April 27th 2014. York Minxters Vs Sheffield Crucibelles, closed scrim.
This would be one of our first closed scrims as a team, and against a more experienced side. I was really looking forward to it as I felt I had prepared myself for both jamming and blocking in the game, and was determined to pace myself.
Game day came, I had my shiny purple hotpants and my war paint on, and I was buzzing to play some Derby. The first half went in a blur; I managed to get lead Jammer a few times, and I felt that I was also playing well tactically. The Minxters were not winning, but that didn’t matter; I was having fun.
Then came the second half. I was surprised that I was not more tired as usually Jamming takes it out of me – the fact that you have to not only fight past the opposition blockers but then speed around the track as fast as you can to then try to fight past them again.
A few jams into the second half, I had just got Lead Jammer and was trying to make my scoring pass when it happened. I put my foot down on an angle, received a very nice hit from two of the Crucibelles at the same time, twisted, and fell, accompanied by a snapping noise in my lower left leg. I then screamed the loudest scream I have ever produced in my life as I realised that something was not quite right.
Roller skating, like any sport or activity, can result in you injuring yourself. Derby girls revel in showing one another the bruises that they endure for the love of the sport, whether they’re the result of a particularly good hit from your team mate or opponent, or by your own misstep sending you down on your arse. We love it, and wear these wounds with pride because it is all part of the game.
I have heard it said with Derby, it’s not if you get injured, it’s when. I can totally understand this. Roller skating alone is a very demanding activity; yes, we have pads and helmets, but you have to learn how to skate well before attempting to take or receive hits in derby. Some people push themselves too hard and get hurt, often because they’re just not ready yet to go to that level. Other people are just plain unlucky. I would put myself in the latter category.
I have no regrets about the day I broke my leg, and still want to return to skating, eventually competing again. I know now that I have a long way to go before I can reach the level was at before I broke. I believe that, as with most things in life, a bit of hard work and determination will see me overcome that struggle and eventually reach my goal. It may take weeks, months or even a year, but I love skating, I love the Minxters, and most of all I love the feeling of being involved in an awesome, inclusive sport that is still in its infancy.
Life has been a bit up and down over the past 8 weeks since I broke my leg. After a few days in hospital I was allowed to leave, with a nice new metal plate in my leg and a large plastercast. At first I wanted to get straight back into Derby life; I volunteered to join the training team, kept up to date with the team and made it to a few practices. However, it very quickly became evident that I would have to ease off. Standing around in sweaty sports halls for hours at a time would only slow down the healing, not to mention make my leg swell in the cast and my toes turn blue.
But I was determined to still be part of it. A Derby friend added me to a Facebook group for injured skaters. I cannot thank her enough. Talking to other people with the same passion for the sport, and in a similar situation to myself, has been a great help in my own recovery. Learning what to expect when the cast came off, talking about physio, thinking about timescales about walking again in a realistic way, has been in turn enlightening, frustrating and fun.
So, I am on week 8 now; the cast has been off for just over a week and I am walking (in a fashion). I am feeling more positive about things as I can now leave the house more. I went to a practice this week, the first in over 6 weeks, and cannot believe the amount my teammates have improved. They were doing some new drills that I am just aching to try out, and we even have a new ref. I was a little sad at times when they were doing some of my favourite drills (I just love positional blocking – chasing the jammer down and then plonking myself in front of her to slow her right down) and I had to sit down for the second half as my leg was aching.
I am going to try to get to more practices from now on, just being with the Minxters – hearing their laughter, receiving their sweaty hugs and shouting encouragement – is something that I didn’t know that I have been missing until I went back this week. Watch out Minxters – Blunder Bussey is on her way back!
Photos courtesy of MDP Images.