October 2015 Member of the Month

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Leigh1October Member of the Month – Dame Smashews – Shipyard Sirens

Before I found roller derby, I was a bit of a lost soul. Competitive sport had been an integral part of my life throughout my entire childhood and early adulthood. My poor parents were forever dragging me back and forth to practices and competitions, but when I graduated from University, everything changed. I moved to a small town, started my “grown up job”, took on all the typical adult responsibilities grown ups do, and soon forgot how important my sports had been to me. It would be seven long, relatively sedentary years before I stumbled upon roller derby.

When I said sports had been a part of my life, I didn’t mean to imply that I had any natural talent. In fact, I would argue that I’m usually a bit slow to catch on. When I started swimming, I was the kid that routinely finished in last place. Not just last, I finished so far behind my competitors, my performance often earned the sympathy clap from the parents in the bleachers. When I started sprint canoeing, I spent an entire summer falling into the lake before I found my balance. I got the hang of everything eventually. I may have even gotten pretty good at those sports, but always in my own time.


When I decided to try roller derby, my initial experience was not unlike my previous rocky beginnings. I was in terrible shape, slow to learn, overly cautious and I spent more time falling down than I did actually skating. I didn’t know a single rule of the game. I had never seen a bout. In short – I had no idea what I was doing. I kept showing up though, and after every single practice, I could say that I learned to do something better than before. I can still say that. It’s one of the things that I love most about this sport. Every day that I show up for practice, I leave feeling like I’m a better skater than when I arrived. Sometimes my improvements are big things. More often, they are small things, but they keep me coming back.

Most people outside of the sport still think that roller derby is all about the big hits, bloody noses and broken bones. While it certainly does have its inherent risks, when a team is playing its best, these things are few and far between. A team of women working in perfect harmony is almost as amazing to watch as it is to be a part of. I am lucky that I get to be on a team that leaves me in awe on a daily basis. I have so many strong, athletic role models to look up to, and I am grateful for the support and encouragement I get from these individuals I get to call teammates.

Roller derby, and my league in particular, has had such a positive influence on my life. If my soul was lost before, it has been found…and it’s wearing roller skates.