Hard Knox Rollergirls

The Hard Knox Roller Girls are Knoxville's first and only competitive WFTDA roller derby league.  Come see what all the fuss is about.

Fresh Meat Blog: Welcome to my Evil Side, it's Mz Hyde

I received a call in April of 2016 from my friend, Ally Wheeler, asking me to go with her to a roller derby meet-n-greet. She said she really wanted to go and see what it was all about. She said, “Please go with me because I don’t want to go by myself.” So finally I agreed but told her not to try and persuade me into signing up. I honestly didn’t think the timing was right in my life. I went with her and immediately felt like I was home. The ladies started coming up to us and introducing themselves. I didn’t feel pressured or out of place. We watched them skate for hours, and it completely mesmerized me. I looked at her and said, 'we will do this together'.  When I was finally ready to participate in my first practice, it was two hours of endurance with the big girls. I made it through that night and thought, 'Wow that wasn’t so bad.' I remember getting home and being stoked to go back.

Photo by: Crystal Yearwood

Photo by: Crystal Yearwood

I skated for about a month and a half then started having pains in my abdomen at practice. Lyda, Cut, and myself just thought I may have pulled a muscle. Well, I kept skating until I just couldn’t do it anymore. The pain became excruciating no matter which way I turned. Kitty Twister asked me multiple times if she could take me to the hospital, but being stubborn instead, I went home to sleep it off. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. About an hour later I started getting really sick and had to be taken to the hospital. And guess what? Kitty Twister to the rescue…. She came and sat with me until my husband could be there with me. Don’t ask what we talked about, because only she knows; I don’t remember. I had surgery the very next day for appendicitis, and Tot brought me junk food to snack on.

That is when my derby name came to me, and just like Halestorm said, "Welcome to my evil side and now it is Mz Hyde." I still remember battling myself through the pain, but I kept on going. Sometimes with derby or with life, you feel like it is too hard to keep going, but you always find a way. I have learned to use the pain and anger to make me push harder. Everyone has issues in their lives, but not everyone has an avenue to get rid of them. This is my escape. Every practice, my love for my new family grows stronger. These women have helped me overcome more than they realize, and for that I am truly grateful. I have nothing but support and love getting to skate with my mini me, Gracie. She now skates for the Hard Knox Hooligans and loves it as much as I do.

Photo by: Crystal Yearwood

Photo by: Crystal Yearwood

There are times I catch myself getting overwhelmed with anxiety, but then I go to practice. There have been times where it would’ve been easier to give up and to walk away. I didn’t because my parents always told me to never give up on something just because it was hard. If things were always easy then everyone would do them. I still struggle with my own demons, but with skating, I feel better than I have in a long time. Some people already know my struggles, and that is okay. Just know you have helped me grow and finally realize who I am. I have found that it doesn’t matter if you are skinny, tall, short, etc.; we all play our parts and work together as a family. I have cried at practice numerous times but kept going to prove to myself that I am not a quitter. I have woken up the next day after practice sore and thought, 'man that hurts so good.' I am my biggest critic and sometimes truly harder on myself than I should be. That is something that I will continue to work on.  

Now a year later, I still keep coming back. Why you ask? Because this is my family away from home. I have learned that just because something seems scary or hard to not give up. That light at the end of the tunnel, well, I am still chasing it. Everything has finally come full circle, and this is my chance to finally be a Hard Knox Roller Girl (not just a rec groupie).  I had fun last year growing and helping with derby bouts, but now I want more, and I want that jersey. I truly feel extremely proud of myself and proud of every woman who has made this journey with me.  And just like Chris always says at practice, “We are skating fast and turning left. Ready and GO!"

~Crystal Yearwood

Photo by: Erica Johnson

Photo by: Erica Johnson

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