Have you ever hated yourself because you couldn’t fit inside societies little box? I have always been different and, for a while, I had this strong desire to just, fit in. Everyone finds Roller Derby at a different point in their lives. Some people, will honestly say they were saved by the sport. I found roller derby at a time in my life when I was frustrated with who I was. I wasn’t even comfortable in my own skin, and I felt like I didn’t have a place in the world. As a result, I was just kind of existing, but not living.
I moved a lot as a kid. From kindergarten to sixth grade, I attended six different elementary schools. I was also, very shy and quiet. Sports were how my parents got me out of the house. I was always good at sports, so long as the sport interested me. From first grade through college, I was always playing in some sort of club or team sport. At various points in my life, I participated in: soccer, tee ball, tennis, track, fencing, lacrosse, and team handball. Fencing and team handball were my collegiate level sports. I began to find more unique sports as a got older. For some reason, the less common or main stream the sport was, in the United States, the more passionate I was. So I guess, it was only a matter of time before I found roller derby.
As I mentioned in my, about me post, I didn’t see my first roller derby game till May of 2012. Leading up to that day, a lot had changed in my life, in a short period of time. I graduated college in May of 2011, moved to Missouri for a few months of job training, then immediately moved to Washington state to start my new job. Even though I was used to moving my whole life, I was not prepared for how drastic of a difference it would be to move without my family. I was suddenly on the West Coast for the first time in my life, while my parents and siblings were across the United States in New Jersey. The only person I knew, in Washington, was my roommate. Thankfully, he was a friend from college, was from Washington, and had family in the area. He kept me from drowning alone in my shyness. I say shyness, but lets be real, it was straight up anxiety towards social settings.
“Some people, will honestly say they were saved by the sport.”
On top of being on a new coast and far away from family, I was also in a weird place in life, in terms of understanding who I was. To be cryptically frank, I was one foot out of the closet and contemplating diving right back in. So while feeling a little lonely, a little unhappy, and a whole lot lost, an unexpected opportunity popped up. My roommates brother started dating a gal, who played roller derby, and wanted to get a group together to go see her next bout. My roommate extended the invite to me, and I was all for it, mostly because he was going, and I knew I could rely on him to make me feel less awkward in a social setting.
It was the day before the bout and suddenly everyone began to cancel their plans to go, including my roommate. The only two people available to attend were me, and my roommates brother. I didn’t know him too well, and everything in me wanted to also cancel. However, I really wanted to see roller derby! I was torn. In the end I stuck it out, and I’m so glad I did. Neither one of us knew what was going on, but we watched and I had a blast. I was fascinated by the names and the hard hits. It was like seeing Whip It in real life, and it made me so happy. The announcer mentioned that one of the teams was recruiting and right then and there I looked them up. The bug was planted. I wanted to join roller derby…
Tune in next time to hear how long it took me to follow through with that idea. I would like to hear what your first derby watching experience was like! Did you join first then watch a bout, or vice versa? Did it leave a lasting impression? Share your story in a comment below 🙂 Thanks for reading! -Jukes
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