Tonight the 'Paign got together to enjoy some sushi and great company. I made some homemade caramels and white chocolate "blue stars" for everyone. I wanted to bring something homemade from the heart so my teammates and coach know how much they mean to me. It is always so much fun to get together outside of derby because we truly like each other. On the drive home I was thinking about how tight this team and league are and why that is. This is what I came up with:
Playing roller derby is like being part of a cult. At first, it seems innocent enough. I will get in shape! I'll meet new and interesting people! I will wear funny socks! And once roller derby has her little tenterhooks in you, that's when she starts to reel you in. Your family sees you less and less, unless you are trying to sell tickets for an upcoming bout. You work out to get stronger. Your sock drawer will no longer close. For me, roller derby is a way to just be my own person out in the world with an awesome group of women. It's athletic and a fun way to get exercise and move my body. I love that roller derby girls are tough as nails. After all, the game we play involves dashing around an oval track on roller skates, intentionally colliding into opponents and oftentimes sending them careening off the track. Bruises and other injuries are common. Roller derby can certainly be about testing one's stamina, patience, balance, strength, fortitude and overall athletic ability, but it is about so much more, from creating a common bond with others to discovering things about one's self, as well as being involved with the community.
You know your attachment to roller derby has reached the level of "love" when you've given up all forms of normal life: you no longer watch prime-time television, hell, you dumped cable because you don't have time to watch t.v. anymore. You haven't been out with your significant other in months (unless they are also involved in derby) because date night usually occurs on Friday or Saturday night, and you have derby - every weekend. A small corner of your house (or car) smells like a decomposing body, because that's where you air out your gear. You find yourself frequenting bars advertising drink specials because you need your cash to buy new knee pads. And it's why your Facebook friend requests are multiplying faster than a communicable disease.
There is an instant kinship among derby folks. That's not to say all of us are lovey-dovey with each other (although I do love you all), or even that we all get along all the time. There is certainly some "trash-talking" between teams and individual skaters but nothing serious. There is a camaraderie among the derby world, even when we are each others opponents. I suppose derby is unique in this aspect, and much of it stems from the fact that the roller derby resurgence began just as much, or more, as a cultural scene as an athletic one.
And we offer up this support system because we all recognize how unique the roller derby experience is. This is an exclusive club: not one of those douchey clubs where the people inside are wearing sunglasses, talking crap on everyone who walks in that they don't know and only drink imported beer. This club is exclusive because there is a true obsession reverberating through us all: WE LOVE ROLLER DERBY!
I (HEART) THE 'PAIGN