I broke my ankle playing roller derby 3 years ago this week. It was a rough week as my body seemed to remember the trauma well before I did. I started having nightmares and fixating and replaying the break several times a day. Since the break, I’ve struggled with finding a place in derby ever since.
Going through the healing of the break, I was angry, depressed, helpless, hopeful. My feelings ran the gamut. I refused to go to games, or practices. I reached the point where I actually put skates on and gave it a go again, and ultimately decided the fear of breaking again was greater than my desire to skate. I got angry again because I love my beautiful skates, and my husband is one of Ohio Roller Derby’s (OHRD) referees. Derby continued to be around me, even though I tried to get away. I got angry again. I watched my friends skating and even told Mike, the hubs, that roller derby took everything from me! Yes, I threw a hissy fit. I still am not thrilled by things, but life is never what you think it will be.
However, I’m now the home announcer for Ohio Roller Derby! After going with Mike hours before games started and trying to find a place to fit into the team atmosphere, with setting up, or any sort of busy work, I would hide — and by hide I mean sit in a corner and read my latest Harley Quinn comic book — until it was time for the game to start.
My best derby friend at OHRD, HardKore, was one of my first team Athens Ohio Roller Derby (AORD) During my second practice, after not having skates on my feet in nearly 20 years, lots of falling, being fat, she sat down in front of me and said, “No matter what, don’t quit. When I first started I had to be walked over to the railing and now I’m skating.”
HardKore wasn’t wrong. I learned to skate. AORD cheered me on and supported me while I learned to skate and helped support me when I broke. When I quit skating, HardKore’s words stuck with me. I didn’t want to quit and even though I’d like to skate, that’s still not going to happen. But I haven’t quit.
Turns out, I’m an announcer — not a skater, an official on or off skates. I’m an announcer. I’m still learning. My first game was in April 6th, and above are all the tools I had to use, besides my brain. My team, was loving and supportive. My heart was in my chest, but I knew things! I know the sport! and penalties! And strategy! I could geek out about the rules and fancy footwork!
My second gig was this past weekend. The Roller Derby Gods found an announcer buddy from Dayton who was helpful in showing me some tricks of the trade, and I was SO stoked. Now I knew this was a job I could really do, no matter how anxious I get.
I’m still looking for some mentorship but realize it is just going to take a lot of practice. I have one friend who hooked me up with a game that will undoubtedly teach me a lot. I’ll have more info on that as that date comes closer. But I have TWO more OHRD home games to do first.
And as for HardKore, when we were talking just yesterday I recalled this first conversation we had six years ago. I told her, I didn’t quit. I kept working on finding a space in which I could fit. Looks like that fit, is announcing.
My heart still races when I pick up the microphone. My ears still ring with every whistle that is blown. I still take a deep breath when I see a skater or skating official take a fall. But now I have found a place to contribute to a team and a sport that I love. It’s amazing and I love it.
Thank you HardKore for your love and support for SIX long, winding years. I did’t quit, and you are a part of why this is part of my path.