Why Can’t I Quit You, Roller Derby?

Ok, right up front, I am telling you that I’m NOT quitting roller derby.  However, the last couple months have been tough.  For various reasons, I’ve considered hanging up my skates, even though I’ve only been skating for not quite a year (it will be a year at the end of April, so that’s close enough for government work, right?).  I’ve certainly seen other ladies come and go in the league over that short period of time, I’ve come to terms with my social anxiety issues (well, I’m working on them…), and I’ve made a few friends (just fyi, I’m a horrible friend, so if you’re reading this, I’m sorry you’re my friend, but I love you anyway so you’ll just have to put up with my horribleness).  I’ve survived a year’s worth of derby drama (what? Roller derby drama?  No way!!!), and I’ve worked really hard on my skating skills (I advanced from the red to yellow skill level – hooray!).  I feel like derby has changed my life.  But, and this is the part that is hard to admit, derby is not my life.

I’ve read so much about women who’s “souls were saved by roller derby”, and who just won’t give up for anything, no matter what the pain, what the circumstances, what the obstacle.  It’s hard for me to admit that I am not like these women, although I think that when I started derby a year ago I wanted to be…and in that respect, that’s where I feel like I have failed.  I have started feeling like a slacker in the derby girl department.

Don’t get me wrong – I love skating, I’ve seen personal growth, and have made some achievements I’m proud of.  But I’ve come to the conclusion that being a competitive derby skater is probably not sustainable for me at this point in my life; the work-life-derby balance is way off.  I just turned 40, am going back to school, have a stressful 40+ hour a week job, and I don’t have the time to beat myself up about not making attendance, volunteer hours, all the meetings, and any other requirements it takes for skaters to become green-level and bout-cleared.  And if I’m really being honest, even if I continued busting my ass to make all those requirements, I’m not sure I’ll ever be green and bout-cleared; I’m just not sure I will ever achieve that skill level.

But here’s the thing – I can’t quit derby.  I love skating too much, and it’s really most of the exercise I get.  I love the camaraderie.  I love how supportive the women in our league can be.  My assistant coach, Next of Ken, has been my personal cheerleader and has helped me achieve so much growth and success.  But if I go to drop-in status, I feel like I’ll lose a lot of those things that I love about derby.  So my compromise: I will still be a dues-paying member and will do my best to attend all the on-skates practices (and off-skates and meetings when I can).  I will have to accept the fact that I probably won’t make my attendance and volunteer hour requirements for the time being.  But I hope to stay connected with the ladies in the league that I have grown to know and love.  I’ve talked with my coaches and the BOD about my situation, and they seem supportive and understanding, and for that I am very thankful.

Frisky Sour recently posted on her blog an article called “Quitting Roller Derby“.  Her last paragraph really hit home for me:

People pop in and out of retirement all the time. Roller derby isn’t going anywhere. It’ll hold while you go have a baby,  finish your degree, catch up on your Netflix, learn to make beer, or spend a year in Budapest – whatever it is that’s calling to you.  There’s a whole, big, beautiful world out there. Roller derby definitely exposed me to a number of experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise, but it prevented me from experiencing a lot, too. There’s only so much time in your life. Do what you want to do. — Frisky Sour

I’m not heading towards retirement yet (heck – I haven’t even really busted my scrimmage cherry!), and I’m not quitting.  At this point, I’m happy that I’ve gotten to experience roller derby – it was on my list of things to do.  But there are other things I want to do too, things that I have to do.  I just have to recognize that it doesn’t mean I love derby any less, or that it hasn’t made a positive impact on my life, or that it won’t continue being a positive force in my life into the future.  Because I’m still skating, and getting up when I fall…and for now, that will have to be enough.

15 thoughts on “Why Can’t I Quit You, Roller Derby?

  1. This sounds completely reasonable and well thought out. Roller derby is a huge commitment. You’ve achieved more than most people, me included, in the roller derby realm. Sounds like you’ve found your niche.

    And I LOVED your one does not picture!!

  2. You’ve accomplished a lot and made a difficult choice. But it IS all about knowing what’s most important right now. You won’t want to hear this, but it’s no easier after retirement for people with active lives. I just had to make the same decision to give up a pursuit I loved, but I wanted to try writing and knew I couldn’t give adequate time to both, plus working out, helping with grandkids and spending time with Hub. It’s always choices, and you’ve done well reasoning through your decision. WOW roller derby – I’m in awe!!

    • Thanks for the wise words, Sammy! This decision felt right – quitting seemed too extreme, but I knew I couldn’t keep going at the same rate and do all the things I need/want to do. Especially with me going back to school and trying to get into a new field…it was just way too much. I guess it is all about balance – I’m happy that you’ve done some balancing in your life to favor what you feel is important. And cheers to more writing – that’s one of the things that I want back in my life too! 😀

  3. Wow!! I so relate!! I’ve been in derby for only about 12 months, 6 of them spent out with a trimalleolar fracture. I just played in my first bout (friends and family only). That was 3/2 and I haven’t been back, for many reasons. I felt like I didn’t play well, my ankle hurt like hell and I could barely walk for a week, plus I worked every practice day (13 hr shifts). Ive been pondering if I should be doing this. My guilt for not being at practice, fund raisers etc has been overwhelming! But I can’t quit, nor do I want to! I have a love for derby, but just as you describe I can’t possibly be as committed as many of the others. You put so many feelings I’ve been having into words, and I didn’t even realize that it was guilt making me feel so bad! Thanks for the awesome writing!!! It has truly helped me get over my guilt and back to derby on my own personal terms!

      • Oh, thank you so much for responding to my post! I can totally relate, but without the injury part. The solution for me was to make a compromise that I could stick with: commit to the on-skates practices, and consider the rest as bonus if I’m able to do more. Something else might work for you. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing – find the in-between that works for you. Additionally, my assistant coach strongly advised me to keep my coaches and BOD in the loop about other commitments and choices I had to make surrounding derby; they were incredibly supportive, and it might just take some weight off your shoulders to let them know what’s going on. You’re not alone! On a separate but related note, please make sure you’re giving your body enough time to heal! Pushing yourself too hard can really set your recovery back (I’ve seen in happen…). Anyway, thanks SO MUCH for the nice note – I’m glad I could give you my perspective and that it is something that you can relate to. It always helps to know you’re not the only one feeling a particular way! ❤

  4. I just posted this on my Facebook. I could have written it myself. I’ve had so many injuries over the 8 years I’ve been playing, and at 42, it’s harder and harder to bounce back. But… I’m still skating, and my daughter is playing now, as well.

    Thanks for reading my mind.

    • Oh my goodness – thanks so much for sharing my post! I’m lucky enough to have not gotten seriously injured (knock on wood), but I know several people in my league who have, and it is really difficult for them. It makes us all think about the pros and cons about derby, and what our priorities are…but for most of us, derby is still a priority and we keep coming back (to whatever extent we can). Anyway, glad you’re still skating, and with your daughter! Cheers, marci ❤

  5. I totally understand. Thanks for sharing your heart. I am missing my team’s bout tonight because I can’t skate 27 in 5. Tried 8 times and each time did 26.5 in 5. So sad! I will try again. By the way, I am 53 and have been skating for less than 2 years. I can’t quit yet either!!!!

    • Ugh!!! That must be so frustrating!!! I’m still pretty slow – the best I’ve ever done is 24 in five, so I’ve got some work to do. I really admire your perseverance though, and I’m sure you’ll make 27 soon!!! Rock on with your 53-year-old bad ass self! Thanks so much for stopping by 😀

  6. Pingback: Getting Beat Up by the Roller Derby Blues | Fuzzy Undertones

  7. Pingback: I survived my First Roller Derby Scrimmage! | Fuzzy Undertones

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