1. Ashley (Volcanic ASH)


    This just brought me to tears. I rarely read blogs, but I was compelled to read every inch of this. I myself am struggling with the same issues, but in a different league, on a different track and in a different state. I want you to know that it was such a privilege to skate alongside of you, even if it was briefly. I love that you speak to what’s in my heart- you write what I can barely communicate to others. I look up to you as a writer and as a derby doll. Thank you thank you thank you.


  2. Heidi

    Good on you, Pamie. Best of luck for whatever’s next. And thank you for sharing so much with us about derby and the derby girls who have been so profound in making you who you are now.

    PS — Let’s see the hair!

  3. This made me cry real tears and mostly for things that haven’t happened yet.

    I think I tend to live and experience things in flash forward motion. When preparing to go on a long vacation, I inevitably dwell on how it will all zip past me, end abruptly, and leave me in a heap wondering if I’d even had the time to enjoy myself. Might as well have just stayed home. It’s like getting a dog and dwelling on the fact that in about 12 years it’s gonna be dead so why bother.

    I am already weeping for the time when I realize that I can’t physically do it anymore. Or when I don’t want to make time for it. Or when I get injured and think I’ve just seen my last jam. Or when I realize it’s just not in me and I can’t even make it through Fresh Meat.

    I feel madly in love with derby from the moment I saw it and knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. That this is what my life needed –what I needed. (“First person, present tense.”) Do things now. Enjoy them. Relish in them. Let them scare you. Let them change you for the better and the rest of the shit on the side doesn’t matter.

    Even though you are bowing out, I can see that the hard work (largely all undone at this point) will be worth it.

    I don’t know if I’ll get all I want out of derby, but I’m trying not to get ahead of myself anymore.

    • Michelle, I do the exact same thing — anxiety about the ends before they’ve even happened. I have that weird, “This might be the last thing you ever say to each other” moment just about every day with just about everyone I love. I always assumed it was from how many damn times I’ve had to say goodbye in my life, what with all the moving I’ve done.

      You’ll get all you want out of derby, no doubt. But you might surprise yourself just how long you’ll want it, and what you’ll do to stay with it.

  4. OMG! This is so bittersweet! I haven’t yet gotten to know you as well as I’d have liked, but through your writing I’ve really identified with you. Going in Circles and your blog very much spoke to me in a way that identified some parts of the journey I was going through; in derby and in life.

    I very much understand your leaving the sport. I went through a lot of those feelings early on in my derby career and know that I have an expiration date. I see it off in the distance. It feels far off, but also too close.

    I really wish you well. In some ways I’m jealous. We all sacrifice so much to do this.

    Now don’t be a stranger. wReck League. And post when you’re coming so we know to come out and bash you around, kay?

    Good luck!!!!

    • Penny!

      I really haven’t gotten the chance to tell you that you are without a doubt one of my favorite people I met in the past year. I’m flattered and honored you identified with me, and I’ve been so damn impressed with you ever since the first time I saw you, when I was taking pictures at your first VB bout and I turned to someone and asked, “Who IS that? She’s amazing!”

      I’m pretty sure I’ll find my way to wRECk League, because Tilda is bossy, but maybe I’ll be try to be like, drop-in DPV girl, if they’ll let me.

  5. Melanie

    Aw, Pamie. I know its hard to leave, but derby has lots of places for non-skaters. If it weren’t for you, I’d never have met any of the DC Rollergirls, or become a volunteer. My derby friends, by their very existence, are helping me through heartbreak, and as soon as I get the money for equipment (or, fingers crossed, a rookie package for christmas!) I’m gonna start skating and next year I’ll let you know how I made it into the meat locker and when I get drafted I’ll tell you about my team. I have a name picked out but not a number-can I honor May Q Holla by using yours?

    • Melanie, that is such a sweet honor. You just made me feel like an athlete! That never happens! Thank you. Since I know how hard it can be to get a number in a league, I’ll tell you that I’ve had two numbers: 140dB (which is the threshold of pain) and then I changed it to $50 (since that’s where the name comes from — “I need fifty dollas to make you holla.”)

      Please give the DC Rollergirls a hug for me. Badasses, one and all. Good luck getting your skates, and then kill it!

  6. Lee

    I usually write excessively, but this time I just want to say… You are so awesome, Pamie. In every way. Really.

  7. Getting misty-eyed reading this because of how beautifully you write about derby and it’s clear what a tough decision this was for you. I feel honored I got to take photos of you skating your last BDB and I hope we’ll still get to hang out at derby photo dinners sometime in the future. xoxox

    • Jessica, I have to say, I’ve found the only thing harder than roller derby is trying to take pictures of roller derby. That being said, I really like you guys and I’ve so enjoyed hanging out with you this year, so I’m going to try to keep taking pics at the bouts when I can, if that’s okay. (Jeez, I hope I get better at it.)

    • Thank you. I’m happy to have inspired you, and I’m grateful to have helped the ones who would never go anywhere near a derby track at least understand why we would put ourselves through this. Sending love and bruises to you.

  8. Been re-reading Going in Circles on my phone recently and enjoying the derby stuff immensely. I can feel how much you love it…in the book and in this post. Sorry you’re having to retire but so glad you found a team sport you could love. There’s nothing like it.

  9. I quit derby a few years ago now, and it often still feels as though I just left. That shit sticks with you. But in a good way. I miss it sometimes, but I haven’t lost it–it is, honest to God, responsible for who I am today.

    It wouldn’t be inappropriate for us to still get ROLLERGIRLS4LYFE tats on our abs, is what I’m saying, if you’re interested in that. If you aren’t interested I was just kidding.

  10. Holla, I am so honored to have skated with you and learned so much from my short time with you. You are the kind of pivot I want to be someday. To comeback from an injury and prove to yourself that you could do it, better than skating on a team anyday. (unless of course it is Spiked Punch). Love, Star

    • Star, this is so sweet. Thank you. I hope you’re feeling settled in at your new track and you’re reaching all of your derby goals like lightning. You’ve made a good point here about coming back from an injury, and one I wasn’t really thinking about. I appreciate the reminder. SP forever.

  11. Shawn

    Pamie, you were very helpful and supportive to me when I reached out to you by email during a time when I was trying to decide whether I had it in me to fully commit to derby.

    I know how hard it had to be to make the decision to quit but I respect that you went back after your injury. It helps me to remember that much of the time, the only thing keeping me from achieving the goals that I set for myself are the obstacles I put in my way. It is far better to make the effort than wonder what would have happened if I had.

    Thank you for sharing your derby experience with the world. I am sorry that I never had the chance to see you skate!

    • Thanks, Shawn! I hope you’ve found the answers you were looking for. It’s true, sometimes we are our own worst obstacle. It’s just we’re so good at coming up with excuses!

  12. Hellcat13

    Aw, Pamie, you break my heart. I have no words of wisdom or sage advice, but I have sympathy and understanding. I’ve played hockey for a few years at the top level in our league, and I’m at the point where it’s time to start dropping down into the less competitive divisions. The up-and-coming girls are popping into our league straight out of university hockey, having been coached all their lives, and we older girls can’t compete anymore.

    I love that your sport seems to be following my sport – as it gains in popularity, it’s getting more and more competitive and the skill level is getting so much better. It makes me happy for the future, for the young girls I see walking into the rink. They have a bright future and something to aspire to. But it’s hard for those of us who came before to recognize our limitations and to listen to our bodies. It hurts, and I don’t mean physically.

    You’ll always be my derby idol – everything I do on the ice, you do on a track with a quarter of the safety gear. You’re a bad-ass chick.

    • The day I learned they had lowered our league’s age from 21 to 18 I was like, “Aaaaaand it’s time for me to move aside.” I think you’re right — hockey and derby follow a lot of the same trajectories and have similar stereotypes and obstacles — and both require the same kind of determined bruiser to play them. You’re definitely my hockey idol. If they had that here… oh, man.

  13. I am sad for you, Pamie, because it’s hard when something is over. I just wanted to say that you have inspired me to say yes to more things. Not derby, because I am a delicate southern flower. But saying yes to things that have challenged me to learn about my strength in other ways. So thank you for that.

    • Thank you. That really means a lot because sometimes I wonder if the non-derby people are just thinking, “When is this woman going to come to her senses? She’s is a COMEDY WRITER. Get back on the keyboard and type FADE IN immediately! Quit wasting our time with your hobbies!”

      • Kiran

        Inspiration is still inspiration no matter what it’s dressed as! Sure, some of us couldn’t relate *directly* to your derby experiences, but reading between the lines we absolutely could.

  14. sonnie

    I left derby around 2008/2009 and it was one of the hardest decisions that I had to make. I felt like I was going through a divorce or perhaps jonesing from a bad habit. It was so hard.

    Some days, I wish I were still doing it. Some days, it’s better to just relive the memories with my ex-derby/lifelong friends.

    Don’t let dust collect on those skates, though. It’s still great exercise. :)

    • I think I’m always going to miss it. But last night it finally hit home that I was stepping back, and I wept like a little girl leaving Disneyland.

  15. Jennifer

    Pamie, you were doing something that is extraordinarily hard on the body. Sooner or later everybody is going to have to do it, you know? And after a major injury, well… you’re going through the same thing the pros are, I think. I was amazed that you were able to go back to derby at all after that. The reason I’d never do roller derby (besides never having any coordination on skates in my life) is fear of injury, and you by god got over that one, didn’t you? You’re very brave there.

    Some things just have to happen sometimes even if you don’t like ’em, though. I’m sorry you had to leave, but at least you got some awesome things while you were there.

    • Thank you. I have joints that will never be the same, so it’s not like I’m going to ever forget that I played derby! I probably won’t be mad about it until I’m 73 and picking up pieces of hip that crumbled in my sleep.

  16. Don

    Once again beautifully written. Sorry this chapter is over but I’m sure you’ll be letting us in on the next adventure soon enough. Stay Gold!!

    Also let’s see some pics of the new hair! I’m sure it’s stunning!!

  17. Trixie Biscuit

    I figured this was coming but I’m still sad to see it happen. You’re invited to train the Juniors any time you want. I hope I still get to see you, whether at the track or elsewhere.

  18. Trixie Biscuit

    P.S. Do you have your scuba certification yet? Because that’s totally going to be my next project post-derby.

    • Okay, I kind of have a fear of being that deep under water, which means… Trixie, I’m sure I’ll try it with you, but man. I’m going to be crying! I cry going through the shark tank tunnel at Sea World. But…you have no idea how much I’ve been thinking about trying some aerial classes.

      And thank you for the juniors invite. I did enjoy that very much. I may take you up on that.

      But if I could create my own LADD role it would be “Fresh Meat Mentor.” I love watching a new skater go from, “Excuse me, Holla, can you show me how you did that?” to “Holla, I’m in subpool!” After all these years? It’s happened quite a bit. Fresh Meat is my favorite, because every day someone’s having another victory.

    • PS: I copied your Phyllis picture and I have it on my cell phone. I play a game called, “Which one is Trixie?” So far nobody’s gotten it right.

      • Trixie Biscuit

        I am conflicted as to how I should feel about that. Though if it keeps getting me paid, I’m all for it.

  19. Pamie, your book (and you!) came to me when I most needed it–the courage you had to take on derby gave me some of my own to take on cancer. While derby still scares the shit out of me, I now find it fascinating and empowering; in the back of my mind I think “someday…” where I used to think “never!” Maybe my roller derby will be something less dangerous, like ultimate fighting or lion-taming. Whatever it is, you will have helped me get there. I thank you, and I hope I do you proud. I commend your courage in making the decision to quit derby too. Someday I might even forgive you for making me cry WITH EVERY SINGLE THING YOU WRITE. ;) xoxo –Jen

  20. Damn girl. I’m sorry to see you go.

    Secret – whenever I’d look back and see you on the jammer line I’d think, “oh shit.” because even when you were jamming, you could still knock the shit out of all of us.

    Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us – it was truly an honor.

    One day we will have a photo dinner reunion that doesn’t involve you looking for a dog that wasn’t missing. :)

  21. I remember feeling like that after quitting soccer. I played for 10 years, but increasingly felt like I just didn’t want to be a part of it anymore. I was so conflicted about “quitting”, but it really came down to that one sentence: I just didn’t want to do it anymore. And once I realized that, then okay! On to the next thing. And I don’t regret it at all. I also chopped off all my hair too, and kept it that way for ten years – if that happens to you, hope your mom can get used to it!

  22. saro

    I had super short hair when I graduated from college and my mom asked if she could paste two long curls on each side of my cap. For the pictures, you know.

    It sounds like you’ve given voice to the passion of derby and it’ll be part of you forever. Which is beautiful and awesome.

  23. Infinite Pest

    I’m not going to lie. I’ve been putting off reading this because I am sad that you’re not there at practice anymore. I felt like if I didn’t read it it wouldn’t be true, because here’s the truth: you make me smile, and you make me laugh and just being there with you sometimes makes what feels like torture, feel more fun.

    That being said, who understands more than a derby girl the reasons to leave derby. It’s hell on the body, it’s time-consuming, sometimes it really sucks, and I get it entirely.

    I just want to say that skating with you has been some of the most fun I’ve had while playing derby. Being the wall to end all walls was just the best thing ever and getting to watch you and all your talent and be a part of a team with you is something that I’ll treasure for my derby career. Probably longer.

    It’s been a blast Holla. Don’t be a stranger.

    Much love,

    P.S. You made me cry dammit!

    • Pesty, I’m going to miss skating with you so much. I can’t even tell you how many times I was like, “Ugh, I can’t make it another second” and then you’d say something funny or just give me That Look and I was laughing around my mouthguard and able to finish the drill. I think that time we had to wheelbarrow pyramid together made us some kind of sisters for life. Thank you for being the one who always made me find a few more minutes inside me. I know we often told each other, “You’re my hero,” but I really mean it when I say you got me through a lot of hard moments these past few months, with both your humor and your grace, and I don’t know that you would’ve have known that if I didn’t say it right now. So thank you.

      • Infinite Pest

        That drill definitely cemented something. And every time I don’t wear pants, I think of you (that’s not as naughty as it sounds).

        But I can categorically say that you make me laugh harder than almost anyone, especially when I’m feeling on the verge of death. Thanks for the good times Holla. You will be very sorely missed (and I hope you’ll be around so much I won’t have to miss you).

  24. Brandee

    Aw, man! You were part of the inspiration for me even thinking about derby. I’ve followed the blog & read your book, and something grabbed me. I’m at the beginning if the obsession, and haven’t even figured out where & when I’m going to try out. To read this lovely post created such emotion. To see how big a part of your life derby is, and to read that you are finally ready to step away is giving me pause. I am older than you, and need a lot of work before I even consider skating on a track. Many of the “bad” things are things I hadn’t even begun to consider.

    I am going to have to do a lot of thinking about this.

    I know that I can do it; but, I have a ridiculously long road ahead of me.

    Do keep writing…I have always enjoyed your blog. And, thank you for sharing such a heartfelt post, even if it was received in a different way than you had perhaps intended.

  25. You kept me from quitting many times when I wanted to for the wrong reasons. Now I realize there’s a difference between quitting and just plain leaving when the time is right. Thanks for sharing this and for keeping my head and heart in the right places all the times we skated together (and even the times we skated against!). Love.

    • Anya,

      I have so many fond derby memories of skating with you. From my initial deep intimidation of you, to that day you taught me how to get over backwards skating by holding my hands, I can’t imagine having gone through some of my more trying derby times without your class and humor. PS: I love your art and can’t wait until the stars align and I proudly hang something of yours on my wall.

  26. Pamie,

    I’m a little late to the party (derby keeps me too busy to read my favorite blogs as often as I want to!). I’ve been struggling with my relationship to roller derby too. I shattered my leg ten months ago at practice, came back, tore my meniscus, came back, had a seizure on the track. When I broke my leg I developed a blood clot and it almost killed me, and then I found out I have a clotting disorder and shouldn’t play contact sports, so I switched to reffing. But it’s hard: I feel like the relationship with the team isn’t the same, I never got into this to ref, I’ve always been more of a rule-breaker than a rule-enforcer, etc.

    Derby is tough, it takes everything you have to give it. But it’s also something I wouldn’t have traded for anything, whether I stick it out through this rough spot or not. It changed my life profoundly. Being in roller derby helped me get up the strength to come out of the closet. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t joined, but there’s no way I would be this at peace with myself. There’s just nothing I would trade this for.

    I got into derby because I heard about it from you. So you had a direct impact on the life of one out and proud homo, and I’ll always carry love in my heart for you for that reason, even if I’m never lucky enough to meet you.

    Hugs and Stitches,

    • Ru,

      You brought me to tears. Thank you. I’m honored to have been any part of some of the best parts of your life. Also, I’m glad you didn’t die on the track, because that might have been my fault, too.

      Can you please email me your mailing address? Not for stalking; I’d like to send a little thank you.

  27. The former Hazel Smut Crunch

    I walked away from derby after two and a half years of giving it everything I had. Derby made me a stronger, smarter, tougher person…but a year and a half ago I knew I didn’t want to do it any more. I love the life I have now, and wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for derby. As much as I loved the post-bout shower and the parking lot talks after practice, now I love waking up pain-free and having people in meetings with me all know my real name. Good luck in your post-derby adventures.

  28. Shawn

    Hi Pamie — just thought I would give you an update and let you know that I passed assessments and start Fresh Meat training in December.

    Thank you again for all of your encouraging words! I still go back to them whenever I need a reminder to stay focused and stop listening to the voice that tells me I can’t.

    Nervous and excited about this new adventure.

    Hope you are well!

  29. JDubz

    I’m a little late to this (and everything else–who the hells starts skating at 43?), but you should consider starting a Derby Lite franchise out there. A retired Windy City Roller founded it in the Chicago area cuz she missed derby but couldn’t afford the time commitment or injury risk of full-contact competition. So it’s derby skills as fun workout and scrimmaging using positional blocking, etc. And now it’s branching out to other cities.

    Oh, and I’m not getting paid to plug them. I’m just a middle-aged dork (and fan) who also never “got” team sports and lists her crowning athletic achievement as that time she tripped in her living room and broke her fifth metatarsal but not the beer bottle in hand.

    Then I discovered Derby Lite nd my transformation to annoying derbyvangelist is apparently complete since the only two things falling from my lips these days are “DERRBEEE” and drool.

    Anyhow, because I’m old and broken-bodied yet new to the only sport I mighta ever loved, your post made me cry. So I’m saying it: Noooooo! You don’t have to call off the jam completely!
    check it: derbylite.net


    Not So Fresh Meat

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