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


How To Start The Year Off Well.

First scrimmage of the year tonight! First scrimmage in over a month after only one training session back, actually.

Let’s be up-front: there were a lot of things I did wrong, many of which I’m probably not even aware of. Especially using the new rules set with refs-in-training, it was messy all over.

But I did some awesome stuff too.  I hit one of the travel team girls and she went down. That made me grin! Later I my hand up to jam one more time to challenge myself (it’s not my strength.) Everyone was still sorting themselves out into positions. I heard the jam start whistle when nobody else had and just went hoppity-skip straight through the whole pack before anyone had even noticed! Lead jammer pride moment deluxe! As I sped around the track I stuck out my tongue and gave the double metal horns to my bench coach. What a great feeling.  I managed to get through one scoring pass but so did the other jammer, so I called it off. I am also a little proud of the fact that I remembered that I was lead and could do that. Sometimes I have a brainfart and forget such very important things! 

Tonight’s scrimmage was one of the good ones.  I didn’t cry. I didn’t even feel like crying. I did feel like vomiting after jamming each time but I didn’t feel overwhelmed or terrified or as if I were being sat on by a giant Fail Whale at any point, even when I jammed. It was a safe space for me to work on my weaknesses.

Even having passed my purple star (this is bouting level and means I can play for real with big hard hits and terrifying intensity,) I have still felt like a new yellow – each time going out there thinking ‘Don’t hit me too hard, I’m new at this.’ Tonight we had two brand new yellows out there. Having that comparison of where I’ve come from, and having them look to me for guidance, made me realise once more how far I’ve come. I’m not a new yellow. I’m a purple. Sure, I’m a new purple and I still have a lot of work to do. But I’ll get there.

How My First Public Scrimmage Went

Yesterday at a boot camp run by Demanda Riot from the USA, I wanted to cry several times. I told myself and my friend who felt the same that we would wait until afterwards and then we could cry it out together. By the time we got to the end we’d forgotten about it.

Tonight I wanted to to cry from joy when I saw my friends after my first family & friends scrimmage, playing with another league to make up numbers. Neither of my parents were there, so having half a dozen friends there to cheer me on (regardless of how much the understand the sport,) meant the world.

The way I felt skating in this amber-level scrimmage tonight just reconfirmed everything I love about this sport. Yesterday I may have been feeling inadequate and useless, this morning I may have been questioning the pros and cons while inspecting my zombie-bruise leg and dalmatian-bruise shoulder, but tonight I feel positive. There IS a reason I do this. Tonight, a group of women who love roller derby got together and were oh so grateful for the opportunity to scrimmage together, and to be able to proudly show their friends and family what they’ve fallen in love with, and what they’ve been working so hard to achieve.

I was nervous upon getting there and seeing the rink packed full of spectators, but that only lasted for a few minutes before I got excited. Once I got out on the track to warm up and they were playing amazing tunes, I was so blissfully happy in anticipation that I felt comfortable and present. I had two of my friends from my league there with me in the thick of it.  I felt powerful (though not when I jammed and got stuck stuck STUCK behind a wall,) I felt resilient when I was knocked down but kept getting up, I felt calm and controlled when I was a focussed, communicative pivot (even though the opposing jammer got out of the box without us noticing that time and skated right past us.)

THIS is why I love playing roller derby. Yeah, there’s a heck of a lot of skills I need to improve upon. Yeah, I feel like shit sometimes when I can’t get something right. But I will get it. No matter how long it takes, I will get it. Playing at this level constantly makes me proud of how far I’ve come and what I do manage to do well in the moment, and it gives me goals for improvement. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity not only to do that but to show my friends how hard I’ve worked for almost two years, to get to where I am. Onwards and upwards!

How Derby Made Me A Scapegoat And A Troublemaker

Today I had to go to the Principal’s office. My heart was hammering more than I had thought it would, considering that I believe I am in the right in this situation, and that the Principal understands my side.

I’m not going to go into it in great detail, but essentially I am a scapegoat. 

This guy I work with at a Primary School (let’s call him Gareth,) is lazy, rude, selfish, useless at his job in various ways, and habitually unpleasant to work with. He also happens to be the nephew of our boss. 

I dared to mention a small issue I was having several months ago at a staff meeting. I didn’t name names but it was fairly obvious to whom I was referring. Since then my head-in-the-sand boss (who I was actually referring to as well but never mind,) seems to have gotten it into her rather sandy head that I have a personal dislike for and obsessive grudge against Gareth. Every other staff member has the same issues with him, but I was the idiot who actually said something about it, and have since questioned him on his actions repeatedly. 

In the past few weeks several other staff members have cracked and gone to the Principal with their issues regarding the Gareth situation. The Principal, however, has not yet addressed this with my boss or with Gareth. It was Sandy-Headed Boss getting sick of the “constant friction” between Gareth and myself and deciding that it was “worse than dealing with the children” (thanks for taking my concerns seriously, Sandy,)  that made her take that problem to the Principal. So the Principal has taken the opportunity to deal with the existing complaints by calling both Gareth and myself into the office (with Sandy there to sit in,) and discuss the problem without pointing out that it’s not just my problem. This has left Sandy and Gareth still believing that I am the only one with a problem with Gareth’s behaviour, which I am worried will impact negatively on my job. 

OK, so I did go into detail. But I could have gone into far more and turned this blog into How Much I Hate Working With Gareth. Seriously. I wrote four pages of notes before seeing the Principal, just so that I wouldn’t forget anything.

Anyway. I feel like I am a scapegoat here.  But the more I think about it, the less I mind – providing that my goaty martyrdom makes a real positive change in Gareth’s behaviour and the way that the workplace is run. If it doesn’t improve I will march back to the Principal’s office and demand that she Do Something (and not pin it on me.)

I’ve come to the conclusion that derby is the reason I’m in this situation.  A year ago, I would probably not have spoken up at a staff meeting.  I would not have sought out a meeting with the Principal yesterday to get my point across honestly and clearly prior to today’s meeting.  I would not have been able to adequately express myself the other day when Sandy called me into her office to discuss the situation while Gareth wandered in and out of the wide open office door. I would have been meek and would not have wanted to cause trouble.  

Well, derby has me causing trouble everywhere and stirring up the status quo. Destroying the joint, if you will. Simply put, I’m standing up for myself. In case anyone’s wondering (which nobody is really because I don’t think anyone actually reads this blog,) I did end up sending an edited version of that letter to the ref that yelled me down last week. (Haven’t heard back.) I told my second-in-charge boss at the school that she IS in charge and essentially she needs to stop bitching about Gareth with the rest of us and actually tell him the fuck off, because she’s the one who can. Instead of just bitching about it, I told off the two teenage boys playing with their basketballs on our court today at training because we had hired the court and they were distracting some of the skaters.

The decision that I wasn’t going to let people push me around at derby, a new part of my life at the time, has made me so much less likely to allow it to happen elsewhere.  I have learned to be more aware of people belittling me or manipulating me. I am learning how to react and to deal with it when it does happen. In meetings with my production company, if someone tries to speak over me now I will snap my head towards them and sharply remark that I was speaking. This may seem rude but after the years I’ve spent letting it happen with this group of people, it’s necessary to snap them out of it… and to snap myself.  Stop bitching about it, stop getting upset by it, and change it. Break the pattern.

Derby names or personas aren’t necessarily an alter-ego. Not to me, anyway. To me, my ‘derby persona’ is me. A truer, more powerful me. It’s the me that has been struggling to get out this whole time, finally given a chance to try things her way. 

How I’ve Been Treated

Dear Head Ref,

I need to tell you how upset I am by the way you spoke to me tonight at training.  I ask you to please not read this as an argument, but simply as me trying to express my feelings on what happened.

The reason that I have taken this incident so personally is because you hit a nerve with me tonight.  We all have our baggage, and this is some of mine.  For years people have talked over me, not taken me seriously, not listened to my thoughts, ideas and opinions. I think a large part of that was me letting them. I decided many months ago that I was not going to let this happen in my derby world, and thankfully it mostly hasn’t. This has helped me to be more assertive and stand up for myself in other areas of my life, and to identify when people are belittling me or not giving me the respect that I believe I deserve as much as they do.

I refuse to let this start happening at derby. Once it begins, it can be hard to stop it. Usually in the past I have taken the opinion that something’s not worth getting into an argument over, and I shut up and say nothing. I think that this is precisely why it keeps happening, because I’d prefer to avoid a commotion rather than to stand up for myself. I don’t want a difference of opinion or a misunderstanding to escalate into a full argument or yelling match, and that is why I let the subject be moved on tonight at training after you raised your voice at me and talked over me, rather than try to explain myself at the time.  I do however  feel as though I need to say something to avoid this happening in future or becoming a pattern.

When I said that some of the refs need to speak more loudly and clearly, it was not an attack on you or any of the refs personally, individually or as a group. I was simply giving some feedback from my experience in a recent scrimmage.  We’re all at scrimmage to practise and to learn, and that includes refs and NSOs.

The way that you spoke to me after my comment was uncalled for and unacceptable. I feel as though you overreacted and jumped down my throat for no good reason.  I understand that reffing is a really hard, really full-on job, and I am in awe of what the derby refs do – a point that I tried to make but you didn’t or wouldn’t hear because you were speaking over me. I understand that as part of a new league, all of our refs are in training too and therefore can’t be perfect at everything. That is exactly why such feedback is important. As head ref, you need to be able to take such observations or constructive criticism as they are intended (to help the refs be even better at what they do,) and not as a personal attack.
Surging, for example,  is pretty hard for someone who’s learning it; I need to concentrate on keeping my foot in front, keeping the right weight distribution, turning out my knee, getting the timing right, having enough momentum behind my body, making contact with my thigh, butt, hip, back and shoulder, keeping myself from tabletopping as well as avoiding using my elbow – but when you or any coach or skater tells me to keep my elbow in, I usually acknowledge that it’s something that needs improvement, thank you for pointing it out and say that I’m working on it. We’re all trying to be the best skaters, players and refs we can be in order to make ourselves and our league stronger, and part of that is listening to feedback and taking it on.

We both know that sometimes you and I have very different ways of understanding things, but I ask you to please be more mindful of the way that you talk to me because it may have more of an effect than you realise.  I don’t want this to become a pattern. I want to be able to enjoy the freedom of my derby world without constantly questioning myself or being put down like I so often have been everywhere else.

Thankyou for taking the time to read this.





I’m probably not sending this to the ref in question, but I thought I’d get it out of my system a little. How should I stop it from happening again? Any ideas would be appreciated.


How I (want to) See Myself

Two nights ago I had a naked dream.

My naked dreams usually involve me being in underwear or topless, bottomless or fully nude at work, and it’s as though it’s not against the rules. Then suddenly the rules change and I’m trying to make coffee whilst covering my cumbersome breasts with one arm and hoping there’s a break in customers so that I can go to the bathroom and find a shirt, or hoping that my boss won’t look at the security footage later on and find out. Or I’m hiding from the kids at the school I work at, in a toilet cubicle, and trying to put on a bra in front of my boss in slow motion because if I do it really slowly she might not notice anything’s amiss, and I can stop being naked without anyone noticing my body.

This dream I had two nights ago was different.  I was walking home along the highway completely nude, with my hair flowing around me, sometimes creating a Lady Godiva effect. The sun was shining. I hit a downhill section, so instead of walking, I flew. I dived and swooped and soared through the air, loving the feeling of my body as I watched myself from outside of me.
I knew my dad was coming to visit me and might drive along beside where I was, so I thought I’d cover up for his sake not my own – I stopped in at a friend’s delightfully bohemian warehouse apartment and borrowed a sundress which I wriggled into. It was roomy and cheerful, and I could feel my naked body beneath it, still the same shape and still something I loved.

I’ve been thinking a lot about body image recently. I read a paper on feminism and identity in roller derby, and it noted how roller skating in the nineteenth century became a way for upper-class women to experience their bodies and their physicality differently.  Rather than simply being an avenue for attracting a husband and carrying children, it was something that they could actively use for physical pursuits, and through that they found empowerment.

I have been trying to view my body in this way. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. It matters that I can use it in ways never known to me before; that I can do C-curves; that I can surge someone and push them out of the way using the whole of my body; that I can join in the experienced speed skate at general skate sessions after improving on my personal best by two laps. I would like to do more exercises for my core but I’m not really thinking about it as something to make me comfortable wearing a bikini – it’s to improve my skating, my stability and my strength.

I have not yet begun to reconcile this with the fact that I do a bit of burlesque, which is largely about how the body looks. That’s too big to tackle right now. I think in those terms I’m going to try to work on my flexibility and coordination so that my dancing improves. I know that if I focus on the exercising to maintain and improve the way I use my body, the fitness and the look will follow in its own time. I still do think that I would like to be slimmer and more toned, and yes, wear a bikini. But I’m thinking about that side of it less.

The image that I have aligned myself with via my derby name is that of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. They are not thought of as the prettiest of creatures but they have big, strong, powerful legs that can push and push them. They are formidable. My thighs and butt are getting chunkier by the month as my derby life goes on, but I see that as a positive. I’m going to be like the king of the dinosaurs in its prime. My legs will be powerful, and people will be in awe.


How Many Possibilities?

At work last Thursday morning I was in a really great mood.  Especially considering I got there at 5:30am.  I felt like I had good news to tell people, even though there wasn’t anything in particular to tell. I felt like I had a secret, except that even I didn’t know what it was. I was all smiles for the beginning of my shift.

A regular customer came through, and we were talking as I made him his coffee. Well, it somehow came into the conversation that he knows Hanson because they grew up in the same town.
My mind was of course completely blown. Hanson’s Middle Of Nowhere was the first album I ever bought, after saving up all my pocket money. I had posters of them all over my walls. I did a school project on them in grade 5. I don’t care if they’re all married with kids now, I still love them.

As they were playing in my city over the weekend I thought that it would be awesome if he could get tickets and take me with him – but the cafe was very busy and he left before I thought to ask or to give him my number.

Later on, I asked my coworker what the chances were that she was working the next day and could pass it on.  She told me that she wasn’t working, but either way it wasn’t going to happen. I grinned at her, my eyes wide, and threw up my hands.

“You never know! It could happen!”

“No. It’s not going to happen.”

“But it could.”

“It couldn’t.”

“It’s worth a shot!”

I was having a bit of fun being silly and optimistic – I assumed that the reason she thought it couldn’t happen was because the customer was probably not actually phone-number-sharing-free-ticket-holding buddies with Hanson and realistically the chances of him getting me into the concert were very slim.  This may have been true – but a slim chance is still a chance, and how was I going to know unless I tried?

As it turns out, that wasn’t her reasoning. She actually didn’t question the likelihood of tickets – she just knew that he wouldn’t go with me.

“Why not?!” I exclaimed in my slightly hyperactive state. “He’s awesome, I’m awesome, Hanson are awesome! Why wouldn’t he take me?!”

I was, I think understandably, offended that she didn’t think he’d want my company. I kept asking her why she would say that, how did she know?

“He just wouldn’t do that,” she replied. “He doesn’t know you.”

“Not yet, but how else do you make friends?! You hang out with someone you know a little, then you get to know them more, then you become friends! That’s how it works!”

“Yeah, but not one-on-one like that.”

“What do you mean?! People do spontaneous things with people all the time!”

“No they don’t.”

“Yes they do! People have adventures! We could have an adventure!”

“Not with him you couldn’t.”

“Why not?” I protested.

“He just wouldn’t. It’s not the sort of thing he’d do.”

“Why? What makes you say that?” I persisted. “I’m not asking rhetorically. I actually want an answer. Why?”

“Just… his work… the way he talks…”

She couldn’t give me an answer that I accepted as good enough or specific enough. But she was adamant that he would never in a million years hang out with me outside of being served his morning coffee. She refused to believe that he is a person capable of going on an adventure like that. He has a stretcher in his earlobe, I’m sure he’s at least a little adventurous!

The good mood I’d been in earlier had vanished.  I was quite upset. It wasn’t until later that I realised – I wasn’t offended because she didn’t think I was worth going on an adventure with – I was hurt somewhere very deeply to be told that something could never happen.

How dare she tell me what is and isn’t possible?  How dare she tell me that people don’t have adventures? People have adventures all the time! I met a guy at a funeral for about 2 minutes then a week later he added me on facebook – when he next came back into town we spontaneously went to see a new band together and ended up spending the whole weekend in each others’ platonic company. My best friend recently went on a spontaneous drive into the hills with a guy she was friends with but never close to, and now they’ve been dating for a month. Another friend cancelled on me for the Aqua concert because he got sick and I took his friend instead. She and I had an amazing night and now have in-jokes whenever we see each other.

Anything is possible.
If you’d told me six years ago that I would go into comedy, I would have called you the joker. If you’d told me five years ago that I would travel foreign-speaking countries on my own and even learn some French, I would have thought it bullmerde. If you’d told me four years ago that I would create my own production company, have sell-out crowds in the Comedy Festival three years running, and co-produce a successful web series, I would have laughed in your face.
If you’d told me two years ago that I’d be playing a sport on roller skates and training four days a week, drinking protein shakes and staminade and doing situps without being told to, just for the power of it, I would never have believed you. Heck, if you’d told me five weeks ago that I could possibly pass my Yellow Star test in September, I would have burst into tears and told you that there was no way known (A few of my friends can attest to that.) Now there’s a chance I could get my purple star and be bouting by the end of this year. I might not, but who knows?

Sometimes you need a cheerleader for possibility and the joy of just living, and today that’s me.

I don’t want to live in a world where I’m told that things can’t happen.  Because they can happen, and they do.

I need to believe that, or what else is there?

Don’t you dare rain on my parade!

Anything’s possible.

How The Hell…?!

There IS crying in roller derby. In fact, for someone as emotionally charged as me, there’s been quite a bit.

I just found out that I passed my yellow star test.

I have tears streaming down my face and I can’t stop smiling because I am SO. PROUD.

So far in my derby career there have been three instances of crying for joy and/or excitement, and many more of frustration and sorrow.  Even more almosts for the latter, but that’s ok.  That’s the reason why I’m crying right now. It wouldn’t be so amazing if I hadn’t worked my arse off for it!

I didn’t really expect this so I am kind of in shock. I don’t even know what else to write.  I have to dry my tears and go to work now anyway, so that’s probably for the best.


How Much Difference A Year Makes

Last Friday was my first derbyversary. I have mixed feelings about this, as many people do about birthdays as they get older. On one hand I’m grateful to have all of the things I have because of this last year – but on the other, I feel disappointed that I haven’t achieved more.

I could go on for a while about how frustrated and ashamed I am because of how far I haven’t gotten in a year, but what would be the point? I cannot change it. It’s out of my control. The only thing I can do is keep focussed and keep pushing myself towards where I want to be.

So on this derbyversary, I will be grateful.

Derby has changed my life.

Never before have I enjoyed sports or craved exercise. Through derby I found a pilot light, and even though sometimes when I have a bad day, I think about going to training and I get a pathetic flick-flick-flick – I just have to keep pushing the button, and once I get started the flame just takes off. At the end of the session I always want to keep my skates on and keep moving my body.  When I go for a skate in the morning, my legs feel strong and powerful in the afternoon.

Derby has challenged me not only physically but mentally. It has challenged my very beliefs. There are ways of thinking that seemed natural to me before, ideas about possession and identity that this society has brought me up on, and that I have since realised are not healthy and are not the way things have to be.  There is still a way to go before I can let go of some things, but I like to think I’m on my way. I have shared so much with the women and men in my league, which before I would not have been willing to do.

Derby has given me a new group of friends that I would not otherwise have made. With this fresh group of people, I have been able to have a fresh start.  I haven’t reinvented myself as such – but I have given myself permission to be the person that I want to be, the person that has been trying to be heard in other areas of my life. I don’t know if the problem in other areas began with people treating me badly or with me letting them – but I decided about 9 months ago that there is no way in hell I’m going to put up with shit like that from anyone at derby. I simply will not let it start. There have only been a couple of people out of the dozens of derby people that I’ve met who have given me attitude or negativity – but now I won’t allow myself to be belittled or put down. I won’t allow anyone to talk down to me or batter my self esteem like they do in my other worlds. And you know what? It’s carrying over. Slowly but surely I am standing up for myself more often at work or with friends who don’t treat me as respectfully as my derby friends do.

I think that derby can make you a better version of yourself, if you just let it.

Happy derbday to me, and oh so many happy returns. ❤

How It All Started

I first saw Roller Derby being played by The Chicago Outfit in late 2010. I didn’t realise then that crossing roller derby off my travel to-see list would change my life. I didn’t think we even had derby in Australia, but a player called Lady K told me that Melbourne had a growing derby scene and that I should look into it.

About 3 months later, I put on some hired skates at my local rink and joined in the casual Saturday afternoon class with the obnoxious 7-year-olds. Boy oh boy can they be arseholes when they’re better than you at something! You can’t clothesline them either, because their parents are watching.
I remember thinking that if I could ever do crossovers, I would be the most graceful person in the world.
We were working on backwards scissors. I was having the hardest time – I couldn’t even believe I’d managed forwards scissors, and attempting backwards seemed impossible.
“Are you still on your first lap?” enquired one of the obnoxions.
I tried to remain positive through gritted teeth.
“Oh.” She paused between scissors with her feet neatly together. “I’m on my fourth.”

The end of the class came and I still hadn’t gotten from one end of the rink to the other without stopping. All the other little girls in the class went gracefully rolling off to their parents, who praised their skating and bought them icypoles to stave off the sweltering Melbourne Summer heat in the corrugated iron rink shed.
I stayed. I was not going to leave until I had done a full length of the rink in backwards scissors without stopping. I huffed and I puffed through the general skate, I swore under my breath and I used muscles I didn’t know I had (a feeling that would become irritatingly familiar throughout my derby progress).
Then, somehow… I did it. The instructor was at the end as I got there, and she laughed at the giant grin on my face. I held up my hands and she gave me ten.

Then I skated off and bought myself a icypole – because I deserved it.

And when I passed Star 1 level and they gave me my certificate, I was so proud that I put it on the fridge to show my Dad.

Several months of making it to class when I could, two skating star class levels, and my own pair of derby skates later, I braved my first derby development class. The casual classes that this league ran worked so much better for my busy busy life than committing to another, closer, league’s fresh meat intake. I didn’t think I could tie myself in to two or three nights a week.
After that first class, I only missed about 2 sessions in 6 months.

The first session was unbelievable. I brought my dad’s bike helmet with me then tried to hide it (and my embarrassment) when I saw the gear the league had to lend to newbies. I got a decent helmet, but I think I ended up with mismatched elbow pads on my knees. 

During the next hour I pushed myself so hard physically; harder than this sport-hating, exercise-avoiding performing arts nerd had ever gone before. The last time I’d been part of any sport was in primary school (my basketball team only won three times, coincidentally the games I didn’t play,) and here I was doing laps (laps?!) back and forth on the rink with single knee taps! I panted and sweated and hoped upon hope that my legs would keep holding me up and nobody would see how much they were shaking.

But this was derby, and derby girls don’t complain; derby girls push through and get on with it. Derby girls don’t apologise and derby girls suck it up, princess. So I put on a brave face and pushed. By the end of the lesson I’d jumped over 3inch cones (only falling on my arse once – and not even crying!) and worked on the move made so popular by Drew Barrymore, whips. I had scuffed up the toes of my derby skates – someone came running over to me with gaffer tape, but I couldn’t have been more proud.

I think it’s good to look back on where you started. Every time you get frustrated with a new skill you just can’t get, or a new level that makes you feel out of your depth, think about how far you’ve come. January 2011 me is super impressed that I can do scissors and crossovers. August 2011 me is amazed that I can be so comfortable skating in such close proximity to others. December 2011 me has a fist in the air when she sees me do a sweet plough stop, January 2012 me is stoked that I can do turn around toe stops at all and April 2012 me is pretty darn proud of how much I understand the rules of the game now. Every wall I come up against will one day just be one of those ‘me’s cheering the present day me on. And it’s nice to have so many people back there supporting me.