I’ve been involved in roller derby for a good few years now, training 2-3 times a week, playing 3-5 games a year. Coaching, training, playing, organising, and initially I was at a loss. But in all honesty right now, I don’t miss it. Don’t get me wrong, if we could start the sport again I’d be there with bells on, but hear me out….
Roller Derby absorbed around 75-80% of my non-work time. I didn’t have time to do a lot of basic adulting/life stuff because of Roller Derby. Over the past few years my relationship with the sport overruled everything else in my world, my friendships, family, social life, ability to rest, develop new relationships, and we weren’t even a high level WFTDA team.
We didn’t just strap on skates and play a sport, we had to organise, be on committees, contribute to events, create materials, design merchandise, develop training tools and plans, invest in members and develop their derby skills and also to an extent their soft (real world) skills – and have meetings, so many meetings!
It’s a lot. And although I’ve spent my lock-down period living alone, it’s actually proved to be a time that I held onto the relationships that matter, or that gave me time to touch base and renew contact with lost friends who were ‘muggles’ (non-derby folk), and I know what you’re all saying – maybe that’s on you and your just a shitty person and a bad friend – and yes, to some extent you’d be right, but in the same breath if something takes up such a large percentage of your time it’s only natural that you would lose a lot of things that also made you, well… you.
Roller Derby is a monster, a glorious all consuming monster, that we all love, but that to some extent we all need to develop boundaries with. I know I’m not the only one thinking or feeling this right now. Life is bigger than that 1 hour game on the flat track, it’s bigger than passing your skills, it’s bigger than the hours we put in – and as ironic as it might sound, I’m grateful to covid-19 for this time.
I’m by no means retiring when we get the go ahead to return, but I will be reevaluating the impact such an intense training schedule had on me mentally, and the time we invest in the little things like promotion and social media – it seemed so big at the time, but now, it’s insignificant.
We’re still here, we’re just taking a communal break, we will be back, we will be together, but we will all be changed.