Christina Sparkle

Is there life after roller derby?

In my life I am a very decisive person. I have an opinion about everything. I know my mind when it comes to hot topics and pressing issues, I can make a decision in an instant and stick to it. That is, until it comes to roller derby.

I injured my knee over a year ago and it took a long time for me to recover. Physically not so long, but mentally it took about four or five months which is an age in roller derby. Four or five months in roller derby is three or more bouts, two roster selections, multiple team selections, umpteen fitness tests and hundreds of skills training drills missed.

Even when I came back to skating after those months I couldn’t face the idea of bouting again. The team had changed so much, the expectations of A-team players was much higher and I really didn’t have the desire or confidence in myself to meet those expectations. I didn’t want to do extra fitness hours, I didn’t want to “push myself” into skating harder, I even struggled in tactics sessions which, previously, had been my strength.

Of course some of my league mates noticed and were very supportive, trying to make sessions more fun and encouraging which I am SO grateful for. I even attended and contributed enough to make it back onto the B team roster a few months ago but with no bouts booked in I had nothing to work towards and playing against the A team each week in scrimmage just didn’t inspire me at all. I began picking and choosing which sessions to attend depending on who was coaching, what would be coached and who we would have to scrim against.

I would avoid any sessions which involved fitness, any scrims against the A team. But then mixed scrims were always nightmarish when I happened to be picked last every time. Of course none of this I blame on anyone else, I don’t feel bullied or left out on purpose. My heart was not in it and that reflected in my every interaction.

And yet, I stayed around. What for? The nostalgia of Vi O’Lence as she was? Not really. Out of habit? Possibly. Out of duty for the league that I had helped to build and mould? Definitely. Still now, I feel that duty.

Conveniently the month around our wedding gave me a break from feeling that I needed to attend roller derby. I was working extra hours to pay for the big day, then there was all the hours in the weeks before to get everything ready, followed by honeymoon and two or more weeks to catch up on work after I came back.

Through all that I’ve managed to keep in touch with everyone through attending most things outside of training; bouts, fundraisers, socials, and even league meetings. If ever I was worried that I would lose touch people if I didn’t attend training then that is now out of my mind. Roller girls may be busy but they’re not too busy for the people and things that they value – just like us all.

Last week I planned to get back to training but I finally realised that I would rather be doing my own thing. I love to watch roller derby, I love to be involved in such a female-focused movement and I love all the dollies so much but I am just not cut out for everything that comes with actually skating within a league. So many times I have attended practice just to see my friends, I don’t even want to put my skates on, I don’t really want to do the drills and I definitely don’t want to be told to try harder or focus on this or that to do it better.

I don’t want to be better at skating, I don’t want to be better at roller derby. I feel I have given enough; enough time, enough effort and definitely enough tears. It has taken me so long to come to this realisation, to understand my own feelings, far far longer that I am used to.

So a few weeks on from this realisation, I can tell you one thing, there is life after roller derby. Unfortunately it doesn’t involve having a cleaner house, that factor stays the same with or without derby, hah!

What this means from now on I don’t know. I would like to continue on helping out based on the three years of experience that I have. I have been helping the Raggy Dollz with some bench managing in last couple of weeks which was ace and made me feel really appreciated. I’d also like to do some thing with the list of league/bout production resources that I have been adding to, perhaps publish some of my ideas and tips here. One thing that definitely does motivate me is the idea that I am contributing to the growth of roller derby as a sport, especially within the UK.

Outside of roller derby I will be focusing on things that I do want to improve on, namely my design skills. I have signed up to Your Darling Blog design course in the hope that it will help to bring more creativity to my designs and more confidence in myself and my personal design style. This blog will be the one I use as an example throughout the course so you can hopefully expect a new look around Christmas time. Exciting!

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