Returning to roller derby after a serious injury:
In a sport like roller derby injury is a very real danger. Hurling yourself at other people with 8 wheels attached to your feet isn’t the safest pastime after all. So unfortunately, most players will face some kind of injury during their derby career. Sometimes the injuries are small, like a spectacular bruise (always a source of pride in our sport!), a twist or a sprain, and grazes and black eyes are all relatively common. However, sometimes things get much worse!
Both myself and my teammate, Shock ‘n’ Awedrey, have experienced broken ankles in the last couple of years. Our Broller brother, Terminathor, recently had his cage removed from his broken leg too! This is one injury that seems to occur within leagues the world over, and it’s a serious one. For some skaters, it spells the end of their time on skates. For myself, there was a period of about a year where I questioned whether or not I should strap skates on again. It took me a while to get my head back into the game after I decided I wanted to come back; my brain just couldn’t work out why I wanted to put myself in that situation again! For Shock, she seemed determined the entire time she was in plaster that she would return. Sure enough, not long after being released from her cast and her physio’ gave her the OK, there she was, back at training like she was born to do it!
Not everyone can have such a triumphant return. For some, the mental side of the injury can take over, or the injury can have a longer-lasting, even permanent affect. Some people just aren’t willing to risk repeated injury. When you hurt yourself in any way it’s a very personal event and has to be dealt with in a personal way. Speaking as someone who hurt themselves in a pretty bad way, I had to really challenge myself to overcome the fear that was left behind – long after the cast came off.
The adrenaline of playing my first public game in June helped me through the fear but the subsequent game, playing for Team Metal Legs against Team Crazy Legs, was very different – not helped by the bout programme containing a collection of X-rays and post-operative bruising. As I sat there waiting to roll on the track with the other team members, I played the worst case scenarios over and over in my head. Looking back, it wasn’t a healthy way to approach the game. We all survived with no injuries but with trepidation and fear I consequently experienced a very anxious first half. I’m sure at several points I turned completely green with fear! Thankfully, help was at hand. Following a much needed pep talk from my NRG Captain, Natastrophe, my head became much clearer and I finally began to really enjoy myself!
Playing for team Metal Legs:
Team Metal Legs are a group of skaters from all over the country who have endured serious injury from playing roller derby, but are back on skates and playing derby including two players from NRG! While we have only played one game to date, we hope to play many more in the future to raise additional funds for St. John Ambulance – an organisation instrumental in roller derby well-being and safety.
After a sweaty warm-up our captain for Team Metal Legs, Rosie Peacock, gathered us around and gave an encouraging speech. She reminded us how not so long ago there were dark days for all of us, lying in hospital beds, upset and immobile. However, we were all on track again stronger than ever and that alone was something to be proud of. So with beaming hearts we took to the track under the instruction to ‘just have fun’.
We didn’t have enough assigned jammers for the game as some were struggling with their return to roller derby – but when push came to shove, who stepped up for the team? Phoebe did! (A.K.A. Greek Frightening) Despite her nerves, Phoebe’s tenacity shone through. I was so inspired and proud of her that I even took the star myself, which I never do! That being said, I am proud of every single person on Team Metal Legs, as they all overcame their physical and mental obstacles to be skating that day.
The most heart-warming part of the day followed the game, hearing how we lifted the spirits of other recovering skaters. Some people waiting to get through physiotherapy so they can join us on track told us that Team Metal Legs were an inspiration to those still off-skates; while others on the team mentioned how much it meant for them to be back on track again. Despite their fears, the game we played reinforced their love for derby and gave them the encouragement they sought to keep playing their best.
We lost to Team Crazy Legs by 48 points but it was a really fun game to play and we all walked away with an enormous amount of pride in ourselves. We crashed, burned, then picked ourselves up and did a bloody good job of it too.
Shock ‘n’ Awedrey