By Courtney Downing
Ahem: Dang! She Fine #369
For the past 18 years of my life, I was someone who lacked a place to call home. Don’t worry – no tragic backstory, just a daughter of a guy in the Navy. We bounced around every 2-3 years, and although I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything, the constant mix up of friends and environment left me longing for something stable.
*Enter Roc City Roller Derby*
To say that playing with this league has influenced everything about me would be an understatement. This league made up of some of the most incredible people I’ve come to know, has done nothing but motivate and inspire me from day one. It has completely changed my mentality, physical state, and personal outlook all in a matter of two and a half years. It’s influenced how I perceive myself, my abilities and my accomplishments - perceptions that I’ve been able to apply to my everyday life.
Mentally, your girl here struggles to feel great sometimes. This crazy “life” thing we all do? Yeah, it gets really hard sometimes, and it was easy for me to beat myself up, until RCRD came around. My coaches have taught me that you often have to adjust your idea of an accomplishment and beating yourself up gets you nowhere but a trip to the penalty box. Messing up often has suddenly become okay, not getting things the first, or second, or third, or fifteenth time it is explained to me is just a part of the learning process. And no matter how terrible you think you are doing, someone else is always right there to tell you how incredible you look.
This brings me to my next point: The Freaking People
How is it possible that my teammates have found the perfect balance between challenge and support when everywhere else has yet to do that is beyond me. But, trust me when I say, this little fish in a mighty big pond is forever grateful for it. It’s easy to feel as though you aren’t doing enough all the time in every capacity and as a result wanting to change everything about yourself. I felt this way so much that when my teammates introduced the radical idea that I was good enough for them as is I was floored. Everyone at RCRD accepts you just as you are, no questions asked – they actually WANT you to be yourself. This welcoming mentality is something I only wish I could have had during my deployments, and the fact that I have a group of people who truly accept my personality and body just as it is means more than I could describe in what was supposed to be a “2-3 paragraphs long” blog post.
RCRD made me realize my body’s capabilities, my underlying physical and mental strength, and has boosted my confidence all the while giving me a new standard to rise to. Trust me when I say there’s no shortage of inspiration in this league, and watching my team grow and develop motivates me to train harder. I go to the gym so that I can play competitively alongside my teammates at the level that we want to play at. I do gross gym bro things like drink protein shakes and lift now because my whole team drinks protein shakes and lifts now because we’re all trying to push ourselves up the rankings. They’re setting the standard for what a competitive athlete looks like and trying to keep up with them is my motivation for doing stuff I otherwise wouldn’t do (looking DIRECTLY at you, protein shakes).
oc City has given me a track to call home and teammates to call family. They all push me to do better while still accepting me exactly as I am. This league is a healthy, competitive atmosphere full of unconditional support and constant motivation. Out of the 18 years filled with 8 deployments to 7 different states, I have yet to find a group of people like my teammates, coaches, refs, NSO’s, and volunteers at RCRD. Roc City has given me the security and the safety (ironically enough, with it being roller derby and all) that I’ve always wanted, so yeah, I think it’s safe to say it’s been a pretty big influence for me.