Derby, Dedication, and Me: The Quitter by Swift Jesstice
In a life not so many years ago, I was a quitter. I did relatively well in school. I took easy classes and did only what I had to in order to graduate and get into community college. They let ANYONE into community college. Because of this, I filled my time with the things I wanted to do instead of the things I should’ve been doing. The things I should’ve been doing were much harder.
I was the type of person who took the easy way out. Throughout my life I had always given up as soon as things had gotten any harder than I thought that I could handle. Every time I took the proverbial path of least resistance.
A few years ago, that all changed. Among other things, I moved to Virginia from the Midwest, took on the role of single mom, and got my first real job. I have done nothing harder than being a single mom to my little boy. It instilled in me the confidence that I needed. If I could do THAT, I could do anything.
Swift and her son at a bout.
In the fall of 2012 my sister was visiting from South Carolina. We were bored, it was Saturday, and my mom was willing to watch our kids. We googled “what to do in Charlottesville this weekend.” It turns out fate was watching me that day. We saw that there was a roller derby bout in town. Neither one of us had ever really been exposed to derby, but it was something to do and looked like it could be fun. Plus they served beer, and we didn’t have our kids.
I fell in love. The Dames looked amazing, the crowd was excited, and these ladies were giving it their all on the track. They weren’t quitters. I wanted to do it too.
I started working out−just at home, with a Hip Hop Abs video, jumping around at 5:15 in the morning and sounding like I was going to hyperventilate at any moment. My son was 6 months old when I saw the Dames the first time, and I was in no shape to be participating in any activity that had your heart rate up for hours at a time.
I went to Fresh Meat open recruitment in February of 2013. One of the reasons I am writing this is because I’m reflecting on the last year. I passed Fresh Meat after a couple of tries and became a level 1. MONTHS later, and after 2 more tries, I became a level 2. I am now part of the Belmont Bruisers.
I am on a team!
Okay, I’m going to level with you. I am on a team, but I am by far (very, very far) not the best one. Not even close to the best one.
I am not graceful or coordinated. I have never been an athlete. I’ve never been on any kind of workout regiment or gone to the gym. I fall down A LOT, and I’m not always where I should be.
I get frustrated. I get discouraged. I want to quit.
But I don’t.
I get back up and brush it off (literally, the floor is dirty. I know, because I have spent some time there). I go to practice. Even on days where I can think of a thousand excuses why I shouldn’t go to practice; I go. None of the excuses are good ones. There all cop outs for why I’m not good enough or I should give in.
So I get back up and keep trying. I try hard. I give it everything I have. The most amazing thing has happened since I took on this attitude. I have a sense of accomplishment, not because I’m good, but because I’m getting better. I’m getting better because I’m showing up. Sometimes in derby, such as in life, the hardest part is showing up and falling on your face. I have done that. But when you get up, dust yourself off and keep going, you feel empowered.
I am by far my hardest critic. If it wasn’t for the amazing support and not-so-subtle shove I get from my teammates, I don’t know if I would have already stopped showing up. I know everyone wants to win in life, but in a Derby family everyone wants YOU to win and vice-versa.
I want this. I’ll keep showing up and giving it my all, because I want this.
I AM NOT A QUITTER.
Photo by Dan ‘Jugglenaut’ Purdy