It was June 2010 when I watched my first roller derby match with a few friends, and found myself saying, "I could totally do that." Almost as if I was dared, I walked over to the merch booth, bought a sticker, and casually said, "Um, so, they said we could get information on how to join over here?" Castro (as I would later come to know her), smiled big and became so excited, that I couldn't help but feel the same way. To be honest, as I walked away from the booth, I wasn't quite sure that I would actually follow through. The start up costs aren't small, I hadn't been on skates since the roller blade craze of 1994, and making the decision to let people hurl themselves at you while on wheels is not a decision one should make lightly. But to be honest, I didn't feel like I had another choice.
I moved to Dallas in December of 2009 for a job. And while I had some awesome friends down there, its fair to say me and Dallas were never going to be BFFs. Don't get me wrong, there are some highlights -- Shiner (in all varieties), tacos, porch drinking, burritos, patio drinking, red dirt country music, drinking while floating the river -- but I knew it would never be home. And when I first moved, I found myself doubting the person I was at the time, wondering how I could change myself to better fit in. Derby changed that.
I have often said that playing derby made me a stronger woman. Over the past couple of weeks I've come to realize, that playing derby made me realize just how strong of a woman I already was. I fought through injury, self-doubt, haters, and even put my leadership skills to the test. I felt valued, and also felt as if I was giving value. I learned to love my body, and realized how powerful of a machine it can be when I get out of its way. I can rock a pair of booty shorts like no one's business. (Skating in circles for many hours will do that to
your ass you.) And when people find out you play derby, it's like instant cool points. Truly. Someone could have totally thought you were worthless five minutes before, and then you mention knocking chicks to the ground, and they're all like "Ermahgerd, you're mah hero!"
I love the sport of roller derby, I really do. But if I've learned anything during the past 2 1/2 years, it's that it is okay to go against the grain and do things that surprise people. Moving back to Seattle has been amazing. It is so nice to be closer to family, back in a city that I love, and to be excited about all the new things I can go, do, and see. I slowly realized that to take full advantage of these things, derby needed to go. (Folks, talk to your local derby girls, it takes so much work/dedication/time to make these leagues run. It's truly awe inspiring.) I don't think Annie Smash is gone forever. (I don't know that my sanity would stay around without the opportunity to hit folks once in awhile.) Maybe she'll come back in a year, or three years. Maybe she'll come back wearing zebra stripes. But I do know this, I am still a cool person (my original title for this post was going to be "15 reasons I am still cool even if I don't play roller derby"), I will still rock the glitter booty shorts whenever possible (Ya'll, it's just so much more comfortable than real pants!), and I will be eternally grateful for the experiences, friendship, and love this sport has given me.