Roller derby saved my soul.
It’s a mantra teams sell on T-shirts, and a bumper sticker on my car.
I’m reminded after last weekend, our final home bout for the season, exactly why that is.
Game days are my Sabbath.
The track is my church.
And my teammates are my family.
For the second year in a row, we capped off our home run with a Halloween invitational, soliciting players from six different leagues, picking our teams dodgeball style and mixing it up, pitting half of our own Sandusky Rollergirls against the other half, joined by skaters from leagues in Akron, Cleveland, Toledo and Marietta.
Our team names for this matchup — Killer Clowns against Dr. Frankenstein’s Monsters. Despite my team, the Clowns, leading most of the bout, we lost. In the last two jams of the game, the Monsters came out on top, with a final score of 141-146.
Begrudgingly, I’ll admit they earned that victory. Even more importantly, I think all 28 skaters had a blast, embracing everything roller derby is about. Putting on a show.
Playing hard. Winning … and losing. Getting back up every time you get knocked down. And laughing about it afterward.
The camaraderie between my teammates — and even with the visiting players — stems from practicing together for hours each week, and the countless meetings and brainstorming sessions spent organizing fundraisers and games, planning advertising, recruiting, scheduling, merchandise, training and troubleshooting. The list goes on.
When we hit the track, any politics or drama are set aside. And we come together to play the best we can, as a team.
Sometimes we’re successful. Sometimes we’re not. But we always hit the track hard the next week to learn from our mistakes and play better next time.
We have faith in each other, and every member of our league is important.
• The fresh meat player who’s unsure she can hack it but keeps showing up anyway, determined to master the game.
• The retired players who had to prioritize their families, their work or their health over roller derby, but who keep coming to home games to fill one of the dozens of volunteer positions needed to make each bout happen.
• The referees and other volunteers who travel from an hour away, just to help out for a few hours.
• Our sponsors, who contribute to help cover our expenses.
• The players who plan and run practices, and the ones who take care of the books and the paperwork.
Everyone matters. And everyone is valued.
That’s how we push on each week, and how next year will mark the start of our fourth season.
Like a small business, those first few years are critical to the survival of a new derby league.
There are bumps, bruises and sometimes black eyes along the way. But the victories are rewarding.
We’ve still got two away games this year, but this month, we’re recruiting a new fresh meat class to get ready for next year’s season.
As always, we’ll be looking for sponsors, volunteers and referees. We’ve already set dates for five home games.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org , or find us on Facebook for more information.
For me, being part of the Sandusky Rollergirls is about being part of something greater than myself.
It could be for you, too.