Derby's the only thing I'm sure of. I wonder about every other path of my life, and only time will tell as to whether it's the "right one" or not (is this the right job for me? the right city?); I've made a ton of decisions, as we all do, and the only "big" one I'm sure of is my decision to skate and participate in roller derby.
It's actually quite amazing that derby is thriving as much as it is. But when you narrow derby's success down to the individual skater-run leagues, the skaters, and our power to all work together toward the greater derby good, I guess it's not so surprising after all.
I'm so proud to be a member of CCRG, one member from nearly 200 leagues all across the world - it's quite amazing the sheer number of women (and some men) who are involved in roller derby on a global level: promoting women athletes, women business owners, and the myriad of other leadership opportunities that are involved at the league level, the national level, and the global level. I have no doubt in my mind that derby has succeeded because it contributes toward a greater good - not just in the sports arena, but also in a much larger context than I think we can ever imagine.
This past summer while I was skating at the lake with Iona Handgun (you know, the lake I'm obsessed with?!), we were recognized as rollergirls, as we often are at the lake. We started talking to the family who approached us: A mother, father, and two tween daughters. They talked to us about the current season, the teams, and how excited they were that derby was again in Baltimore. The father let the rest of his family get a bit ahead and whispered to us: "What you're doing is so positive and good. You're an excellent role model for other women and young girls
Wow. In all the franticness of the season, the approaching championship game, my work trying to get new sponsors, and my work on the board of the league, I had forgotten that this thing that was fun, interesting, and challenging at both physical and mental levels was also incredibly fulfilling.
As a member of this modern derby resurgence, there is an undeniable amount of ego involved (the names, the uniforms, the themes), but more than that you learn to give, whether that's through being a skater who gives tips to girls who want to try out and have just put on skates for the 1st time in 10 years, captaining your team, being a league coach helping a struggling skater, planning events and fundraisers, acquiring sponsorship, organizing leagues at a national level, or talking to a founder of a new league who's on another continent about what worked and what didn't for your league.
In all the hustle that is being a rollergirl, you come away with so much more than new leg muscles and maybe a few injuries: you have gained confidence, leadership skills, an ability to better communicate with ANYONE, and maybe even practical knowledge, like how to run a business, that empowers you.
I think for so many of us (if not all), we can agree that we made the right decision to join and play roller derby. Regardless of whatever else is going on at the time in your life, derby is always a positive thing. I think this new perspective is going to help me, personally, not be so anxious about attending practice. I've said it before: I've never come home after a practice and felt bad. I'm going to ride this wave, follow this path, however you want to see it, because I know that I belong in derby, and who knows where it's going to lead me?