A Cure for the Derby Blues

Photo by Kit Ruff, ShutHerUp Photography

When derby becomes a little too competitive and stressful, there is always one thing that will get me through: More derby! What do I mean? Well, the glory of roller derby is that there is always something else going on in the derby community where you can find yourself involved. A couple of those things are invitationals and pick-up teams. There are teams like Motley Brew and the Hurticanes that ask skaters to come and bout against other teams or other pick-up teams.

Having the option to skate with other girls from other teams in a non-formal and less competitive space helps me to refocus and remember why I love derby so much. It’s so easy to get caught up in rosters and rankings and forget the real reason we joined derby.

We joined because it’s fun.

We joined because it makes us part of something big.

We joined to gain a larger family and support system.

With the right perspective, the derby world becomes even larger than just our own teams, and we become close friends with other girls from other teams and so on.

But at some point in the season, it often becomes overwhelming. The pressure mounds to do better, to work out harder, to move up the roster, and to help your team win more bouts to move up the rankings and make it to Division 1 play-offs. The one thing that brings us the most joy and pleasure often can bring with it a large amount of stress. For me, the stress begins to overwhelm me, and I lose sight of why I love derby.

Then, the inevitable happens, and I begin to experience some burnout.

But the one thing I can depend on to bring me out of my own head is getting a message on Facebook or a text from a friend asking me to come play with their pick-up team. There is something so gratifying and exhilarating about putting my gear on, strapping on the skates, and taking the track without one worry.

With the relief of no-pressure bouts.

Playing derby, just to simply play.

There are other amazing things that happen at these bouts. I play with new teammates from other teams. I have different coaches with different coaching styles. I learn to adapt to different skaters, to different levels of skaters, and different ways of playing the game. I can often pick up new skills that help to make me a better player for my own team. I’m so relieved that I have this outlet, especially because there have been times I have seriously contemplated retiring from the stress.

Playing with different skaters helps me realize that I love playing with my own team. I also often realize during these bouts that my own teammates and I are often telepathic. We have played together so often and so long that we can often read our teammates’ moves and style. I appreciate what both formal and non-formal bouts can do for me.

But, at the end of a pick-up game, I always remember why I started playing this game and why I will continue to play it.

Derby is fun. I am here for Blue Ridge. I am here because of the team. Not just for myself but because these girls depend on me and I depend on them.

– Coma N. Ducer