Erica Olmstead, A.K.A. “SkinHer Box,” is among the members of the North Country Lumber Jills roller derby team preparing for a bout against the Twin City Riots Saturday, Oct. 29.
When many of us first joined roller derby, we were told that it was not a question of “if” we would get hurt but rather a question of “when.”
I interpreted this to mean bruises, fishnet burns and at worst a bruised tailbone. Serious injuries were reserved for serious athletes and I had never viewed myself as an athlete, let alone a serious one. Throughout my life, I previously had a fairly well-established sense of invincibility. I had never had a bee sting or a bloody nose. I got into a car crash my freshmen year of college, ricocheted off of a guard rail into the opposite field, and walked away with a mild headache. I had never seen the inside of an ER, let alone an OR. I had never had stitches, let alone a titanium plate and six screws drilled into my leg. I had never broken a bone; that is, until I played roller derby.
That fateful prophecy came true for me at a bout in Utica when my body turned one way and one skate simply didn’t follow. I had a spiral fracture of the fibula and managed to tear a ligament in my foot so forcefully that it popped off a piece of my ankle bone. It wasn’t until I arrived home that night in a cast and had to hoist myself backwards up a flight of 15 stairs that I realized the severity of what I had done. I quickly realized that I am not invincible.
Over the next few months, there were a series of low points: using a bedpan, needing my dad to shave my leg for me, bathing sitting upright in a lawn chair wrapped in trash bags, to name a few. When I filled friends and family in on what had happened, they interpreted my story as a cautionary tale and were flabbergasted when they realized that I was not done with roller derby. I was not even close. I wanted to skate.
The team is gearing up for its first home bout Saturday, Oct. 29, at the City of Plattsburgh Recreation Center against the Twin City Riots, a team from Barre, Vt.