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The view from the roller derby track daunting and exhilarating

September 28, 2011 - Erin O'Neill
When I walked into the roller rink, the same one I had skated in as a teenager, my stomach was in knots. Not because I was in a room full of people I didn’t know but because I finally had the gumption to try something I have wanted to do for years — roller derby.

I can’t remember when or why exactly the idea came to me. I have never seen the Drew Barrymore movie, “Whip It,” I never had any girlfriends who were into it, but I think it was probably when I saw a poster in Columbus for the Ohio Roller Girls. It looked so glamorous and so dangerous at the same time —and it was a bunch of women out there beating the living daylights out of each other and hugging it out afterwards ... how cool is that?

So when I saw a flyer posted in the window of a local sporting goods store, the stars were aligned. I knew I had to do it.

Being a working mom of a school-age child who is involved in her own activities makes it difficult for me to find the time to do things that I like to do. But roller derby is something I am going to make time for because there is something just so gratifying about it.

I have only been to two practices but already I am doing things that I never thought I would attempt: falling on my knees on purpose (pads really make a difference), trying to perfect the “rock star” slide, sliding across the floor on my stomach in a classic “baseball” slide, going around the rink more than once in full protective gear and not passing out.

I may not be the greatest skater but I’m out there giving it my all and trying something new and that alone is worth all the bruises, fishnet burns and sprained ankles I am likely to experience.

The perfect derby persona still eludes me, despite countless hours reading up on the sport and double checking the master roster (oh yes, there is such a thing at and suggestions from friends and family. I’m sure it will come to me when the time is right.

I still have quite a way to go and much more to learn but I feel like I am in capable hands and I’m looking forward to connecting with the other brave women. I think my love affair with roller derby may be indefinite. To quote Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, “Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.”


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