Calling Off the Jam

This weekend my league is holding try-outs for subpool, the tiny team of no-longer-rookies who practice with the team skaters and sub on bouts in hopes of getting drafted to a team. It only happens about twice a year. It’s the first time there have been try-outs since I came back to derby last winter.

I didn’t sign up.

I’m not really one for announcing things, particularly right at their very start. Perhaps it’s from years of Hollywood almosts, where I’ve found myself shouting, “This is happening! Wait! No, now it’s not anymore! Sorry! Go back to what you were doing!” I tend to wait now until I really, really, really know it’s happening.

This isn’t just in my work-life. I’m this way in my personal life, as well. I’d rather you asked in three months why I look like I’ve lost weight, and then I’ll be more than happy to tell you all about this thing I was doing that worked. But if I was posting pictures on the Internet and blogging about some new exercise routine or diet, it feels like I’m just setting myself up for a lot of public failure. I didn’t tell too many people when I started roller derby for the same reason. What if I only did it for a week?

When you first start roller derby, particularly for the first six months or so, it’s all-consuming, and the temptation is to tell everyone all the time about every aspect of this new, exciting life you’ve got and all these friends you made and how exhausted you are from the commitment, and you show off your bruises and you basically become a person who can only communicate using two syllables: der and bee.

Because of this “jumped in” feeling once you’ve joined this world, it can become a huge decision to leave it. To even take a break from it. You guys, I tore a ligament in my knee and I still went back. If you’d asked me ten years ago if I’d ever go back to a place where I once lost the ability to walk for six weeks and be unable to crawl for seven months, I’d tell you that you have the wrong person in the first place because I don’t play team sports. I was, however, fully indoctrinated in the other cult of my life — a comedy troupe — and no doubt if I somehow shattered my tibia during a particularly rowdy rendition of “Party Quirks” (which, given my propensity in the moment to forget that even though I was given “Kerry Strug” I wasn’t actually a sixty-three-pound gymnast, was actually more than a little possible) I would have been right back on that stage pushing myself in one of those one-legged rolly-carts. (The comedy troupe would have delighted in having an actual gimpy girl in the troupe, because they were going to tell those jokes anyway, most likely about me.)

But I came back to derby at the end of last year because after all the book-touring, after meeting all those derby girls all over this country, I missed it. Much like when some of you other women decide to go ahead and have a second child grow inside your body and then fight its way out, I’d forgotten how much time it took out of my life, how much it hurt, how much it took over my entire body and schedule and required visits to the doctor and special equipment and advice from seemingly everybody and you stop caring about things like your nails and your clothes get simplified and suddenly one drawer in your dresser has outfits in only two colors.

I came back with the renewed interest that is important to make it through fresh meat. I had to try-out again because I’d been injured long enough that I had to start over. And I didn’t really write too much about it because I write about derby a lot, but what’s happening to me on my track is a little more personal. It would feel like telling you what I did when I went to the gym. But I came back feeling stronger, feeling better, and had a fantastic time meeting a mostly all new-to-me group of Fresh Meat girls, and I skated in another Baby Doll Brawl and then they moved subpool try-outs to three months later than they were originally scheduled and things started to fall apart.

I could list a million excuses here (I’m very work-busy and often prefer to write at night and on weekends, Sara moved to New York and a lot of my other derby friends have long since dropped out, it hurts more than it used to, at my last practice a girl broke her foot and I feel like it was maybe my fault, I don’t feel ready, I don’t feel like a strong enough skater to make a team, I like my non-derby schedule, etc.), but every single one of those excuses comes out of guilt. I feel guilty for leaving derby, so I’ve left it the same way I came in: like a secret. Most people don’t know how I mostly snuck into Fresh Meat three years and some change ago. I was just there and now I’m just not.

I had a feeling my time skating was coming to an end about two months ago, but I didn’t tell anyone. Word spreads too quickly, and I didn’t want to become either an invisible skater (“She’s basically on her way out”) nor someone who needed saving. I wasn’t one hundred percent sure I wanted to stop, but I knew if I told anybody I was thinking about it, it could become A Thing. It’s only now that people are starting to notice. For the first time ever I didn’t make my attendance requirements. I’m having to make the transition from a skater in training to a skater in retirement, one who can play pick-up scrimmages in our wRECk league, but no more.

I could tell that I wasn’t as good as I’d been a few months earlier. And that feeling of getting worse instead of getting better (and by that I mean my recovery from injuries was taking longer, my steps were getting slower, my endurance was getting worse even when I was training harder) made me feel like an aging boxer or something. I’d never thought about my age as a limit before. Never. But there were times when I’d look next to me and see a girl in her mid-twenties and I’d just think, “I wish I got to start this when I was her age.” Because — and here’s what it all comes down to —

I don’t think I want to play full-contact sports anymore.

A million excuses, a million reasons, but when I made myself answer a simple question: “Do you want to keep doing this?” that was the only answer.

The only person who’s really going to be celebrating the end of my playing roller derby is my mother. But I’ve got a surprise for her. Before she can dance too hard and cheer too loudly, I’ve already set up her disappointment for the next couple of years: I cut off my hair. That’s right, I got the derby haircut after I stopped skating. (Helmets cause breakage.) The last time I cut it this short she never saw me without asking right off the bat how much longer I thought it would take before it grew out to something she’d like again. It caused her to say the now famous: “It’s just that this haircut makes your head look like a little girl. Like you’ve got a girl head on a woman’s body.”

Big life changes call for big hair changes. It’s easier to move forward when there’s lots of change in the air, when everything feels different.

If you can’t tell by now, it’s difficult for me to leave derby behind. So I did lots of things I wanted to do before I left the building. I helped set-up the new track. I helped with junior derby camp and got really excited about the future of roller derby. Those girls are going to take this sport to the next level. They’re the ones who will turn this from an underground, sometimes campy, extreme female sport to simply: another sport. One that has players and fans and sponsors and leagues and championships and you can find it on television and you can go to college on scholarship with it and you can learn to play it when you’re seven and you can keep playing it until your RoboKnees Dual-Action Quad-Grip Version 2.27 get rusty. Then I knew I had to write this entry, which I’ve also been putting off. Because now it’s real. Now it’s the announcement. When I hit “publish,” I’ll have told you, and that means I’ve taken a very real step away from that life. And it makes me really sad. I have tears right now, because I keep thinking back to the girl I was when I started out, when I first stepped onto that track, and how different I am now because of it.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been skating derby for six years or six weeks. Once you’ve done it, leaving it makes you ask yourself a lot of questions. Maybe because it’s so hard, maybe because it’s filled with women who want to talk to you all the time about everything you’re feeling, or maybe because in the end it’s all about what you can give it, and then somehow managing to give it way more than that. There are few things in life that can be so instantly rewarding, so personal and yet so universal.

It’s hard not to feel like a quitter. It’s hard not to feel like I’m disappearing from a place that’s been a home to me.

I keep trying to remind myself that I’ve gotten everything I could have asked for out of roller derby. I’ve gotten more than I could have dreamed. (OPRAH!) It’s changed who I am, what I think of myself, what I know I’m capable of, what I’ve done in my career, and what I can accomplish both when I’m alone and when I partner up with someone who’s got my back. I’m pretty sure I’m still not cleared to talk about such things, but there are derby writing projects in the works, so just like when I was on the injured bench, derby is still very much a part of my life. I just have to adjust to the fact that this is where I skate less and write more.

Every time one of you has written to say that through this site or the novel you’ve found your way to derby, or I talk to one of you out there who maybe already knew me and because you knew a dork like me could find a way out of the dark pit of sadness through this surprising answer, you tried it too and found a whole new passion, a new way to see yourself– that’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my derby career.

I never got to wear a team uniform, but you’re the reason why I have no regrets.


PS: To my fearless sisters trying out for subpool this Sunday: Kill it! Kill it! Kick it in the face!

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  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.


    1. Pamie

      Aw, Ash, thank you. I miss skating with you. Spiked Punch forever.

  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!

    1. Pamie

      I’m working on a hair pic. My god, people. The demands! It’s like you all took AB classes.

  3. Kona

    What the hell, Pamie! You don’t get to say you chopped off all of your hair and not post a picture! That’s just silly.

    1. Pamie


      1. Kona

        But AB Chao said you have to. So…

  4. Michelle

    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.

    1. Pamie

      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.

  5. Penny Zee Nederlander

    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!!!!

    1. Pamie


      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.

  6. 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?

    1. Pamie

      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!

  7. Lee

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

    1. Pamie

      Thank you, Lee.

  8. Jessica Schilling

    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

    1. Pamie

      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.)

      1. Jessica Schilling

        Of course it’s okay! That seems like it would be a really cool way to keep up with derby with a little less time commitments and a lot less bruises!

  9. Debbie Ronca

    It’s okay. You inspired me to join. You inspired countless women to join. You did what you needed.

    1. Pamie

      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.

  10. Joanna L. Castillo

    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.

    1. Pamie

      On your phone?! Such teeny tiny writing!

      1. Joanna L. Castillo

        You can change the font size! And, I’ve always got whatever books I’m reading with me. Very handy.

  11. Jen (the Trephinist)

    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.

    1. Pamie

      If I did that my mother would actually cut it off of me with a butter knife. How about I get that with you in spirit?

  12. Michelle Dulansky

    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

    1. Pamie

      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.

  13. 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!

    1. Pamie

      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!

  14. 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.

    1. Pamie

      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.

  15. Kari

    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.

    1. Pamie

      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!”

      1. 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.

  16. 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. :)

    1. Pamie

      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.

  17. 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.

    1. Pamie

      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.

  18. 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!!

    1. Pamie

      Thanks, Don.

  19. 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.

  20. Trixie Biscuit

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

    1. Pamie

      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.

    2. Pamie

      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.

      1. 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.

  21. Jen @ stuffjensays

    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

  22. LLJessR

    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. :)

  23. Abby-Sophia

    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!

  24. 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.

  25. 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!

    1. Pamie

      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.

      1. 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).

  26. 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.

  27. Mia More



    ::holding my hand to my heart::

  28. Mia More
    1. pamie

      Another example of when I wish this site had a “like” button. Forever in my heart, Mia.

  29. Danica Cleveland

    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.

    1. pamie


      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.

  30. RuBrawl


    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,

    1. Pamie


      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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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!

    1. pamie

      Woo-hoo! Way to go, Shawn! Have a great time in Fresh Meat. It’s truly where you make your friends for life.

  33. 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:


    Not So Fresh Meat

  34. Angela “‘Merica” Alexander

    THANK YOU FOR THIS! I needed this so badly today. Great writing.