I joined Auld Reekie Roller Girls in May 2011 which seems like an age ago! Every time I think back to when I first put skates on, I laugh. I couldn’t stop or turn a corner and would often hit the wall if I got too cocky and went too fast. The first time I saw a game I thought – there’s no way I could ever do that. Now I’m playing for the All Star Rookies (ASTRO) and we have a game on Saturday against Mean City! This is the first time I’ve played in public with ASTRO so I’m incredibly excited. We were talking tactics at the weekend so I feel READY!
I didn’t actually play my first game of roller derby until roughly three years after I joined ARRG. Although I’ve skated intermittently during that time, I was around enough to see the sport evolve and keep my connections within the league. By which I mean keeping in touch with friends in the league and volunteering. The beauty of being part of a roller derby community is that whether or not you can skate, there’s always a place for you. You can be involved.
I passed the minimum skills after completing the fresh meat programme the first time. It was massively exciting to move up to skate ‘with the big girls’ as we affectionately called it at the time. All this amazing stuff was happening as I ignored increasing pain in my left hip. Eventually I couldn’t ignore it and it turned out I’d significantly damaged the inside of my hip joint so I needed surgery. That was all fine and I would come back and play again when I was better.
When that time came and it was a shock. I couldn’t do what I could before and I had gained a lot of weight. There’s a rule in the roller derby community that you should never compare your progress to others. It’s sound advice but I went beyond that and compared my recovery to other people’s recovery! My confidence was low and I came close to quitting all together. I accepted that if I wanted to play, I had to work for it so I took another few months off to strengthen each bit of my body and mind that needed to be strong. When I returned again, I struggled through the minimum skills test and eventually passed after countless attempts. When I moved to intermediate I thought ‘that’ll do’ but I then progressed to advanced training, then soon after I got selected for the All Star Reserves. When I got the email offering me a place, I may have cried a little.
After that amazing experience I’ve had some other obstacles to tackle such as depression which made playing roller derby that wee bit harder. I took another break. I take a lot of breaks but I know that’s OK. If that’s what it takes to keep me playing, that’s fine. When ARRG decided to create the ASTROs I was incredibly excited. A great opportunity arose for me and I was lucky to get a place. I feel really at home in this team and whenever I feel that I should be progressing better or faster I remind myself that I almost quit once and had I done that, I wouldn’t have proved that a big person like me could be athletic, I wouldn’t have achieved what I wanted, I wouldn’t have met so many amazing people and I wouldn’t be playing with the ASTROs on Saturday.
Pummela alongside her fellow ASTROs take on Mean City Roller Derby this Saturday. Full game details via Mean City’s Facebook page.