I used to watch roller derby on TV as a little girl and knew I had to do it when I grew up. Then it kind of died off and you didn’t hear anything about derby for years. When I saw a sign for roller derby tryouts at a local rink in 2009, I called my mom immediately, had her ship my old skates back up to me, and have been at it ever since. I grew up skating with my dad, starting when I was 5. Speed skating was my favorite, though I’d do artistic with Dad, and open skate at every opportunity. In total we would skate 6 days of the week, up until I was about 15. I had never skated without him. He got sick and I hung up my skates - until I found derby. The most valuable thing I’ve learned is that athletes and beauty come in all shapes and sizes. My head always knew it of course, but it wasn’t until derby that I truly understood. I played derby with Hudson Valley for 4 years, Gotham for 2, “retired” for 2, and I’ve been back now for almost a year, happily with CTRD. My biggest challenge is my own confidence. It’s a constant struggle, but my teammates and coaches help me build it back up when I can’t on my own. What I like best about bouting? Nothing simulates the heart-pounding adrenaline-filled intensity of taking the track with your team against your opponent, who you know has also put in the same blood, sweat, and tears as you all have together. It’s also the only time you get to share your passion with your family and friends, in the hopes that they can catch a glimpse into this insane obsession. My advice for rookies is to learn to forgive yourself sometimes. We work so hard at this, every day. Most days you’ll see progress, little by little. But every now and then, you’ll have an off day. So will I. Sometimes everyone else on the track gets a drill or a skill, and you can’t make your feet do it. Or your body. This will happen. To ALL of us. Please don’t be too hard on yourself. Just keep trying, keep working. You’ll get that drill. You’ll have a better day.