A few words on the friendship and support I have found in derby.
I recently went to a roller derby event in an area I’d never been before, I’ve never NSO’d and away game before but this was Sur5al! I was there to NSO and walking in you feel like the new kid in school - what if they do things differently here? I needn't have worried, its like going to a strange family reunion, where everybody knows your name.
But thats what I’ve discovered roller derby is, a slightly strange place where everyone can fit in. I’ve spoken about how I got into derby, and we all have very different journeys here. But once you get here, you’re kinda in for life.
How many times, years did we waste stressing over not fitting in, not dressing or looking right? Worried about not being on trend, and putting up with pretending to be something we’re not just to fit in with people we really, secretly didn’t like? I can put my hand up an say for YEARS I felt like that. As a teenager, one that didn’t fit in to any group really (I liked all the music, yet dressed like a grunger) and then later as an adult I still felt the same. I look back now and shake my head and wonder why on earth I wanted to impress those former friends. And it’s not because I was an idiot (yes I was) but because I hadn’t found something I truly loved yet.
But with derby I finally have something I truly love, I know longer feel I need to be a total special case. I have found ‘my people’, my hyper active, dry sense of humor, stinky, party people. I love this mental family, but I’m aware that my other friends will pull that face when I start talking about wheels or the skates I want.
During the last three years in my derby life I have met some awesome people and know that wherever I go in the world I’m going to find someone who knows exactly what I’m babbling about or I can grab a beer with. In June I’m heading out to Michigan to work at a Summer Camp - I’ve already been introduced via Facebook to a girl who I can skate with while there. The first thing I do when going away is look up what teams could be playing in the area, I’m not worried about dropping an email over, hanging out with another team and adding to my derby t-shirt collection.
If you wear derby merch and someone recognizes the logo/theme all of a sudden you become best friends. For example, last year I went to Vegas for a few weeks, I wore my team jacket to a bar and within 5mins I was swapping Facebook details with a Sin City Roller Girl and doing shots like we’d know each other for years. I have been out with friends who have introduced me to someone else they know, turns out they play derby. BOOM instant friend.
In my home team/league I have friends that I can’t think of not having in my life, I speak to most of them every day and they are a support system. At training when I can’t breathe with my asthma lungs they tell me when to stop (when I go blue) and when I have food issues or go back to insecurities I can talk to them. Yes there are moments where everyone seems to go crazy and implode... But I love this sport and can’t thank it and the people I’ve met enough for helping create Sasha Grazed and helping me grow as a person. While I still have my hang ups and can be shy, I’m slowly becoming more... Me. I’m right where I should be and can’t wait to see where this leads.