roller derby boot camp dropout

So y’all know that I love roller derby. And when my local league offered a 2-month boot camp to train new recruits, I signed up and then bought myself a second hand shiny white pair of quad skates. I was excited to finally live my fantasy of being a derby queen; I’d even picked out a name for myself (Buns N’ Roses, #108). Even though I haven’t worn roller skates since I was 12 years old, I figured I’d be able to pick it up again.

But oh, dudes, it’s way harder than I remembered. My skating attempts were a disaster. I spent most of the time on my butt, with everyone skating around me. It brought up awful memories of being the slowest, worst player in high school PE class. I also realized that I’m afraid of injury: bruises, sprains, broken bones are all potential roller derby hazards.

I just have to be honest with myself that I am not an athlete. I have lower back problems, weak ankles, and I hate pain. If there’s anything that I’ve learned from yoga, it’s how to listen to my body and respect my limitations. Last weekend, in Kelly McGonigal’s yoga class at Being Yoga, I received a very clear message from my body: “I am a princess, not a tomboy. Cover me in glitter, not bruises. I am not designed for speed and smashing. Dress me in lingerie and dance.”

And so, I am not going back to the boot camp. It’s hard to admit, but I think rather than struggling to learn how to roller skate, I can direct my energy into other things in my life: being a kickass yoga teacher, writing awesome short stories, knitting baby blankets, mastering the French language. Since roller derby speaks to this streak of aggression that I have, I’m thinking about taking boxing lessons.

Feeling like a roller derby dropout failure has given me reason to make lists of the things that I’m good at: practicing inverted yoga postures (maybe I can’t stand up on 8 little wheels, but I can stand on my hands for 3 minutes!), riding my bike through Montréal traffic, making wheat-free/dairy-free muffins, loving my cats, intuiting things. And blogging! In midst of my self-pity, I received notification that It’s All Yoga, Baby made a list of 100 top yoga and meditation blogs. Yay!

It looks like this is the closest I’ll come to being a roller derby star:

Photo by Susan Moss.

Photo by Susan Moss (

Yeah dudes, that’s me and my underwear on the flat track, doing a little victory dance at a Filles du Roi vs La Racaille bout in July 2008. This outlandish exhibitionist stunt won me a copy of the awesome book that the announcer guy is holding in his hand. So I guess I have it in me… as long as I can keep my two feet on the ground.

Update: For a dose of roller derby inspiration, you have to check out this video. “As a 53-year-old librarian by day and roller derby player by night, Beth Hollis smashes stereotypes and opponents on and off the track.” []

  1. A couple of months ago I went to the roller derby for the first time with my husband and totally had sparks of “I wannabe a roller girl!” …Until the second half when everyone started getting tired and cranky and really started to knock the crap out of each other! Then I realized I had better stick to yoga. 🙂 That’s awesome that you put some skates on and tried it out. Takes guts to do that much! And takes guts to admit it may not be your thing! So you can be all of those other things you listed and simply a roller derby fan! 🙂 Roller derby fans rule!

  2. yaay for listening to your body and your intuition! and hey, even just signing up for roller derby in the first place was something a lot of people (e.g., me) wouldn’t even consider! just makes a person appreciate roller derby even more, i think. tbh, i’m just as impressed by your 3-minute handstands whoa!

  3. le sigh, I hear you on the wanting to do sports… but not. It is, however, a sign of true grace that you honestly listened to your body. I love hockey, but would be a TERRIBLE player. I’m a much better “cheerer” for my friend and her team.

    Oh my, I TOTALLY am in awe that not only do you RIDE your bike in Montreal, but that you are GOOD at it!!!!! Just being a pedestrian in the Plateau was scary enough for me, the drivers (car) are CRAZY in montreal. You are SUPER brave and fantastic.
    Side note: I actually saw a bicyclist get stopped by the cops for “jay-riding” through a red light on a small side street between the Laurier Station exit and Papineau on St Joseph (right next to one of the churches). Seriously, the bicyclist must not have seen the cop car as she sailed right on by…. though the red light. They got a ticket and were not very happy. lol.

  4. Now wait a minute. Back in the early ’60’s when I was watching early roller derby in the SF Bay area, they had sharply banked corners so you so you could go really fast around the turns and smash your opponent over the railing and into the crowd. I don’t see that here!

    Anyway, can I suggest Akido–martial arts, but determinedly non-competitive, easier on the body. And congratulations on the blog award.

    This was a fun blog.

    Bob Weisenberg

  5. hilarious! if I was in roller derby I’d definitely be a jammer!

  6. You can do so many cool things! Roller derby, well, hey. Doing an inverted yoga pose for 3 minutes? Awesome! Making a hot 100 list? Awesome. Your short stories? Awesome!

  7. Awesome! I had a yoga student who is a Derby girl here, and we talked and I so, so wanted to go. I even took my kids and friends to the rink and did some yoga on skates… (I blogged about it, look it up, hilarious!) Then I hurt my knee and skating is pretty much out right now 🙁 My hubby even said..”You do NOT have it in you to be a Derby girl” to which I replied, “I will take Jen…” and he said “Now, SHE is a Derby girl”. UGH. Yes, I should stick to yoga (on hands and feet).

  8. did you say BOXING LESSONS???? i know someone who could help you with that… 🙂

  9. Linda: You would totally be a jammer! You have it in you!

    Bob: Well, things have changed in the past 40 years! All North American roller derby happens on flat tracks these days ~ not sure why, but I assume it has something to do with the fact that tracks can just be marked on community centre floors with duct tape. I’ve considered martial arts, but feel, for some reason, that I just need the pure aggression of boxing. Go figure.

    Kim: I’ll be in touch about lessons! Woot!

    Ecoyogini: Yeah, Montréal traffic is intense! I thought that if i could handle that I could handle anything.

    And everyone else: Thanks for the comments/support! Yay!

  10. Go for it! Look forward to the next report on roller derby or boxing!

  11. great video! I like that coach said that she’s “among the fittest players on the team” at 53 — YEAH! us old broads rock!

    now if I only knew how to skate!

  12. Hahahaha Linda!! I knew you’d appreciate that!

  13. lol! I’m not a tomboy either, as much as I had hoped to be. That will be a great picture to look back on when you’re an old lady.

  14. I’m sad you won’t be going back… I’m pretty new to derby, but I’ve already witnessed some truly impressive non-skater to superstar derby girl transformations. But I can respect that its not for everyone… and a 3 minute handstand is pretty darn impressive.

    The awesome group that goes with roller derby is what I’m really sad you are giving up… have you considered being a ref or NSO instead? Then you aren’t getting beat up, but you still get to be involved! WIN=WIN!

    And Mandy, don’t listen to the hubby! I had an ex tell me the SAME thing when I first started, and now I couldn’t imagine my life without it. The one great thing about derby is that its one of the few sports where women of all types, sizes, backgrounds, etc. are welcomed and equal. From 5’2 200lbs librarians to 5’10 130lbs models!

  15. All of it is super impressive. Three minute handstands? Wow. Making a top 100 list for your writing? Baking? Short stories? Bravery? Streak of crazy? How ferociously cool?!?!

    As for taking up boxing, I definitely recommend it. Kung fu is what brought me back to yoga in the first place. For me, it’s the perfect antidote when I just can’t seem to find the stillness, but want to reconnect with my body. Afterwards, even if that’s the next day, the yoga flows beautifully. The whole process works the other way around, too.

    So glad to have discovered your writing!

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