Roller Derby... why do I do it...
I may have mentioned before my interest in Roller Derby and my involvement with a local team as an NSO (None Skating Official). But how did this all start and why do I still do it?
Over a year ago a friend who initially skated with the Hellfire Harlots asked if I'd like to come along to practise, mainly to keep her then boyfriend company (he was the only one there not skating) and I already knew one or two of the team. Shortly after I was coming to session of my own accord, helping out in any way I could and making a ton of new friends along the way. The social aspect is key here. I've made a huge number of friends through Roller Derby, some becoming great friends outside of practise and one becoming much more than that. But what do I do at a practise session exactly and why do I keep going?
NSOs are a blend of a lines men and a roadie. We're setting up the track and tidying it away, making sure all kit for training is out and ready, keeping track of paperwork regarding penalties and score from any practise scrim or bout. Basically anything that needs sorting that can be done off skates, NSOs get it done. So this does sound a bit like house keeping, like I'm the team's care taker sweeping up after everyone has gone home. And yes at time it feels like that, like I'm just a cog in this great big Roller Derby machine that's taking a bunch of skaters and turning them into this killer team of Derby girls. But at the same time, there needs to be this cog, doing it part so that the whole can function smoothly.
So the job part isn't an issue, if I skated I'd be expected to maintain my skates, give 100% at every practise and do my best to maintain my personal fitness. But I have on many occasions questioned why I still even go. It's seven hours out of my week in total for the three main practises (two week evening and a Sunday). All the other guys at practise skate, they're all in relationships and their partner skates on the team (so Derby is another thing they do together) I'm single and off-wheels, so there's no connection to the team there. After setting up everything at the start of the session, I basically have to wait till the end to tidy everything away again. If it wasn't for our Head NSO being at practise I'd go stir crazy as there'd be no one to chat or interact with (who wasn't whizzing round the track on skates) This does sound a little whiny, but I have honestly asked myself 'why am I doing all of this?'
It sounds stupid, but sometimes all it takes is for someone at practise to say an honest thanks for doing my NSO duties, it means a lot to me. I'm fortunate to see skaters develop and grow in skill, a unique view point on their evolution as Roller Derby players. And the people I have met through this sport, who I've connected so well with I couldn't imagine not being friends with them, if it wasn't for Roller Derby, I don't think I'd have ever met. Would certainly have made Christmas a more lonely experience.
In short, I have much to thank Roller Derby for. So I guess I'll carry on being the best damn NSO I can be. And maybe one day I'll see what its like to skate again. Maybe.