How Can You Thank Someone…?

Dear Lady K,

I came to see The Chicago Outfit play in October 2010.  Having seen a certain roller derby movie, I wanted to check out the game for myself while I was travelling in the U.S.

I spoke to you at the merch stand. I didn’t have enough money to buy a singlet but somebody nearby found five bucks on the floor and we decided that it was fate intervening so that I could get the merch I wanted. You also gave me a free button, which, sadly, has since fallen off my bag and disappeared. I told you that I thought the game was amazing. You told me that I should join up. I told you that I didn’t think they had roller derby in Melbourne, where I’m from. You told me that the scene was growing and Melbourne was a part of that, and that I should join up.  I started brainstorming derby names.

A few months later, back home, I went to the local rink for a casual Saturday skate class mainly made up of obnoxious seven-year-olds. I fell on my arse and sprained my wrist so badly that I couldn’t work for two and a half weeks. The rink staff didn’t expect to see me again.

I came back three weeks later, much to their surprise. After a few months of lessons I found a group of interesting, inspiring, funny, caring women in a nearby league that had casual classes, which suited my commitment-phobia perfectly. I was enjoying exercise and sport for the first time in my life. I overheard my Dad, with whom I have a somewhat tense relationship, telling his friend on the phone that he was proud of me for my commitment and determination. I broke my hand, and after 3 months off-skates I cried with joy when I put them back on again. I cried often, with joy and shock at passing each skills test, and with frustration at myself and the overwhelming learning curve of scrimmage.

Through derby I have found a new kind of self-worth and awareness that has crossed into the rest of my life. It allows me to stand up for myself in ways I never could before.  I’m proud of my body now. I view it as a powerful tool to be used, rather than being anxious over it as something to be looked at and judged.

I want to thank you, Lady K, for one tiny conversation that changed everything for me. I know you’ll understand, because although everybody’s derby story is different, we’re all part of something amazing and if you didn’t feel how I feel about derby then you wouldn’t have had that conversation with me in the first place.

In two weeks, I will be competing in my first bout. I will be representing East Vic Roller Derby as part of our travel team, The Witches of EastVic, at the VIC/TAS Tournament.  I’m probably going to cry.  I’m so proud to skate with the women on my team, and so grateful that I get the chance to live this adventure.

A few honest minutes of your time that you probably don’t even remember has made my world infinitely better. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without derby. I can only hope that when little girls come up to me at the rink, or if some derby fan speaks to me at a bout in future, I can have some kind of positive impact on them too.  I hope also that I can continue learning and be a good enough skater to earn their respect, like you and so many others have earned mine.

Thankyou, so very much.

East Vic Roller Derby