!
So for those that find themselves in my situation I can only encourage you to do what you can to stay involved in the team. Even when you are feeling sick, exhausted and stuck to the sofa - get up, get to training and be involved in any way you can. Your bond with the team and your teammates will only get better if you turn up, getting back to training is so much easier when you recognise more than half the faces on the team and there is so much you can do to help your team and still learn whilst being off skates. You can still be part of a Roller Derby team without skates on.
Getting back to being a roller derby player after having my son is one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I am dreading having to do it all over again. The torture of sleep deprivation, dealing with a body battered by pregnancy and childbirth, trying to juggle work, two children, a husband that works shifts and dragging my ass to training twice a week sounds almost impossible. But even so, still being involved in the team keeps my derby dreams alive and those with their eye on my space on the team better watch out, because this year of frustration only makes me want my space back on the team more than ever before and I am incredibly lucky to know my team still has my back and will help me get there.