Sunday, December 12, 2010

A New Life

Every entry in The Rollergirl Project is a small glimpse into the life of a derby girl.  This entry is by Magpie who skates for the Lake City Roller Dolls.  More pictures of her can be found at Cory's website
IMG_2260My name is Megan Dinse and I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and a friend. I love animals and kids and consider myself to be a compassionate human being. I also love to skate. I am a derby girl. You can call me Magpie.
Derby entered my life in February 2010, at just the right time. I had just found out that my husband of seven years wanted a divorce. My life as I knew it had dropped out from under me. I was in shock and I didn’t know how to move forward. And then roller derby knocked on my door… I’m talking with a friend when she tells me she’s going to watch a co-worker skate in a derby bout. My mind flashes back to sitting in the movie theater watching “Whip It” and thinking how bad-ass Ellen Paige’s character became. I tell my friend to send me the details of the bout as this is my chance to watch roller derby for real. She sent me something even better – a flyer she’d come across that said a roller derby team was starting up in my town. OMG…this was my chance to become like Ellen Paige!!! I honestly remember thinking about it and asking myself, “What have I got to lose?” I’ve never been athletic and have never played a sport in my life, but roller derby sounded exciting and daring and was definitely out of my comfort zone. I figured this sad, confused, crying-mess I’d turned in to could use a change of pace and the chance to get out some aggression.
So I went to the informational meeting. I looked around the table at the ten or so girls and saw that they weren’t all super tiny and athletic looking. I came right out and said I’d never played a sport before, unless you counted watching TV which I’d become quite good at. Some of them laughed but no one told me to get the hell out, so I figured that was a good sign. A few days later, I went to the local skating rink and put on my first pair of speed skates. I’d decided that if I fell flat on my face the first time around, perhaps this wouldn’t be the sport for me. I hugged the side of the wall and broke a sweat after only a few laps around – but I did not fall! A few days after that, I gathered up some friends and attended my first roller derby bout to watch the Fort Wayne Derby Girls. We sat down in what I have now come to know as suicide seats! I  was in very close view of these chicks in their fishnets and booty shorts and I loved it. Looking around at the crowd, I saw parents and friends wearing shirts in support of their favorite derby girl. I was filled with immediate excitement at the thought of my friends and family cheering for me. I was already envisioning my mom with a shirt that said ‘Magpie’s mom’! Halfway into watching the bout, I turned to my friends and said, “I’m doing this thing.”
IMG_2231IMG_2190About a week later, I attended the first practice of what has now become the Lake City Roller Dolls. Within a few weeks, I was voted captain of the league. At 31 years of  age, not only was I joining my first sport ever, but I was voted captain…of ROLLER DERBY! I was the kid in middle school who hated gym class and would stand in the outfield during softball and pray that no one hit the ball in my direction. I can say with certainty that this was not something I had ever envisioned for myself. But now I can’t imagine my life without it.
During the most difficult year of my life, roller derby has been a source of positivity in so many ways. First and foremost, I believe derby has helped me to find myself again and reconnect with who I truly am as a person. I think somewhere along the path of my past, I lost a little bit of who I was. But since joining derby, I feel like I am a better version of myself. Roller derby has also given me the opportunity to spend time with amazing women – ladies that I never would have met otherwise. My teammates have become my family and some of my best friends. I have a derby wife whom I love dearly. I will do anything I can to support these women and I believe they’d do the same for me. Roller derby has also given me other things – the chance to volunteer and help out in my community, the opportunity to step up as a leader and help build a team, and the chance to be an athlete and get in shape.
When people ask how I got into roller derby, I tell them it was as if it fell from the sky and landed in my life at the exact time I needed it. I don’t believe the timing was coincidence. At any other point in my life, I probably would not have attended that first meeting. But the opportunity arose just as I was opening the door to a new life. Derby is so much a part of my life now and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Roller derby helped me to save myself. For that I will always be grateful.
IMG_2202 High Contrast B&W

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Family Affair

Every entry in The Rollergirl Project is a small glimpse into the life of a derby girl.  This entry is by Hurts Donut who skates for The Rollergirls of Southern Indiana.  More pictures of her can be found at Cory's website.
Katie.  Baker.  Donut.  Jammer.  Sister.  Daughter.  Derby Girl.  Any and all encompass the things that make!
IMG_9833 My sister Amanda and I have played lots of sports throughout the years. They offer just about anything as you wind through the public school system; We've done softball, soccer, track, cross country, swim, dodge ball, and bowling. Amanda's taller which made cross country easier for her while my small frame made swimming a pretty decent sport for me, but neither one of us we're really star athletes. But even if they're not the best parents tend to go all out in support of their offspring. My parents did a fair job cheering for me on the soccer sidelines or handing me towels coming out of the pool, and grabbing Amanda water after a race but they really got the bug for their kids playing roller derby. My derby mom could kick your soccer mom's ass in a cheering contest.
Now they weren't thrilled at the start. My sister Amanda played first. She came to family dinner one balmy summer Sunday evening and explain this sport called roller derby to our parents. You could tell by the look on their faces that neither one thought all that much of this strangely rough female sport. They were probably picturing staged punches being thrown at her and breaking her neck going over the rail of the classic roller derby of the 60's and 70's. And mom in particular wasn't too keen on her eldest daughter playing it. Then Amanda ran off and got me involved. Enter mom being even more apprehensive as both of her daughters are playing some rough and tumble sport that is sure to get us maimed. But our mom has always been a bit of a Tom-boy and our dad appreciates the odd, unpopular bits of society so after catching a couple games, figuring out what was happening, and seeing how much we really enjoyed the sport they came right around.
Of course it takes everyone at least one game to figure out what's going on and really get into the sport. Our parents came to the first game ROSI ever had in December of 2007 to see my sister play. They came away from that with sort of a "We'll that's not as bad as we thought" mindset. They still weren't thrilled though but, in support of their children, came to ROSI's first official home game to watch both of us in action. They sat in the floor seating, with dad scooting down to the suicide seats for a bit just to give it a try. I think seeing us working together and pushing ourselves, as well as walking out of our first game together unscathed, finally convinced them it wasn't so bad after all.
IMG_9771IMG_9761The more derby came into our lives the more it became a family affair. Mom has a blue, star covered vest she fills with the pins we sell of all the girls on our team. Not just her daughters; she's adopted every single skater as one of her derby kids. Dad has a bad back but he'll always sit in the suicide seats for at least a portion of every game he can. He's also the team chuffer for away games. If it's not too far he'll offer up the extra seats in our van to girls that need a ride, he's buys them lunch when we stop, and houses them in our hotel room. When games are further out he'll rent bigger cars so he can take more girls. After some car trouble on our way to a game in Ohio, he offered to rent the effected parties another car to get them to the game. He bought 3 extra hotel rooms on that same trip after girls who were going to camp got rained out and for the car that broke down and wasn't driving back that night. He also enjoys having a beer with girls post game. Either of our parents will travel anywhere and procure anything to help their girls, blood or adopted, do the best they can.
Ask anyone involved and they'll always mention how much you're derby team mates are like family. At least one of my team mates actually is my family. I love skating with my sister. We have very similar skating styles which makes it easy to maneuver around each other on the track. We don't have to communicate verbally to understand one another either. One game early on in our derby lives Amanda was jamming and , as a newbie, I was playing the inside line. She passed through the opposing skaters in the back of the pack, came to the inside line and tapped my hip. I instinctually got out off the line to let her through and stepped right back to the line as she passed. We did the same thing two more times in that same jam and she racked up nine points. She never had to throw me off the line or yell for me to move. She just tapped my hip. We enjoy similar types of humor and the same kinds of activities so at practice we can always make off-handed comments the other one understands even if no one else gets it. Especially when I started it was so much easier to be involved in the group by being able to acquaint myself with others by jumping into her conversations.
It's really a great feeling. As children grow up I know parents can fade from their lives a bit. Siblings drift when their lives go different directions. The older you get and the more of your own life you live the harder it is to keep those connections when you get busy and you're running ragged. But we always hold family dinner on Sunday nights so we can catch up and enjoy each other's company. And if I miss a dinner then I know I can see my sister at practice later that week and I'll get to see mom and dad at the next game. We'll get to catch up on the next road trip. I've got friends that don't see their parents much anymore and I always think how sad I would be if I didn't get to see my family regularly. Roller derby helps to keep that from happening. It's my family affair and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mother, Wife, Sister, Daughter and A Real Demon

Every entry in The Rollergirl Project is a small glimpse into the life of a derby girl.  This entry is by Ariel Demon who skates for Rollergirls of Southern Indiana.  More pictures of her can be found at Cory's website.
Who are you? Mundane life... Derby life... the basics...
IMG_0583I am, first and foremost, Kristan Dawn Weber. I am and always will be the tomboy who climbs trees, is more comfortable in jeans and tennis shoes than anything else, who loves to go fishing and as a child tried to “hug” my dad’s entire bucket of bait by putting the worms down my shirt, the jeep-driving, wrench turning grease monkey who would much rather be dirty and outside than prim and proper and stuck inside.
I am also mother, wife, sister, daughter, hell raiser, black sheep, girlfriend, friend, confidante, employee and last but not least I am ARIEL DEMON!! Derby girl with the Rollergirls of Southern Indiana.

How did you discover derby and what drew you to that first practice or meeting to create a league?
I was at my favorite bar and a guy I went to high school with just happened to be there. I hadn’t seen this guy in years, so we were catching up and I asked him what was new in his life. He started talking about roller derby an how he was refereeing for a local team and I HAD to come watch. About a month later, I went to my first ever derby bout. I watched for all of 30 seconds before the words, “I have to do this!” came out of my mouth. I got back in touch with my buddy and he told me when and where to show up for a practice
Have your relationships with other women changed since joining? Friendships with rollergirls? Others?
Honestly, I am NOT a fan of women. We’re catty, we’re bitchy, we’re judgmental and we’re moody. Put us in a large group and it’s just ridiculous the amount of problems that much estrogen can create!
However, I have never met a group of women that I love more than my derby girls. We still have all the same attitude and stupid petty shit to deal with that any other gathering of women does, but we’re capable of putting all that aside to work together toward a common goal. Once we hit the track, whether in practice or competition, all the stupid crap fades away and we’re all focused on the one thing that matters – teamwork. I have more women that I can call my friends than I’ve ever had in my entire life, and it’s all thanks to derby.
Have your pre-derby relationships with friends and family changed?
Relationships with friends and family really haven’t changed. They just get sick of listening to me talk about derby.
Derby wife - What does that relationship mean to you? How is it different then your other friends and team mates?
Derby wife isn’t just a friend, she’s a best friend both on and off the track. She’s the one that keeps me moving when I don’t wanna move any more. She’s the one that holds my hand if I’m having a rough practice or holds my hair if I push myself so far that I’m puking. I keep in touch with my wife no matter if I’m making practices or missing practices, and if she’s missing from a practice or event I make darn sure I know where she is and that she’s OK.
Has there been a change to your professional life or relationships?
My boss and his wife came to one of my bouts and were astounded at the side of me they had never seen before. I’m normally such a quiet thing at work. I keep to myself and I keep my mouth shut, most of the time, lest the smart ass that I really am come tumbling out and get me in trouble. Ever since my boss came and watched me skate, he looks at me as more of an equal than an underling. He actually talks TO me instead of AT me now, which is a huge improvement. Yeah, there’s been a change in my work relationships, but it’s all for the better.
Has dating changed at all since joining? Harder? Easier?
Dating is hard anyway. Throw something as demanding as derby in there and of course it’s harder. Trying to balance children, derby and any sort of love life is damn near impossible UNLESS you’re dating someone that’s willing to love derby as much as you do. I’m lucky that the guy I’m dating is willing to consider time spent with me at a derby function as quality time spent together. I can’t imagine how anyone dating someone that has no interest in derby or would see it as competition would do it.
Has your personality evolved at all since becoming involved?
I would not way that my personality has changed at all since becoming involved with derby. However, what has happened is that I’m less likely to keep my mouth shut. I’ve gained confidence in myself, and with that confidence – much to my family’s chagrin – has come the ability to stand up and say Hey! That’s wrong! Or Hey! You can’t say that to me anymore! You can’t judge me anymore and get away with it because I am, by damn, a valuable human being!
Have your attitudes towards different types of people changed?
My attitude toward women has changed for the better. I really didn’t think I was capable of having a meaningful relationship with a woman before. Now not only is it possible but I have real relationships with many of the women on my team and I love it.
How would you have described yourself before derby? How about after?
Before? Geek, nerd, bookworm, quiet. Now I still describe myself as a self proclaimed nerd and bookworm, but I am also strong, physically fit, active, tough, unstoppable and beautiful.
IMG_0635A large portion of photography is the physical self. When you look in a mirror, how did you describe yourself before and how do you describe yourself after?
Before derby I would describe myself by the little bit of baby fat I still had left. Hey, after 4 kids you’re allowed a little! Now, when I look in the mirror I describe myself as physically fit. I’m in the best shape I’ve been in since high school and it shows.
Has your definition of beauty changed for yourself or others?
My idea of beauty has always been that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that hasn’t changed at all. I’ve never been one to judge people based on the idea of beauty that only exists in magazines, so it’s easy for me to look at my derby sisters and see something beautiful about all of them.
What makes you go to practice? What drives you to play? What is it that makes it worth the time, money and risk?
Man, what drives me? Love? Yeah, love. Love of the sport, love of the team, love of the way my body feels when I’ve been beat to hell at practice… I love almost everything about this wonderful, fantastic, frustrating sport that is so full of blood, sweat, tears, work, women, joy, drama, athleticism, and much much more. My life is improved exponentially since derby became part of my life. On that sad, sad day when I no longer feel that I am physically capable of meeting the demands of derby, I guarantee I’ll stay involved in some way. There’s a lot more to roller derby than just the girls on the track, and I plan to be involved as long as I possibly can.