(Originally published on I Still Hate Pickles on September 15, 2012.)
I bought my last pair of tights. (On clearance for $2.40, of course. With a gift card.) I’ve packed my new championship bout jersey in my bag and washed my pads. I went to our last team dinner, where we ate carbs, weird vegan food, and watched Dodgeball for inspiration. (The Bosses will make you bleed your own blood tomorrow, Valkyries!)
But am I really ready to retire? For REAL?
As bittersweet as it is, a derby career when you have little ones at home is, at best, limited. The past two seasons in a row I have skated with the Bosses and the Knockouts: three practices a week, 8-9 home games and 4-5 away games per season. Before these two seasons, I skated, had a baby, called lineups, skated, had a baby, and called lineups. I’ve tried out three times, made it all three. I’ve left the league twice because of pregnancy. My first tryouts were in August, 2007–five years ago last month.
I feel worn thin from all the practices, the driving, the drama. I feel a great loss when I think of having all my free time back, of not being able to hit my friends every week. (That’s right–I said HIT.) I feel more at home on skates than not, and hate the thought of my gear sitting in the back of a closet somewhere. And yet…it’s time. My family needs me home.
So on this night before my last bout, I pondered my derby life through photos. Want to join me for story time?
Once upon a time, I showed up for tryouts with Houston Roller Derby. Though I didn’t even have toe stops on my skates, the league took me on and I began to train. Clearly, I thought I was hot stuff.
I was much…tinier. And I wore a helmet too large and youth hockey pads with too little padding. But I was very happy to be on skates. (Despite the fact that they didn’t fit and made me bleed.) My first fresh meat group included such famous names (and friends) as Rebel Ann, Blindside, and Scarlet O’Hurtya.
To my utter shock, I discovered a month into derby that I was pregnant. Without being drafted to a team and feeling unsure of my place, I quit the league, planning to come back after baby. But I still had to skate in that stupid half marathon I signed up for.
And maybe did some fun street skating too. Er–bridge skating.
After what seemed like forever (41.5 weeks), I had a baby, instilled in him a love for derby, and when he was old enough to go two hours without nursing, I went back.
Tryouts, take two. This time around, I got drafted to the Bosses! I have to say, I look good in black. (And so do my kids.)
I had no idea how to block but I was fast, so a jammer I became. With blockers like Miss Lead, Becky Booty, Nawty, DBC, Rebel and Goldie Bloxx in your pack, ANYONE can jam.
I had a sock twin named BabyFace Assassin, who later moved to Austin and became part of the Championship-winning Hell Marys. (She still looks good in black.)
Sometimes I took naps on the track. Just kidding! But once I did get a mild concussion. And, oh–I found out two days later that I was also pregnant. Again. This time, mid-season. I got to help from the bench calling lineups while the Bosses took their second-in-a-row championship. I stuck around and planned to hop right back in for another season post-baby.
I even took team photos, balancing a shotgun on my baby bump. (Fourth from the right.)
I tried to pretend like I wasn’t feeling bloated–though these photos were two days before I had my second kid. (Also at 41.5 weeks.)
Then the unexpected twist: an unplanned C-section meant I couldn’t skate for the season. With an almost full roster and two other injured skaters already on the bench, I quit again, leaving room for the Bosses to get draft picks. I spent the season calling lineups and practicing with the team–just not hitting. I even got to assist our coach Chicken calling lineups for Travel Team. What!
(Chicken thinks that panty is stinky.)
And I also met this broad named Shawshank, whose actual name I’m not sure I know. We both had little kids and joked about how if someone hit me at practice before the sixth months of no-contact was up, my intestines might fall out. (This is what my doctor told me. He had a way with words.) We also somehow managed to look like a couple in every photo we took.
(We are not a couple. We might be something like the best of friends, though.)
I tried out AGAIN and was drafted AGAIN to the Bosses. I also tried out for the Knockouts, our second-tier travel team. I was really happy to have two boys, but also really happy to be skating. They approved.
I did some jamming this time around, but mostly found my footing as a blocker.
Finally! A good use for my butt!
It was good to be a Boss yet again–off the bench and ON the track.
But Rob and I had talked about expanding our family, and it was hard with two little guys and a busy derby schedule, so I planned to retire after a full season of skating. On the night of the championship game, however, I just didn’t feel DONE. I talked to Rob and my captains that week and took an LOA while I decided what to do.
What we decided: to have another derby season before another baby.
And what a season it’s been! I finally felt like the game slowed down enough for me to be playing the way I’d always wanted to play. Still room to grow (always!) but leaps and bounds from the season before.
Sometimes I even got to wear the smart girl hat! (That’s the pivot panty, dummy.)
And I won some awards–not just for being nice or having babies, but for my SKATING.
With only a few minor injuries that held me back, it was a pretty clean, good run. No fetus was hurt during the process! (And I skated without knowing they were in there, both times. Oops.)
So you see why I might be feeling a little nostalgic tonight. I plan to stick around and help with league things, but don’t think I can commit to skating a real season again until I’m like 50. I definitely am not joking that I intend to do that. That’s only 15 years away…
For now though, it’s a sad goodbye.
I fully intend to take a few people with me on the way out, though, so I’m DEFINITELY looking forward to the game tomorrow night. Sweep the leg, Kiki!