Taking off my skates for the last time

I’ve decided the time has come to retire from active refereeing within roller derby.

I have had a brilliant time over the last eight years.

I have met some of the most brilliant people, including my husband-to-be. I have travelled the world and I have seen too many sports halls to count.

I have managed to make it this far without what you would consider “an injury”, because none of the injuries I have had have been on skates.

In keeping with the ridiculousness of having to stop skating competitively because I smashed my teeth in on holiday – I am having to stop being a skating official because I over did it in the gym and my ankle won’t heal if I keep skating.

Less of a “going out with a bang” more of a disappointing fizzle of a firework with no explosion at the end.

To be fair, the timing is perfect. Where my life is right now, this is exactly the right time to call this a day. But I’m not sure I would be where I am now if it wasn’t for roller derby.

I started skating in September 2007 as a way to keep my best mate happy, honestly. I was the league Captain because I was the mouthiest. I was overweight but happy. I wasn’t massively into skating. I picked horrid league uniforms.

I moved to Newcastle in 2009 and joined the Newcastle Roller Girls. It was about this time that roller derby saved my soul. Everyone has their own version of this story, right? I was in an abusive relationship. I didn’t really realise it at the time, but when it became so clear that I had to chuck my clothes in an IKEA bag and run… roller derby was there for me. It picked me up. It kept me busy. It surrounded me with love, challenge, health and fitness. I was allowed to cry but also encouraged to move on. And I did.

I spent one year getting my life back together, and the following year having the time of my life… all the time with roller derby at the very centre of it.

In July 2012 I decided to take up reffing and started this blog. I was sad that having knocked out two teeth I couldn’t do contact for three months. I intending to just skate around the outside of the game I had loved for years. Not wanting to let go, but knowing I couldn’t be a part of it. I had no idea what reffing would be like. I had no idea my three months would lead to three years.

I have had larger successes in reffing than I ever would have had on track. I was a good skater. But I wouldn’t have made it to the world cup. To TWO world cups.

I am glad that at this point I still have a lot of fondness for the game and the people in it. So much so that I am going to continue with the admin roles I do within derby until I’m completely ready to let go.

You may not know but I have taken on a role within WFTDA heading up a committee focussing on diversity and inclusion… and I’ll be fucked if I leave this sport without making a positive change in the way women are seen within officiating.

So thank you to everyone that got me here. Thank you to Natalie Boxall for being The One.

To Sniper, Fritha, Brie and Kalamity for their spare rooms, spare clothes, and extra plates of food when I needed them.

To Cherry, Duncan, Sven, Metal Ed, Trav and Big Smack for the support and encouragement you gave me to make the move into stripes.

To the people I have relied upon to keep me sane when skaters refuse to believe they just cut track… when they cut THEIR ENTIRE GOD DAMN WHOLE TEAM  *breathes*. It’s been a funny old ride. But I’m glad I did it.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.