Sometime last August I put away my derby gear like I did after every practice. At that time, I had no idea I wouldn’t touch it again for a year. Things were changing – I had a new job, a new breakup, a new living situation. And, since I was questioning or changing so many other things, I started questioning my place in roller derby, and roller derby’s place in me.
Derby was a difficult thing for me. I had never played sports, and hadn’t skated in over 20 years. I wasn’t particularly athletic. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be there.
Although derby gave me a respite from the daily grind, that was the most expendable thing for me at the time. I threw myself into work with so much gusto that I got more projects, which gave me even less time to do anything at all with the derby community. I was creating my own excuses. And so, after much deliberation, I went on an inactive LOA.
But derby wouldn’t go away. The bout posters that were hung in my office were a daily reminder. I creeped the league media pages. People who remembered I played would ask when my next bout was. I watched as the Brawlstars rose through the ranks, leapfrogging Division 2 to land a spot in the Division 1 playoffs. I missed being even a small part of that.
Choosing to come back, though, proved to be even more difficult than taking a break. What if I forgot how to skate? I had quit, would I be welcomed back? What if everything has changed? And then I realized the answer to all of my questions was “so what?”
Once I had overcome that mental hurdle, I made the decision that I would join Wave 12 Fresh Meat bootcamp. A2D2 has, in my opinion, the best Fresh Meat bootcamp on the planet. It’s 18 weeks of intense, thorough training that gradually introduces you to roller derby skills and gameplay. It would be the ultimate safe space for a reintroduction to the sport. Sure I’m nervous, but so is everyone else who will be there. And at least this time I know what to expect!
I’ve always said that I’d try just about anything, twice. So tonight, a year after I took a break, and two years after I started, I’ll hit the track again. I’m not particularly excited about having to skills test again in 18 weeks, but I am ready to get back into it, to meet the new skaters, to reconnect with my teammates, and to fall back in love.
Sneaking Beauty is a former Ypsilanti Vigilante and returning Fresh Meat skater.