Coming back from being broken: Derby 2.0

I really love skating. Swerving around on the track or at the rink leaves me smiling in a way few things ever have. Because of this I made the decision to put my skates back on after an almost two-year hiatus and head over to my local league for a second run at Fresh Meat this year.


I broke my fibula (leg) and damaged my knee during my first fresh meat try in August 2012. As a girl with an unusually high pain threshold I made the decision to catch the subway home and walk on it for the rest of the day before seeking medical assistance.


Note to all skaters: If it hurts please get help, better to find out its nothing than to do further damage by ignoring an injury.


After seeing the doctor I discovered the magic of life on crutches with a full leg brace, the reality that the ligaments around my knee were badly damaged. The surgeon offered me two options; have surgery and attempt repair or wait a few years and see what happened. I chose to wait and see. My reality is that at any point the ligaments could snap and I could be back on crutches and heading for the operating room. However, by the time he gave me the options I had been trapped on crutches for more than four weeks and couldn’t imagine going through it all again when they could schedule a surgery in a few months time.


I was sent to physiotherapy for a few more months and after six had been given an all clear to put skates back on. The trouble was, I couldn’t. I couldn’t even look at them and contemplate the devices of destruction being a part of my life again. They had hurt me and I'd paid the price. I'd gained weight, lost touch with the friends I had started to make skating and went back to life, as it was before derby: chubbier and more nervous about doing anything physical.


Fast forward to 2014

Having recently moved across the planet I had seriously contemplated selling my skates to save on space, but couldn’t bring myself to part with them. I decided that maybe I might try out a skate along the waterfront at some point and it would be a waste to get rid of skates that fit and were already broken in.


Once I arrived in Auckland I started to think about returning to derby again. I spent a bit of time searching and discovered that Auckland NZ has TWO derby leagues, one of which was WFTDA accredited. After doing the research I selected the Pirate City Rollers and discovered that they had just started a new Fresh Meat intake the week before.


Putting on my skates

I got to the arena and quietly shuffled over to where the girls were putting skates on. After pulling everything out of my bag in what felt like slow motion I managed to find the guts to get my pads on. It felt like my skates had grown in size as I sat there staring at them. They had grown to the size of the entire gym and I was sure that the second I put them on I was going to discover myself broken all over again.


After what felt like a decade I slid my foot in and started lacing.

They fit! They felt familiar! “Ok…. Now stand!” I told myself in my head. It was going to be fine.


Deep breath in, and PUSH

That’s all it took and I was skating. Gliding across the floor like the fairy elephant I knew myself to be. Just like that I was a Freshie again and more determined than before to become a strong, safe skater.


Recovering from injury: Three steps back to the track

It’s hard to stop being yourself. Stop running to grab the mail, popping out to grab a coffee with a friend, but injuries teach us to slow down. My experience taught me some lessons that I thought I would share to get you back on the track.

  1.  Don’t rush back to your sport, but don’t abandon it either: The derby community could have used me even when I was broken. I could have NSO’d or helped with fundraising, but I didn’t know those options existed.
  2. Do the work: whatever your practitioners tell you to do, DO. Do the exercises, take the rest days, pay attention to your body and let yourself heal.
  3. Don’t be afraid to re-learn: When I broke my leg I was just at the tipping point of becoming solid on my skates and after my hiatus I had to re-learn pretty much everything. While re-learning felt like a set back at first it reminded me that sometimes you need to study a lesson in different ways for it to sink in.

About The Author

DOB: 11/1/1977

Skate. Sleep. Eat. Repeat.

Swerving around on the track or at the rink leaves me smiling in a way few things ever have. Because of this I made the decision to put my skates back on after an almost two-year hiatus and started skating in Auckland New Zealand with the Pirate City Rollers.


Share what you think

Add comment

Please Login or Register To Add A Comment