derby love

I’m not going to start at the beginning.

There’s going to come a point when this love affair ends, because I know it’s impossible to sustain this level of passion. Right now my fellow hatchlings and I are at the heady can’t-eat-can’t-sleep infatuation phase of our relationship with roller derby. It can do no wrong. From the moment my secondhand skates arrived, packed up with a little note signed “derby love” I was hooked. I woke up in the middle of the night at the weekend, rolled over, grabbed my phone and looked up “how to do backwards crossovers” on YouTube. My partner didn’t even stir. Nor does he bat an eyelid when I hurtle out the door at 8am on a Saturday for the 60 mile round trip I drive to the draughty village hall, where I happily submit to 120 minutes of derby-based torture.

derby girls

Every second sentence I say contains the words skate, wheels, or minimums. I spend hours every week thinking about our training sessions. We come home to ignored pets, bemused children, and neglected partners, then conduct the modern version of the post-game team hot tub – debriefing via Facebook on our phones in the bath.

It’s not that I want it to end: I wish I’d found derby when I was ten years younger. My thirty year old self could have done with an infusion of the guts and humour and bravery that characterises every team member I’ve met. But knowing there’s a time limit, that the intense emotional and physical demands that the sport requires can’t be sustained indefinitely, gives me an extra edge. I might be twice the age of some of the girls on our team but I’m going to bloody well skate hard and turn left and catch them if it kills me. And chasing the amazing derby butts is incentive in itself: nobody’s invented booty shorts emblazoned with “You want a bum like this? Skate harder” but it’s only a matter of time.

So for now I’m going to treasure every stiff-legged morning, every extra second I add to my (frankly hopeless) planking record, every bruise and crashing fall and moment of hysterical laughter with my team mates. I’ve never been a team player. I hated PE at school. But this passionate affair with roller derby is the stuff 80 year old reminiscences are made of.

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7 thoughts on “derby love

  1. Staggering around the house this morning rubbing my coccyx and counting the bruises I did wonder how long this is going to be a thing for me. How many knocks and falls and sores am I going to endure before I finally have enough? Not yet though, which is the main thing. I love it still. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a coccyx to massage. Youch.

  2. That’s a great post – thank you. Eight months into derby here and in a similar situation to yourself (pushing forty, only difference is that I’m a guy training as a ref for a women’s team) I do actually wonder if the passion /will/ end.

    Sure, perhaps it’s not quite as crazily intense as the first few months when absolutely *everything* was put aside in place of derby, and now I am having to schedule derby around inconvenient things like friends birthdays and weddings, but pretty much everything else bows down to derby. Frankly I’ve had relationships that were less passionate and consuming than this.

    I find that, much to my surprise, I care deeply about how my league and how the members within in it do personally and on the track in a way that’s not happened with many other activities since I was half my current age. There is a very real (and sometimes wrenching) emotional attachment.

    That’s one reason why the love affair needs to turn into something more stable, of course – in the long term it’s not healthy to be too close. I do, however, see it as hopefully changing into something that’s an integrated but not overwhelming part of my life, that still has the opportunity to throw up surprises and challenges. After a while you look around and find the affair has become a marriage.

  3. I’m off to my first training session this weekend – I’m 37, so I know how you feel about wishing you’d found this 10 years ago! Good luck – and with any luck, I may see you on the track some time 🙂

  4. Brilliant article. Me and my sister have just bought skates and been to our first couple of Roller Derby Drop Ins, desperately hoping that we will at least get to be Fresh Meat. My husband and her partner think it’s brilliant but also highly amusing how excited we get at the ages of 40 (her) and 38 (me) when we get on our skates and practise sticky skating and T-Stops. This is the most fun I have had in a long time :0)

  5. Pingback: we can do hard things | tales from the village

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