Featured Cadet: Lauren
Tells us a bit about yourself. Do you have kids, what is your career, do you have pets, etc.?
I’m 28 years old and currently work at Stony Brook University. I’m a social worker and activist, an Aquarius, Disney-phile, and avid food lover. So basically, a 28-year old just trying to figure it all out!
When did you join SIDR?
Fall of 2017
How did you first hear about us, and what led you to want to become an SIDR skater or Ref?
I’ve always been interested in roller derby — it was the one thing that I really wanted to do. I was working a job that had really long hours and weekends, and I always told myself that when things settled down, I would join a league. Through that job I met people who were all connected to SIDR, and I told them how I was interested in joining but didn’t think that I could make the commitment because of my ridiculous schedule. When I started a new job in September, everyone was asking me “does that mean you are going to join?!”– I was on skates in October!
What was your bootcamp recruitment experience like?
I actually was not able to attend bootcamp, however, due to my experience with being on wheels (I grew up rollerblading and still do rollerblade for recreation), I was able to come to the first practice. I knew that being on quads was definitely going to be different than being on blades, so I made sure I went to my local tennis courts once or twice before that first day of practice, so I was somewhat familiar with quads. It was so different from what I was used to, and I was really nervous about starting because I felt like Bambi when he is on the frozen pond (it was not a pretty sight). But when I got to practice, everyone was so welcoming, and we bonded over our anxieties and newness to skating and the sport, and we were ready to take on this journey as a cohort.
What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of derby so far?
The most challenging aspect of derby so far, for me, has COMPLETELY been the mental challenges. Between trying to push yourself to overcome the fear of falling or trying something new to not comparing yourself to others to not getting down on yourself for not mastering something right away — I wasn’t expecting the biggest barrier to be my own brain. I have also gone through some health things (one derby-related injury, a sprained ankle, and one non-derby-related issue), and the feeling of going to practice to support your teammates but not skating, and fighting those feelings of disappointment in yourself, trying to not feel like your are disappointing the team, anxiety about falling behind in your skills — those have been truly the most challenging moments for me. But then I am reminded by the vets and the senior cadets that, while derby is a team sport and the community is amazing, it is also a very personal and individual journey, and we are just super supportive of everyone on their journey.
What has derby done for you both physically and mentally?
Physically, just getting my body moving and pushing myself has done amazing things. I feel athletic again (something I haven’t felt in a long time), and I feel strong. I am motivated to do more regular workouts off-skates, and I’m motivated to eat better (or just more conscientiously).
Mentally, I am learning patience with myself and learning to listen to my body, particularly with injuries (there is no shame in taking the time you need to heal). I am truly enjoying being challenged both physically and mentally, and the fact that I know, without a doubt, that I have am incredible group of skaters with me is something that I would not change for the world. The SIDR family might very well be one of the most affirming communities I’ve ever been a part of. They make me want to push harder and be better.
What are your derby goals?
I am just really coming back on skates after an ankle injury, so my short term derby goals are to be get my skills back up to where they were when I got injured, so I can pass my skills test. Long term, I want to be chartered (potentially jamming, who knows, we’ll see) and someone that the newer cadets can look up to and feel comfortable coming to me for advice and support. I want to continue the SIDR culture that has made my experience so positive.
What quote helps you to get through challenging times in order for your to push yourself to reach your goals?
This is your own journey. You want it to be great, you have to make it great.
Based on your experience, what advice would you give someone who is brand new to derby?
The fact that you want to try something new and challenging is already a win. If you feel scared or frustrated, we have all been there, and we can get through this together. The best feeling you will have is when you have that breakthrough moment with a skill or a move, and all the hard work to get up to that moment will feel so worth it that you are going to want to have that feeling over and over again, so you will push yourself over and over again to get it.
Derby is also the space where you can forget about everything else in the world that is shitty and hard and sad and crappy, and just skate and hit people (lovingly, of course). You feel strong and in control, and for that little bit of time during the week, you get to focus on you, your goals, your body, and your journey.
And, you have an entire league literally cheering you on. What can be better than that?
Did Lauren’s story inspire you to try roller derby?
We are having a recruitment bootcamp on September 8th – Skaters, Refs, and Officials wanted! Register here