I have been playing roller derby for two years now. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration really. I have been attending practices, for nearly two years. I’m not on any teams and haven’t yet done a public bout. Now don’t go thinking this is a mopey article about taking too long to get onto the team etc etc. But actually a celebration of my slow and steady journey. I’m not going to lie, I have struggled with motivation from time to time, but in actual fact – not being the best and still going is something I pride myself on. Who knows if I’d still be doing roller derby today if I had just taken to it like a duck to water? I have never been the ‘sporty’ type. I love the idea of sport and I feel good when I do it, but I inevitably feel rubbish because I’m not very good at that sort of stuff and I don’t like letting down my team. Lone sports such as running or even going to the gym have never been of any interest to me. I’m a people person and originally, I didn’t really have the drive to actually push myself physically without the guilt trip thing of not wanting to let down the fellow team mates by not turning up (well it’s not a real guilt trip, it was just a way that I used to trick myself into feeling like a had to). The very nature of roller derby as an awesome supportive community and not just a sports team (I talk a little about it here) took care of that one. I was accepted with open arms and encouraged to return. Well that’s my first boundary but the way, but what next? I had never really gotten past that first hurdle. How do you keep motivated to keep doing it? The key for me to keeping going when you know that you’re not the best or even close to the best and may in fact be the worst, is about not comparing yourself to everyone else. I try to remember to compare me now to me two years ago. I am healthier, happier, and more able to do ‘stuff’ than ever. Every session I feel myself improve. I am fighting a battle against myself. I’m not talking about hating myself or anything, I don’t shout motivational slogans at myself in the bathroom mirror. But if I would normally say ‘no’ – then why? Is it just because it’s hard? If so, why not try saying ‘yes’? You might surprise yourself. I don’t always win in the little debates in my head, but the Harlots are always there to back me up and get me back in the game. The biggest challenge came when I broke and dislocated my leg at the end of February last year. It would have been so easy to give up and for a little while I nearly did. But even then, I had visits from the Harlots; Finn Furious came to see me almost immediately and chatted to me about coping as she had an almost identical break. My derby wife Pam Boozle brought me vanilla lattes when I got a craving for them and Ella Snow Fury visited me weekly, cooking lunch or taking me out the house so I saw the sky occasionally. I even had skaters from other leagues contacting me to lend their emotional support – especially form people who had been there before. Knowing my derby family was there for me just gave me more motivation to get back to it as soon as possible. I absolutely knew that I had to get back on skates the moment I could otherwise I never would. I was terrified sitting there with my skates on but Wound A Woman finally told me to get up and skate – needed that push. I had built up images in my head that I would fall straight on my arse the moment I pushed off, but to my amazement I hadn’t forgotten absolutely everything. I still knew how to skate. So it goes to show that just getting on with it works. To start with, it felt like had to take two steps back to take one step forward. My leg hurt, I couldn’t do things I had previously found easy and my fitness and stamina I had worked so hard for was shot. Everyone told me it would come back quicker than I imagined. It was tough to push through those first few sessions, but they were right. I kept reminding myself who else had done it and how much I’d missed skating. I repeated it like a mantra to myself until I had no choice but to get back on skates. All that hard work the first time round wasn’t wasted. I’m still not quite where I was before the break but I’m actually playing roller derby and feeling like I make a difference occasionally in the pack. I am getting better every practice and even though my attendance is a bit patchy due to the pain, I know that it won’t be too long until I get to play in a bout. Even if it takes longer than most I will keep going. Two years ago I would have let a broken leg put me out of action for long time but I was back on skates after four and half months – only two weeks slower than Finn Furious (she was kinda my idol during this time, realising how hard it must have been for her).
It’s when you stop and really think about how far you’ve come that you realise how it doesn’t really matter how much further you’ve got to go.
By Kay Blammity