When I was a child, my parents always told me that, as a woman, I was supposed to be shy, feminine, and passive. These qualities aren’t necessarily bad, but they aren’t for me. I want to be independent, assertive, and powerful. I was never allowed to do the many things that my brother did. He could play video games, but I couldn’t. He could wear sweatpants in public, but I couldn’t. Additionally, I was told to like the colors red and pink. Going to college gave me a sense of freedom from the restrictive perspectives of my parents. I was finally able to make decisions that would affect my future on my own, which included majoring in computer science. Even if I’m the minority as a woman in the computer science field, learning about technical subjects like programming, data structures, and algorithms has been the greatest experience. I even get to create video games in one of my classes!
With this newfound freedom, I stumbled upon roller derby. I was drawn to it at first because I thought it was such a cool sport. It is the polar opposite of what my parents would consider conventional. I saw women of all ages roller skating, shoulder checking, and hip bumping other women out of their way while wearing skirts and bright leggings! They expressed womanhood and female strength in a new dimension and displayed an innovative sense of self-expression. People encouraged these awesome, modern women and cheered them on. I was in intrigued, so I decided to join them.
I now train with the Charlotte Roller Girls in North Carolina. It is a fun sport, but practice is tough. Many of the new members are skating for the first time in years. Stopping with skates has been my biggest challenge — I have fallen quite a few times during practice. But it’s all worth it in the end. When practice ends, I’m always shocked at how quickly the two hours have passed. Each practice strengthens our communication, and everyone is always supportive of those who need help. The roller derby women are not just a team. We are a family — a family that protects and looks out for our fellow teammates, and no one is ever left behind.