My Derby Story: Dawn Cherry

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. I think that the mother of discovery is…boredom. I would describe myself as an active person and someone who’s done a lot of different sports in her lifetime. That’s because I am a serial monosportist. I fall in love with something (“Oh my god Taebo is amazing!”) thinking, “This is the sport that I’m going to love and do until the end of time.”  What actually happens is I lose interest once I get reasonably good at it and start feeling like a bad person for not seeing it through (yes thank you Wii fit, I’m quite aware that it’s been 381 days since I last signed in).

My derby story starts much in the same way. I had just quit softball because—ironically—I was getting too many bruises and black eyes. So I was looking for something new. I really like team sports, for the social aspect as well as the individual skill development. The problem I have is that I’m intimidated by sports that adults play that they’ve been playing their whole lives like soccer or hockey. The timing could not have been more perfect when I saw my first derby game at the Ottawa Ex and was instantly enamoured. The deal was sealed when I saw on the website that they were accepting fresh meat and no experience was required. A level playing field and something challenging enough to keep me coming back for more. AMAZING!

Skating has never been my strength.  I was a bumble bee in a production of Alice in Wonderland on ice when I was little and the only thing I remember from that experience was getting my sparkly antennae head band knocked off during our routine and seeing 10 other 6-year olds skate over it until it was a pile of glitter. Needless to say, I was scarred and never quite took to skating after that but I would admit that I was  proficient enough to qualify me as an acceptable Canadian. Learning the skate skills required for derby took me a while but once I had muscles in places that normal human beings don’t, things just clicked. What’s even cooler is that my endless repertoire of sport skills have in some way helped me be a better derby player. All my water sports (sailing, canoeing, rowing) gave me my amazing balance and it takes a lot to knock me down. Swimming gave me the strong arms it takes me to pop right back up when someone does manage to knock me over. I haven’t quite figured out what ice climbing and golf have contributed but I’m excited to find out.

What I find interesting to think about isn’t so much why I joined derby, but why I stayed with it. Derby has tested me at times, through league splits and injuries, but my interest in the sport has continued to grow. I think there are two reasons for me.  For one, the sport is evolving as fast as its members are so there is so much room to grow with it. There’s no room for boredom because there’s so much opportunity to improve, so many skills to master, so many strategies to dream up. Secondly, derby needs me as much as I need it. This sport and the wonderful organization that we’ve built to play it are exactly what we make of it: it’s ALL volunteer run. We don’t have a governing body that recruits players, makes our teams, schedules games, trains our referees…we do that, and we do it because it’s worth every minute. I can play an amazing game, go home and feel pretty proud of myself and that’s awesome. What’s even more fulfilling though is knowing that I had something to do with 60 other people getting that same chance.

So, I’m 4 years in and there’s no sign of boredom here!


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