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.
As the EMT assessed my ankle in Utica, I remember begging him to let me skate, insisting that the pain had passed and I “felt so much better” because I refused to accept that I was out of commission for our first bout, a feat we had worked towards for over a year. I’ve heard the same story in different words from so many injured skaters. We walk (or crutch) into physical therapy demanding to know the exercises that will get us into a pair of skates the fastest. We struggle to balance pushing our limits and also allowing our bodies to heal. We count down the days, weeks or months until we can skate again like we are waiting for Christmas.
For me, lacing up a pair of skates felt like coming home. Sure, I was terrified. I was drenched in sweat before I even stood up. But the second I skated my first lap, I felt better than I had in months. I love roller derby, and with true love comes risks. I may not be invincible, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind that roller derby is worth the risk. Roller derby has given me so much more than it has ever taken, even now. It has given me a confidence I never had; it has taught me to challenge myself and to never give up, especially when I want to the most. It has given me a family of strong women who I respect infinitely.
Eventually, I will walk away from roller derby, and when I do, it may be with an occasional limp; but I will walk away one hundred times stronger than I was when I arrived.
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.