This is basically my origins story. If this were a comic book it would be my first issue. How did I get started in roller derby? Buckle up. It’s a crazy story.
It all starts in 2009. Whip It the movie had just come out with Ellen Paige, and Kristen Wiig, and I thought it was nothing short of a cinematic masterpiece. Looking back, whipping isn’t really anything special, and every team does it. It’s not necessarily unique, but whatever. Anyway, I was absolutely infatuated with these women. They were beautiful, tough, smart, and athletic. Basically everything that my thirteen year old self wanted to be at the time. It was in my living room that I decided that I was going to grow up, lie about my age, and join my local roller derby team. I did little research and learned close to nothing about roller derby, but because I saw the movie, I thought I knew everything. On top of that, I thought no one had ever heard of it, so I thought was special. My name was going to be Bloody Holly, the most creative name in the history of roller derby. I stole it from the movie.
A few years went by, and in 2012, Playhouse on the Square in Memphis put on Xanadu. It’s a musical production where all the actors and actresses end up skating around and singing in a roller disco. In the program they thanked Memphis Roller Derby for teaching them all how to skate. They had flyers for MRD in the lobby, and my dad, god bless him, found a flyer for junior derby. He showed it to me, and I freaked out! I’m a junior, or I was at the time! It was perfect I didn’t have to lie about my age. The next week, my dad and I drove down to Mississippi to a hidden skating rink, and filled out some paper work. I couldn’t skate just yet because I didn’t have any safety gear and I didn’t pay the insurance yet. So the rest of the week was spent buying safety gear, and listening to my mother tell me how much she didn’t want me to play. I was sixteen, and honestly an adult by then so I could totally make decisions by myself.
I went back to practice on Sunday, borrowed a pair of skates from the rink and promptly fell flat on my back. I was so embarrassed. My coach at the time told me that it happens, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. That was my first fall, and she told me the first fall is the hardest. You can’t be afraid of making a mistake, or taking a risk. Now that I was used to falling, the worst was over. Now I wasn’t afraid of failing, I felt confident enough to let go of the wall and try and skate on my own. That first real practice, where I spent more time on my butt then my skates, I learned some confidence. Which was something I needed as a high school sophomore. Plus I had some great stories to tell my friends the next day in class. I felt like the resident bad girl. “Yeah I totally skate around and beat people up”, I got mad respect in the cafeteria to say the least.
I’ve come a long way, I think. I have my own pair of skates, I know how to change my own wheels, and I’ve learned so much. I'm now old enough to skate in a non-junior league, and I transferred to the Hard Knox Rollergirls and now have my own unique derby name: Amy Grindhouse. I know that I still have more to learn, and Hard Knox can teach me everything else. I’m proud of the mistakes I made, and trust me, I’ve made a lot, even in my short time skating, but if I hadn’t made those mistakes, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Honestly I probably would have quit, and gone back to watching Whip It on my couch, and dreaming up derby names, instead of going out, and taking charge.
That’s all for now - we’ll meet again in the Grindhouse.