When my daughter was twelve years old, she came to me wanting to check out the local junior roller derby team. I was less than enthused. However, being the supportive, open-minded mom that I am, we went to check it out. In my mind, my princess was not going to be part of this full contact sport, we were just looking. It hadn’t occurred to me that she actually might like it, a lot. So you can imagine my surprise when my husband was on board right away and excited about this new adventure our family was beginning.
Change and the unknown are always scary, but I have to admit that I totally bought in the “stereo type” of who these roller derby people were. I’m not really sure what I thought about “these” people, but it was anything but positive. To my delight, I have found the roller derby community is one full of pleasant surprises and lots of opportunity for personal growth. For instance, many skaters are more than their alter ego. They participate in other sports like soccer, track and field, softball, volley ball and on and on. Many skaters are part of their school orchestra or band, they read music, play instruments and get good grades in school. Their parents are just as diverse, they are professionals, doctors, physical therapists, engineers, attorneys, labors, stay at home parents and everything in between.
The roller derby community, includes adults and children alike. What was so unexpected for me was what I have learned from this diverse group of people over the past two years. I have been challenged to take an introspective look at myself, which has been an experience that I will treasure always. It has enabled situations for great conversations among fellow derby families but more importantly my family. When you think about roller derby, I’m guessing you wouldn’t think about leadership, communication and personal growth. Most people generally think about the alter egos and on the track performance.
Roller derby is a full contact sport that requires lots of dedication and practice. It is no different from anything else in life. While I am not the one on skates, being part of this community has taught me that we are all human. We all want a place where we are accepted, loved and appreciated. Junior derby is no different, it is a platform where kids who want to carve out a little space for themselves can go. They get to unwind, have fun, challenge themselves physically and emotionally and develop relationships with skaters across the country. Perhaps we all need to take a deeper look into the roller derby community. We could learn that our differences are the very thing that bind us together and make life interesting.