This entry in The Rollergirl Project is a small glimpse into the life of a derby girl. This entry is by Breckin U. Down who skates with the Cornfed Derby Dames of Muncie, IN. More pictures of her can be found at Cory's websiteThe Cornfed Derby Dames were founded in the Spring of 2010. The leagues first charity event was on June 5th. We volunteered at a concert to raise money for a little guy named Jack’s family to help with his medical bills. We were new and had not figured out safety gear should always be required. Well, leave it to me to change all that. I fell at the end of the night and tried to catch myself. Sadly, I hate to admit I was sober. The end result was a plate & 6 screws in my right wrist. The team had just gotten access to practice space and was to start the very next week.
I spent the next 8 weeks watching everyone learn to stop and fall while I happily, and sometimes against my chauffeur/husbands wishes, came to as many practices as possible. I held a stop watch, whistle or just their papers with planned drills and generally helped the practice committee in any way I could. We even brought in silly exercise videos like Sweating to the Oldies for the girls that didn’t have full gear yet to do off skates training in a different area. I did what I could in silly Richard Simmons style. When I am finally able to skate, I am way behind on all the basics and immediately intimidated by the cement floor. With lots of hard work and tons of help from the other Dames, I managed to eek my way on every roster for our first season. I was even voted most improved blocker by my team.
In season 2, we get a coach. It is just what we needed. Somehow our hardest practice the first year is a breeze compared to what he had in store for us. We bust our asses for 3 months in preparation for our first home bout. I am so happy to have made the roster and get to skate against Naptown's Third Alarm again. The bout was Sunday April 15th and I broke my right fibula at practice on Monday the 9th.
As I was looking at another 6-8 weeks off skates and at probably 10 before I would be able to do any contact, I was horrified. All that hard work down the drain! I had nightmares about my leg not healing correctly or it hurting to even skate. Ridiculous ones where my leg was so skinny my knee pad wouldn’t stay up and Coach was yelling because I wasn’t on the floor for practice in time. Obviously, this time, my head was going to play tricks on me and not make this easy. I had to remind myself to stay active with the league and not just my board duties but actually come to practice more than I was required as an injured skater. While there I tried to focus on encouraging the new girls that had only been with us a few months.
This injury was way harder for me to be positive through. Watching all the girls get so much better and the new girls thrive, I started to worry about even being able to make a roster when I was healed. At 14 weeks post break I played in my first bout back. It was a handful of vets and all of our first year skaters against a newer team. It was 3 of the girls first bout and a couple had only played a few jams in one other. We were down by 30 and came back within one point with 3 mins left on the clock. In the end we lost by 9 points but had an experience to remember with our rookies. Unfortunately one of our own was taken to the ER for a broken tibia/fibula. Obviously the loss is nothing compared to JenAroll getting injured.
- All of this made me think of tips for my broken Dame and any fellow derbs out there having a rough go at it.
Having an amazingly supportive family/derby wife/team helps tremendously.
- Netflix is a life saver when you are couch bound for long period of time. I strongly suggest Mad Men. Mr Draper and Mr Sterling are easy on the eyes and you can focus on what’s going to happen next rather than on your current situation.
- Stay as active as you are physically possible (and allowed per doctors orders). If you are able to walk, do a lap around the yard. Sitting still just helps breed the depression of not being able to do what you love.
- Go to practice once you are that mobile. See your ladies. They miss you too. They are just busy with practice and life. (we all know how much spare time derby girls have) If you haven’t heard from many don’t assume you aren’t missed.
- Ask to help. Jam time/penalty time on scrimmage nights. Blow the whistle for drills. Whatever they need.
- If you have fresh meat- set up a chair near them and give tips. You don’t have to be the best skater to be encouraging or maybe explain something that they aren’t quite getting. Even if its little things like giving them one thing to focus on during scrimmage so they feel a bit less lost. I remember the chaos and having no idea what I should be doing. Remember that one person who blew your mind with a simple tip that made it all make a bit more sense. Now is your time to be that person. Remind them that all of us were there once.
- Listen to the coaches. All that strategy they are going over and working on, you can learn and memorize so you aren’t behind in that aspect when you are able to return.
- Try not to be jaded or rude to any of your teammates. I know you want to skate and can’t but it’s not their fault. And if they are talking to you about their issues they don’t mean to rub in that they can. They are just chatting with their friend and derby sister about what they are dealing with.
To my lovely Dames: I know I bit off heads and made snarky comments at times. I suck and I am sorry.
- Go to the bouts, make signs and be their biggest fan/cheerleader, NSO, sit with fans and help explain the game. Show your team you love to support them as much as you love skating with them.
- And overall follow your doctor’s orders, do your physical therapy, and be patient with yourself. Injuries take time. You can recover and be back out there. Rushing it may lead to reinjury and longer time as a cheerleader.