Most of us already doing the derby heard this saying multiple times when we first became interested in the sport and the person recruiting responded to our questions with “You’ll love this sport, it saved my soul!”
But, what does that mean?
Well, it means a lot of different things to each individual player. For me personally, I use it as my form of physical therapy. I had a major surgery 2 years ago that required some of my cervical spine pieces to be removed along with a craniectomy. Yes: you read that correctly. No: this was not an injury related to playing the sport.
I worked hard to get my legs to reconnect communication to my brain, I held my utensils like Beast from Beauty and the Beast, and I had to use a walker for some time until I could regain my balance on my own.
I had been skating for 1.5 years at that point and thought to myself “I will never be able to compete again”. My current league was not as supportive as I had hoped because I was still very shy and didn’t know how to ask for help. I fell down into a dark place of anger and depression and I couldn’t even skate anymore to escape these major life changes. Fast forward a few months to when I decided to make the move to San Diego. I felt maybe a change in scenery is all I needed, my then boyfriend (now fiance) had a great job offer here and I thought it was worth a try. But I was still in a dark place without knowing anyone here; I have no family here and I had left them all behind. So I got to thinking: if I could relearn to walk, I could try to relearn to skate! So the very next day I started looking up local leagues.
SAN DIEGO ROLLER DERBY popped up a few times, so I decided it was time to get back on 8 wheels. I worked for 8 months on my own before finally deciding to come down to the skate rink and start getting involved. Shy little me started to make a few friends, I started forgetting the darkness existed. I started to feel like myself again. My back started to become stronger, I enjoyed getting my butt kicked from the exercise, and at this moment I realized “Why didn’t I come here sooner?”
I went from losing basic abilities and not being confident I my own footsteps to being an overall improved person with much more learning to go. I no longer feel like a failure because I missed my mouth with a spoon and I left a mess of mashed potatoes on my cheek. I no longer feel that anxiety of “am I going to fall off the escalator in front of everyone because my brain can’t process moving stairways anymore?” BECAUSE OF ROLLER DERBY, I NOW KNOW I’VE HAD THIS STRENGTH IN ME TO FIGHT BACK AGAINST MY OWN BODY THIS ENTIRE TIME…..I just had to get pushed a little bit into figuring out my true self from my derby sisters. Derby sisters that continued to push me when I was giving up on myself, that continue to push me into working hard, that continue to push me completely outside of my comfort zone because my individual story is only a piece of the puzzle that helps create a team and a league.
Roller derby saved my soul from self doubt, it saved my soul from grief and loss of my old life, and it has helped create a new version of myself that I’m much happier with.
My name is Zombie Bait, I am a brain surgery survivor and Roller Derby Saved My Soul and helped me get my life back.
What will your story be?
(You can find out by joining our league! Contact us either here or on Facebook for details)