First, a little bit about me. My name is Marysha (derby name TBD). I am painfully shy, a lifelong vegetarian and obsessed with my cat, Charlie. I love reading, any outdoor activity, and brain rattling doom metal. I do not love people who litter, flip flops, or standing still.
I first encountered roller derby on a visit to a friend’s house in Mississippi. We had just finished dinner (and more than a few drinks) and one of the girls spontaneously rolled up her pants and shirt to show off the biggest bruise I had seen in my life. Her right side was completely purple from her thigh to about the middle of her ribcage. It looked so painful, but she just grinned and shrugged it off as a common occurrence. I asked her what in the world she did on a regular basis that left her looking like a car crash survivor. She laughed and said in her thick Ukrainian accent, “roller derby”. After a brief explanation and several hours of verbal recaps and practice footage, I was hooked.
Fast forward to fall 2014, a move to Knoxville and a new chapter in my life. I found the HKRG website and began keeping tabs on their activities. After a couple of months, I finally worked up the courage to click on the “want to be a skater” link on the website. I got a response after about ten minutes telling me about an upcoming fresh meat 101 meeting. My friend Bleu Steele and I ran the gamut of excuses and then decided to just do it. We went to the meeting and met several skaters who were unbelievably welcoming and enthusiastic. The thing that struck me was how unapologetically obsessed they all were. I wanted to see firsthand what was so addicting about strapping wheels to your feet and letting other people try to knock the crap out of you.
I went straight home from that meeting and ordered my skates and gear. I spent the next couple of weeks running through scenes in my head of me being carried out of the boot camp with every bone broken and all teeth lost. However, money had been spent. This was now an investment. The day of the boot camp came, time to shine. I hadn’t skated since 1997 and did not have much hope for muscle memory. I took my first baby giraffe steps out on the floor, scared to death and angry that I had forgotten to pee before starting. Five sweaty, delirious hours later, I understood the obsession I had seen in the women at the meeting. This was a blast. I was terrible but it didn’t matter. There was an entire crew of people there to help me learn and encourage me, but also to tell me to get over it and just try.
I have been skating for about four months now and still have a long way to go. The thing that I love most about derby is that there is always a new challenge and room to grow. I am now confidently obsessed and love every bruise and patch of lost skin because each one came with a skill or lesson learned. I came in not comfortable shaking hands or even standing too close to people (people in general are disgusting, and the smells…eww). The women and men of HKRG don’t care that I don’t like touching or that my personal bubble is miles wide. “Get over it and put your hands on her (insert body part)!” is a command I now respond to with enthusiasm. I am looking forward to growing more as a skater and as a person with HKRG. My goals for the coming months are to pass my skills test and to choose a derby name. Stay tuned for the results. Thank you for reading.