It was lazy evening about three years ago when my wife and I decided to watch the film “Whip It”, particularly because my wife is a big fan of Drew Barrymore. Throughout the movie, I could see that my wife was thoroughly entertained, but there was something else lurking behind her visage. Little did I realize that watching that movie would change our lives forever.
In the days that followed we did a little research and I mentioned to her that Melbourne had its own roller derby league. She was surprised and excited, so we made plans to attend a bout. Being the newbies that we were, we decided to simply drive down to the venue to purchase tickets at the door. When we arrived, it was a line up of about 100 people and it was raining. At the ticket counter, we learned that some bouts sell out several days in advance so we should get in early.
The event itself was memorable. The game actually moved slower than I had expected. Having grown up in the ‘80s, I was exposed to vintage roller derby with banked tracks and brawling babes. This however was something much different. It was more serious, and more strategic. And while at first I was disappointed at the lack of spectacle, I began to appreciate it for what it was… a sport. After the bout, my bride talked incessantly about derby, and how she’d like to look into joining such a league. The next several months involved looking up areas near us, training sessions, try-outs, rejection, skate purchases, bearing purchases, more try-outs, wheel purchases, eventually culminating in her attaining fresh meat status for the South Sea Roller Derby league. It has been a whirlwind of emotions that had flung our lives around for now nearly a year before she finally reached the point she is now “Red Star”.
Kaylie has always been confident and straight-speaking; two traits of many which I admire most about her. So this transformation into derby didn’t necessarily build confidence in her, but rather, it gave her purpose. She had finally found an activity which she was deeply passionate about, (besides me of course). To be honest, I find it extremely fun to watch and we both also got some very nice friends out of it. Amidst the noise surrounding this new venture, her skating and derby skills are beginning to improve a lot. I can still recall the day when she came home from practice to tell me that she finally (and suddenly) figured out how to do the turn around toe-stop.
We both still go to other bouts, either in a NSO (Non-skating Official) capacity or as a spectator, and we still get joy from the sport. So be it Blockbird 45rpm, Kaylie, or my darling wife, she has become the person that’s always been lurking beneath her surface, waiting to show the world what she can do. I’m so proud of her and and so begins our derby life.