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Just Keep Rolling: What a Summer of Roller Derby Taught Me

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Carleton chapter.

Over the summer, I participated in a roller derby training program in my hometown. It was fun, exhausting, and pretty informative. If you don’t feel like spending the money or time to learn a new sport, here are the lessons I learned while learning roller derby. 

Just Keep Moving Forward

The first time you put on roller skates, your first instinct might be to slowly wobble along as carefully as possible, stopping and starting over and over. However, as you continue, you might learn that moving faster and more consistently actually provides some more stability. Momentum can help keep you upright. This idea can be applied to many areas of life; if you procrastinate homework for a few days, for example, it’ll be harder to get started again, and much easier if you continue moving through work at a consistent pace.

Be Resourceful

Roller skating is not quite as easy as putting the skates on and gliding along with poise and grace. Apparently, you need equipment, then more equipment to adjust the first round of equipment, then even more equipment to keep you from breaking any bones when the original equipment makes you fall on your butt. A lot. Sometimes, it’s best to be resourceful. Instead of a specific roller skate tightening wrench, a regular adjustable wrench might just do the job.

Failure is the only way to learn

After weeks of stumbling around like a newborn deer, I finally did it. Not learning to skate, of course, actually the exact opposite; I wiped out, hard. Somehow, though, that seemed to be the solution. I was less afraid of falling, which allowed me to try more difficult maneuvers and really improve. That applies everywhere; if you’re too afraid to fall, you’ll never take your first steps.

Treat your body well, and it will return the favour

Before my first practice, I spent my day working myself harder than I needed to, then pushed myself to work the hardest and take no breaks during the practice itself. Needless to say, that first practice didn’t go so well, and those habits definitely did not make two hours of intense exercise any easier. The next week, I made a change. I listened to my body, took breaks when I needed to and drank plenty of water. The change was instant; I was able to do much better work, and I felt better afterwards. Remember, your body isn’t a temple, it’s a living being, so listen when it tells you what it needs.

You are surrounded by more community than you realize

My hometown, while not exactly a small town, certainly isn’t a big city either. As a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, I often doubted how many other members of the community were nearby. I never really had the opportunity to connect with my community at home, so I assumed there wasn’t one. Boy was I wrong. Roller derby is a sport that is open to anyone, but it’s known primarily as a space for 2SLGBTQ+ women. In one practice, I met more members of my community than I had in the years prior. So remember, if you ever feel alone, reach out to your community; you’ll be surprised how many people reach back.

Quitting is Ok

If there’s one thing I learned above all else throughout this experience, it’s that I absolutely cannot roller skate. Whoops. Try as I might, I was not made to be graceful on wheels. Maybe the fact that I don’t have a driver’s license and a scar from my childhood scooter accident could have been hints, but alas, history is doomed to repeat itself. Perseverance is an admirable trait; there are many times in life when it is important to push through hardships in order to achieve success. Sometimes, though, it’s best to quit while you’re ahead. If you truly don’t enjoy something, especially an activity you’re supposed to be doing for fun, it’s never too late to back out and find something that’s better suited to you. Even if that means taking a break, most hobbies will still be there when you decide to pick them back up, or in this case, put the skates back on.

Sometimes the real roller skates are the friends you make along the way

Throughout my trials and tribulations in the roller derby world, I had one secret weapon; my best friend. We agreed to join together, we carpooled to and from practices and made sure to pick up a little treat after every workout session because we earned it. As an introvert, I never would have taken such a risk alone, but having a friend next to me helped immensely. Even if we were failing, we were failing together. So next time you feel like taking a risk and trying something new, bring a friend along. At the very least, it’ll make for a good story.

Reagan Spencer

Carleton '25

Reagan Spencer is a Journalism Major at Carleton University. She uses she/her pronouns and identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. She is passionate about equality, human rights and mental health. She spends her free time exploring the city, writing and occasionally playing dungeons and dragons.