Well hello there. So here it is…my small blog on the ROLLERcoaster ride of the past 8 years on skates (pun intended).
I can remember strapping myself into skates and protective gear back in 2010 on the floor of a local sports hall. I stood up and bang, my ass was on the floors in seconds. It hurt, but I got back up and I learnt how to, ummm, I would love to say skate. I learnt how to not fall constantly ha ha. It was my very first taste of roller derby. My friends and I watched Whip It and thought, “Yeah, this looks great. Lets do it.”. I was looking for a new challenge in my life and little did I know how significant this decision would be on the journey my life has taken. At the beginning of my derby life there were about 10 people in a sports hall. We didn’t really know what we were doing.l I had a decision to make. Do I stick with it or find something more established?
I decided to carry on going to the sessions every week; learning to skate, jump, transition, learning the rules of the game and then suddenly I was teaching others. I became part of the team. My confidence grew and grew. I felt fantastic. I thought “Yeah, I could help us one day become a good team.”
We, as a small group, asked advice on how to progress from other teams and we made a nice amount of friends in doing so. They would come and guest coach and I would go to their training sessions. We had a few games and I finally was getting it. Getting what the game was all about. I came from the time of if you take one knee before the whistle then it’s an automatic no pack. I think back now and I wonder why that was ever a rule ha ha. The game has changed tremendously and I have had to learn to change with it. We rebranded and then had to look at new halls to train in and where to find money. We had fundraisers and this helped to teach people what roller derby actually is.
We trained hard and had games at home as well as away. We were playing in tournaments and I was loving the buzz that I helped us get there. Well, that came to a halt. One training session I fell wrong and I broke my tibia and fibula. I was in hospital for a week whilst they operated to place what looked like the Eiffel Tower in my right ankle. I was in a cast for 9 weeks and had a lot of physio. My family were fantastic and teammates were with me when I needed them and they visited regularly. Whilst it was painful for me, both physically AND mentally, my leg in a cast and not being able to be on the track…when it healed I experienced a massive feeling of confidence. I GOT through the worst of it and emerged stronger instead of retreating and thinking I can never skate again. My confidence surged and I was proud of the day I stumbled back on to the track.
That day was two months after physio had started. I took the decision to not let a break stop me from what I enjoy. So, I strapped my skates on and went to training. I had a stumble and cried, but I proved to myself that I am a strong, young woman. Again, I got stronger and stronger. I even coached at times and I felt immersed in my team again. Three years after this I got hit in a game and, yet again, I took an awkward fall to the floor. Bang…I’d only gone and broke my left ankle this time. I thought “Well, I have recovered once I can do it again”. As Chumba Wumba would say “I get knocked down but I get up again, you’re never gunna keep me down”. However, this time it took longer to heal mentally than physically, and yet again the wonderful people I have met during my time playing derby helped me through.
I thought I was done with dealing with difficult things until one particular day whilst I was immersed in my coaching, I had a traumatic experience. It was a dark and tough time for me and my mental health suffered. My coaching role skidded to a halt. With the support of family and friends, things got better, and derby gave me a purpose and an outlet to help cope with things.
Derby has also brought me happier times. It was at a men’s away game that I met my fella. I promised my friend (skate name Gray) that I would support him at his first ever roller derby game and he took me up on this offer. Little did I know that his first game was in Newcastle and I drove him all the way there from Swindon and back. On his team in this game was a skater named Mr Incredibrawl. We got talking and, after a date at Pizza Express and LOTS of cocktails, we started seeing each other…and last year he proposed!!! I’ll be a future Mrs and it’s weird to think it was all because of that initial decision to go to that skate session all those years ago.
Like a track circuit on a really uneven floor, my derby journey has taken me on a succession of laps; my confidence rising and falling alongside my derby life and my personal life. Juggling derby, work and home life can be hard at times, but here I am in 2018, still skating strong with MY established fabulous team Wiltshire Roller Derby. I often look back on how far the team have come and the struggles that we have all had to overcome to become a team and push the game out to the public. I have noticed how strong we can be and helped each other through any troubles.
The latest stage on my skating story was taking a road trip to Stoke-on-Trent to participate in the British Champs Playoffs. It was a full surprise and joy that we made it to playoffs and we were in for a chance to move up a tier.
WRD as a team really rallied together to rise to the challenge. We trained so hard and long, pushed through the aches and pains, and there were tears along the way but we were ready.
Before this weekend I had been feeling like I was going to call it a day with skating. I thought that I was watching my team grow around me and I was stuck where I was with nothing to give to my team to improve them or myself. I thought that the end of Champs was going to be my last game, but this weekend has changed everything. I saw how we pulled together as a team. There were tears again. I thought our first game was fun and we celebrated our win graciously with team dinner. I also won an award for best blocker, this was a complete shock. We went on to day two thinking that we have exceeded expectations so let's have fun. We had so much fun and in the first game I was lucky enough to gain another award for recycling (for non-derby people this means I did good). I now have the derby bug back and I have realised I am not shit. I do bring something to the team, even if I am unsure what!
My team are the best and they have really given me drive to train harder go back the champs and go for the win next year!! They are incredible people and I hope that each and every one of them knows that they helped me to become the person I am and I got my derby love back.
They are my family on the track and at times the reason I decide to get my lazy ass off the sofa. I can honestly say that I am proud to be part of the one and only strong and mighty Wiltshire team.
OOHHHHH ARREEEE WEEEE!!!!!!!!