I joined the Fairbanks Rollergirls in September 2009. I did so to become more active in a very cold climate and in hopes to make more friends outside of the work place.
In the beginning, my goal was to just skate. I just wanted to relive the fun of being on wheels as I did when I was 10. I found that its not exactly like riding a bike but having skating and skiing experience as a kid gave me some already needed skills to get back on skates as an adult with a bit of ease. That’s not to say it didn’t take work to get there but using those previous skills made it easier for me to tolerate the falls in the beginning rather than becoming easily frustrated.
When learning how to skate and acquire the needed skills on skates for derby, my weight hindered me the most. I had to work harder and my asthma constantly flared up making it that much more difficult for me to skate. With the support of my new League friends and soon to be teammates, I persevered. I miraculously passed required assessments to compete with my team within a 6 month time period. My teammates liked playing with me because of my size. I was a good wall crusher and opposing skaters disliked being behind me on the track due to my size. As great as that may have seemed, on the inside it was killing me. I knew I wasn’t healthy regardless how active I was and knew I needed to do something about it in order to maintain my own sanity and confidence.
After two seasons, being voted into leadership positions both on and off the track, I knew it was time to make a change to give myself the confidence I needed to be the leader my League mates had voted me to be.
In Fall 2011, my husband and I made a goal together to get healthy and lose weight. In the next 9 months, we cut almost all sugar, rid of all bread in our diet and increased our protein and vegetable intake. We had the support of a program but it took a lot from each of us to stick with the plan and be so successful. In 9 months, I had dropped almost 80 lbs and dropped 5 pants sizes while gaining so much more confidence as a person, wife, mother, teacher and skater.
I now feel that I am the athlete that I thought I never could be playing on a team that I love dearly. It’s an overwhelming feeling knowing that I have done what I thought I never could have done and now I am enjoying life more overall. Sometimes more so than when I was a teenager. I can be the active mom with my teenage son and I feel confident participating in events both at work and in the community. I have taken on activities that a year ago I would have scoffed at like running for fun and participating in local 5k races.
The best part is being able to kick those low self-esteem voices out of my head and move forward with confidence in everything I do. Something I was unable to do for a large part of my life as I always consumed with how I disliked myself.
Through this experience, my husband and I have become closer. We have helped each other through the struggles of it and have had moments of celebration, one of them being skydiving in Las Vegas.
There’s a song by Uncle Leon and the Alibis “Roller Derby Saved My Soul”. In my case this is the truth. Not only did it save my soul but provided me the strength to help me help myself to be a healthier person with the built-in support group of friends and teammates. I guess you could say playing roller derby was my A-ha moment!
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