It was a hard thing when my teammate Crystal Deth retired in 2008. I had spent most of the season benched with a grade 3 ankle sprain, and during that time, I watched her game improve dramatically. I liked to think that she was skating for both of us, but in reality, she was just pissed. She hadn't made the all-star team that season and had something to prove. So, Crystal stepped it up -- attending extra practices, cross-training and thinking more strategically. Her skating jumped to another level -- a deer on wheels leaping over fallen bodies.
Ankle mended, I was able to skate with my team that fall. Then Crystal dropped the R-Bomb in December. I couldn't believe it. Quit now? She'd been on fire, and I loved skating with her because we always pushed each other to work harder. But she was quitting while she was ahead, and years later, I've come to appreciate that decision.
Photo By 3D Sean.
A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by a subpooler (in LADD, a subpooler is a skater who isn't yet on a team, but may be asked to "sub" for an injured team skater during a game. To be in subpool is to be in roller derby limbo).
"I heard you're retiring," she said. "I can't believe it! You still have so much skate in you." Maybe so, I thought, but I'd like to keep some "skate" in reserve -- not leave roller derby depleted, exhausted and washed-up.
My leaguemates have surprised me with their support and kindness these last few weeks and it's been emotionally overwhelming. It hasn't made saying goodbye any easier, but it completely reinforces what an incredible, meaningful experience these past seven years on skates has been.
Some other reactions to retirement:
Tawdry Tempest (Fight Crew, retired 2009): "I've never looked back."
Queen Elizadeath (Varsity Brawlers): "What are you going to do with your skates?" (for the record, I have some very bad-ass skates into which QED's feet would fit nicely. Apologies to QED and other small-footed derby girls -- I can't part with them!)
P.I.T.A. (Sirens): "I just want you to know that you and Crystal Deth were such an inspiration to me when I first started Fresh Meat."
Bonnie D.Stroir (Swarm, OG Derby Doll who is "taking a break" after this season): "You're not really retiring, right? You're just taking a break."
Tawdry Tempest (a couple of weeks following her previous comment): "Guess I shoulda worked my retirement like you."
Thora Zeen (league co-founder, former Siren, and one of my all-time favorite skaters): "It's about time!"