Retirement - any retirement - is a heavy decision accompanied by careful consideration and thought. It just hit me, though. I think I'd been ignoring it for months as it crept into my secret self and then exploded.
Participating in the sport and business of roller derby has taught me numerous life lessons, along with a multitude of personal issues that I didn't know I had. One of them is that I can't shut up. I can't sit back and let someone make a mistake (well, what I think is a mistake) and not "help." I can't do it. This is one of two reasons why I can't stay with Maine Roller Derby.
I started with Maine Roller Derby in September of 2006, just six months after they met at a pizza shop to talk about how they watched Rollergirls on A&E and needed to make it happen in Maine. For all of the almost-six years I spent with Maine Roller Derby I served in a leadership position, sometimes several at a time. What I learned during this time is invaluable: working as a team (with women I often did not agree with); communicating efficiently and effectively; never injecting emotion, tone, or personal bullshit into emails; separating derby business from the track; swiftly dealing with issues so they don't fester and infect; and a shit-ton of skills that make my resume look like it was dipped in gold. I am 100% confident that I could run just about any business and work with just about any person, no matter how dip-shitty they are.
Aside from the business part, I was part of the all-star team. The last skating member of the original team. Being part of that team gave me a sense of identity and connection. I've never had so much got-damn fun in my life, and I've never cried so many got-damn tears, too. Mostly happy ones. The women I've had the privilege to skate with are and will always be held tight in my heart and memory. We went to war together and, win or lose, we came back stronger and smarter. I doubt anything will make me more happy than the time I spent as a Port Authority.
My love and loyalty for the league has kept me afloat during all the growing pains, the rebuilding, the heartache. A few years ago I came to realize that Maine Roller Derby (and probably all small leagues) will always have growing pains due to skater turn-over. Sure, every league is evolving, becoming more productive and efficient (or at least trying to, I hope), but when the old meat leave, the league is left to skaters without the experience and knowledge to run the business. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Fresh perspectives are often what keeps the sport of roller derby moving forward.
I've seen so many skaters retire it's left my head spinning. They retire for a dozen different reasons (injury, life, can't commit, can't hack it, relocation, whatever). Prior to retiring I was one of the few skaters that had been on the league since it's inception (or near inception). Most of the women running the league had skated less than two years and hadn't experienced the growing pains I had. They, like me, want what's best for the league and sacrifice their time and relationships to make it happen. And like me, they will make mistakes with their leadership group and recover and learn from them. The problem, though, was that I couldn't seem to let them make their own mistakes. I couldn't sit back and not interject with "we can't have home teams because x, y, and z and here's all the research we did when we had this conversation five other times." They don't need Grandmother Roller Derby chiming in on everything they do. They are overworked and trying to do their best. Because I couldn't shut up, I decided it was best for me (and the league) to step away and let Maine Roller Derby become whatever it may.
The same goes for the Port Authorities. The team, like the league, is constantly evolving, but there's a lot of one step forward, two steps back. Almost yearly the team needs to be rebuilt. I had been part of this rebuilding every single time. Last year I wrote Tiny Team, Big Aspirations for Five on Five Magazine. I wrote about how the love of and loyalty for my team helped me push past the continuous growing pains. A year ago I meant every word of that. Today I don't have the heart to go through it again (the other reason why I needed to retire). I want to play roller derby with a team that challenges me. I want to bust my ass for playtime. I want to be scared that I might not be on the roster.
I realize that sounds absurd to any player who has felt the heartbreak of not making a team or the roster or having playtime, but that's not something I've ever experienced simply because my team is so small and needs decent players.
I quit my league for my own mental and emotional sanity. Don't get me twisted, though. I'm not saying anything negative about Maine Roller Derby or the women who run it. I love the league and want the best for everyone who is part of it. I just feel as though I've worn out my welcome. I understand I feel that way because I choose to feel that way, not because anyone is making me feel that way. I acknowledge that I need to deal with that (along with my inability to shut the fuck up) and move on.
I don't plan to retire from the sport of roller derby. I'll still be writing training manuals and derby books and guest coaching. And who knows? I might relocate and play for another team if they'll have me. If I've learned anything in life it's that everything can change in a moment's notice, just like in a roller derby jam. If I'm aware and I react and recover quickly, I might just win a jam or two in the bout of life. So yeah, I ain't done. I love winning too much.