“Be Your Own Hero:” When Derby Calls…

7 Jan

[Note: This is Part 1 of a guest series by Hillary, a student, feminist and bad-ass skater for the Hellions of Troy Roller Derby Team.]


I’ve never really been able to figure out when it started.

It wasn’t an overnight decision or a “Eureka” moment.  I’d heard about it, I’d seen fliers hanging up around town when I first came to college, and I would always think, ‘that sounds so cool, but…’ and then conveniently dream up an excuse of why I couldn’t.  I had rehearsal, I had homework, I had a relationship, and I never had time.  There was no doubt about it, roller derby had some kind of hold on me, and I didn’t even know it yet.

I had decided to stay on campus and work for the summer.  It was my second summer away from home, which proved to be more difficult than I’d estimated.  Besides having a chronic case of homesickness, I didn’t have a lot of people to talk to, and my current relationship was in the middle of crashing and burning (an experience I am embarrassingly familiar with).

I hate to say it since I love derby so much, but I guess I joined out of sheer desperation.  I think a lot of women come to derby for similar reasons despite different circumstances.  I was tired of feeling sorry for myself.  I was tired of telling myself what I could and couldn’t do.  It was MY life after all, and going to my first practice felt like taking the steering wheel back after years of coasting towards an undetermined destination.

Now, before I go off on this Thelma-and-Louise fearless, feminist tale filled with daredevil shenanigans and buxom women, I must admit I was terrified.  I carpooled with a friend to my first practice, expecting to watch and drool in the presence of awesome ladies. But that was not the case.  Don’t get me wrong – there was drool a plenty, but it wasn’t from adoration.  It was more from when I went catatonic after the recruiter told me to put some skates on.

I hadn’t been on roller skates since I was 9-years-old.  My elementary school would host the occasional roller skating party after school in the gym and they were the social occasion of the decade!  Fourth grade social status was predominantly determined by your roller skillz, and luckily, I wasn’t too shabby.  I could glide with grace and push with might, albeit stopping wasn’t my strong point.

But that was then, and this was the vomit-inducing now.  I had never even been to a real roller rink before.  I stumbled onto the lacquered wood floor and felt like a 9-year-old all over again.  I was shaky and unsure.  The stakes were high.  And at the end of the night, I was not going to be given my ration of two oreos and a cup of fruit punch.  This was the Big Girl World, and I was rolling straight toward it.

To be continued…

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One Response to ““Be Your Own Hero:” When Derby Calls…”

  1. Elizabeth January 8, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    awesome series of tags on this post. “feminism. guest writer. hellions.” YES.

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