Last year, PLAYER 1 from Vancouver’s Terminal City All Stars (who incidentally is skating under her real name this season, Germaine Koh) wrote an incredibly poignant article about roller derby and her thoughts on aging. She was about to turn 45 when she wrote it. Her original post can be found on her Facebook page here within a status update posted Aug. 28, 2012.
Go read it… I’ll wait right here.
Koh hits the nail on the head in her article. Her athlete insights are not only for all athletes, but I see it as a life cycle of what every skater evolves through from when they join as fresh meat to when they are considering an exit strategy of their own. Taking it a step further, as derby evolves, I see many skaters go through life cycles encompassing those insights within each step of evolution.
This June I turn 40, which isn’t particularly old for me. I think my body performs better than the average 40-year-old and my mind is definitely younger. When I started this journey back in March 2010, I was 36 and had it set in my mind I would stick it out until I turned 40 and then maybe do ‘something else.’ I’m sort of holding true to that transition, as I won’t be running for a league board position after three years of commitment to those duties. But as for skating and playing, I’m in a little bit of a conundrum.
It’s obvious to me I’ve moved through many of the points in Koh’s article and I feel like I’m on exit strategy but I’m not ready to quit yet.
From the time I joined roller derby to now, the sport has undergone multiple transitions. Its insane growth has changed the rules, strategy and fitness expectations. In the last year Canada achieved its own ranking system and are hosting its first national tournament this year based on regional playoffs (which I had the honour of playing in and getting my ass hit by Player 1 and her counterparts last summer LOL).
Within those transitions, skaters have evolved multiple times as well. Starting from cut t-shirt uniforms and going out for beers after practice, many are now in wicking performance gear and drinking protein shakes. The evolution seems to happen overnight. It’s like a lightbulb turns on and a skater changes how they are training or performing, as if they were reborn.
So for me, I feel I’m simply at the end of a cycle within my overall roller derby life cycle. My existing light bulb is about to burn out and another is about to burn bright.
I truly believe that ‘something else‘ I committed to 3 years ago is still going to be roller derby, just birthed into something new. And when I figure out what that something new is, I’m sure I’ll work through and learn from many of Koh’s insights again. “I’m not just going to let that river of time take me where it will.” I get to choose my next path and that’s really exciting.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has experienced life cycles within roller derby. I’d love to hear your stories.