Just a couple weeks shy of four years ago, I attended my first Old Capitol City Roller Girls practice.
Little did I realize, that on that night, my entire life would change.
Kimberly-A thirty three year old married woman with four little girls ages 4 and 18 months. I had not been involved with team sports since middle school, I had not been on roller skates for fifteen years (okay maybe more than that.) Not to mention, for the last 18 months (plus 33 weeks of pregnancy/nine of which I was on hospital bed rest) I had been caring for my triplet daughters and my little Chloe girl. I needed to find something to do...all for me. Something to ease tension and get back into shape (or at least better shape.) Something to make me feel confident and strong. Don't misread...I LOVE BEING A WIFE AND A MOMMY. I just needed something to take me out of reality a few hours a week.
I went to this practice with my pal "Fonda Cuffs". She and I have been friends for many years, and she invited me to tag along and check this roller derby thing out. I remember being so nervous. What if I was too old? Too out of shape? What if I didn't fit in? What if I embarrassed myself? I left the practice, (which was really just five women and one referee talking about how to get this league going) went home and immediately started looking online for my skates and my gear. Matt was so supportive. He thought it was so great and was happy to see me smile and be excited about this new "hobby" I had found.
Fast forward to July 2010.
My "hobby" had turned into, well, a full blown part of my everyday life. Kind of like a full time job that you didn't receive a check to do. (Like motherhood, rewarding in so many other ways that it is worth it. You receive "payment" in other capacities.) It makes you feel good, whole, important and accomplished. Practices, board member responsibilities, board meetings, human resources, scheduling practices/bouts, bouts, fundraisers, planning, promoting, paperwork....so many aspects to running a league. I proudly shared in much of the business side of the league, as well as being a rostered skater, and I did love it, but it was a lot of responsibility and a lot to keep up with.
July 2010, I was scheduled to have a surgery on my legs to relieve a problem called "compartment syndrome." This annoying and painful swelling in my lower legs was something I had been fighting through since joining the team in Octber 2008. It was a fairly simple surgery and I would be off skates six to eight weeks post surgery, and then back better than before...Just a few days before my scheduled surgery, I blew my left knee at practice. I completely ruptured PCL and MCL and dislocated the patella. I'll be honest, it was more painful than I recall childbirth being, and also...no reward of a baby in your arms when it's over. Long story short, in September 2010 I had major knee surgery, and now have two donor ligaments in my knee. It was a long recovery. Six weeks without being able to bend my leg. Eight weeks with no weight baring and months of physical therapy, three times a week. It was difficult, painful and discouraging, but it was just the hand that life had dealt me, so I played it. I spent the next year bench coaching. Being a positive force on the team, even if it was from the bench and not on my skates. I continued with all of the other jobs I had and I was confident in my role as a coach. However, I knew in my heart that skating was where I wanted to be. I was determined to get there. I would get there. I can do anything I set my sights on, right?
On June 11, 2011 I was cleared to put my skates back on. No contact or falling yet, but at least I could test my sea legs or knee rather. After two more months, in September 2011, one year exactly from surgery, I was clear for contact. Completely released for all activities (although my surgeon thought I was crazy).
I worked and worked and worked for the remainder of the season, trying to get back to where I felt I should be. Playing catch up with myself and with the league overall. The game had evolved so much while I had been off skates. Although I had the mental game and the strategy knowledge on my side...my body and skills were lagging. The new season of bouting began in February 2012. We traveled to Minnesota to play the All-Stars. (How's that for my first bout back! The Minnesota All Stars!) It was a tough game, mentally and physically and emotionally. It felt fantastic to be ON the track again with my team. Although we lost (badly) I learned so much. About derby, about myself, about myself in the role of an athlete. I felt proud. I was doing it. I was skating again!
Fast forward to late summer 2012.
I have continued in all of my leadership roles within the team this year, as well as skating again. My knee feels great. (Although the rest of my body feels really really old.) The season has been a tough one, which is good, because we are growing as a league and becoming more competitive with amazing teams. I have always been of the mind set that it's not about winning or losing, but about having fun. Doing what you do because it makes you happy. Derby has always made me happy.
Then I hurt my shoulder during a practice. At first I thought I had pulled a muscle, but not the case. Still not exactly sure what is happening with it, as I have not had an MRI. However, I know that there is something that isn't right with it. I have continued to skate through it because I did not want to quit. I did not want to be injured again.
The entire season has had several challenges for me individually. I have that little voice in the back of my mind thinking...what if you get hurt again? What if. I have battered and bullied myself for not being as good as I want to be, not as good I have told myself I have to be. Of course I have my strong points, and I know that. But, I feel as though everyone around me is excelling and I am stuck in neutral. Honestly, it's a bad feeling. A feeling that makes you cry inside and outside. It hurts. So I started to do some soul searching. What is it? Why do I feel this way? After several months of thought, back and forth conversations with myself about what to do, I stepped out of a few of my roles within the league, hoping that it would help ease things, but it didn't change the way I was feeling inside. Always at maximum stress, questioning why can't I be better? Angry at myself for feeling like I was failing at something I wanted so much to be good at. Never feeling like I had enough time for anything.
I have realized, the reason I feel this way, is because I have come to a crossroad in my personal life, my babies are all in school this year, and I don't want to be away from them in the evenings, because I miss them. I want to be at home to read and do spelling tests and snuggle after bath time, every night...not just five out of seven or less on weeks we have bouts. I am taking full time classes,as well as taking on clients and building my career, which takes a lot of time and focus to be successful. I miss the free time with my husband. He has been 200% supportive of derby since day one, but I miss him. It's difficult when he has a night off work and I have to leave for practice or whatever might be happening.
With these heavy thoughts lingering in my heart and in my mind...I realized that derby filled an opening in me as a woman. An opening I could never really pinpoint. It made me confident and proud of myself for coming out of my comfort zone and doing something unique and challenging. Derby taught me that I am an amazing woman, an amazing mother and and an amazing wife. Derby taught me so much about life, about me. So really, the thoughts that I am feeling are not heavy or negative, they are positive. Derby allowed me to find me.
The last four years have been an incredible journey.
I wouldn't change anything about the way my derby story was played. The series of events all happened for a reason. I am proud to say I was part of OCCRG, a part of roller derby. I am so graced to have met so many terrific people. People who have changed my life in so many positive ways, people that love me and care about me. I know that those people will be forever in my life, with derby or without derby. They have made a hand print on my heart. I am honored to have helped build this league and look forward to watching it continue to grow.
I am ecstatic looking toward my future... to be an old gray haired grandma, telling my grandchildren that I WAS once A ROLLER GIRL!
It is with sw33t tears, that I will hang up my skates after the bout on Friday night.
This chapter has come to an end.
I look forward to beginning the next chapter in my life's journey.
I always say, "Happiness is a Journey, not a Destination."
Yesterday Today and Forever ...