Staying Involved in Roller Derby While Pregnant
Something is in the water in the Southeast. Just about every surrounding league has had at least one pregnancy announcement in the last year. So much so that a Facebook group was set up (search for Pregnant Roller Derby and Postpartum Women) for pregnant roller derby skaters to openly discuss issues that surround roller derby, pregnancy, etc. without flooding everyone’s news feeds.
I started my roller derby career over five years ago. In March 2012, I transferred to the Columbia QuadSquad. After 13 months as a floater between the Allstars and the Miss B-haviors, I became a fixed Allstar. That means that I was guaranteed to roster for the Allstars for every bout that quarter. It is a spot held by only 10-11 members of the league. It was definitely my biggest derby accomplishment to date and one that I had worked very hard to achieve.
On July 5, 2013, only FOUR days after becoming a fixed Allstar, I found out I was pregnant. Yes, the “nine month injury.” To say this was a surprise is an understatement. More like a shock! My husband and I had long decided we were done having children. We were more than content with our son, 10, and daughter, 7.
There were some complications that did not allow me to disclose my pregnancy right away, so for several weeks I was out with an “injury” which became harder and harder to hide. I continued to skate, but I could not participate in any contact drills. I began to spend more and more time in the middle of the track simply watching. That was hard. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t get sad or felt left behind or forgotten … I did. When you go from skating three to four nights a week with the same people to sitting on the sidelines, you are bound to feel that way. It turned out to be a feeling shared amongst those I polled on the pregnancy Facebook group. However, everyone polled agreed that it is important to realize that whether you are pregnant, seriously injured, or have some other circumstance keeping you out of bouts, it is your own responsibility to keep from fading away into the derby black hole.
This pregnancy taught me that I could continue to contribute to my league by participating in all the behind-the-scenes work that is essential to running a successful league. So I offer a few suggestions for staying involved during your time off skates:
- Skate. Continue to skate as long as your doctor allows and your team is comfortable. My doctorallowed me to continue non-contact skating well into my second trimester. Sometimes this becomes difficult, as many drills require some sort of contact, but get out there for what you can. Also, expect that even though you may have your doctor’s permission, it doesn’t mean you won’t make your teammates a little nervous
- NSO or volunteer. Since you now have a little more time on your hands, strengthen your roller derby knowledge by trying out various NSO positions, or learn more about your league by taking on a volunteer position. Personally, I served as volunteer coordinator
- Coach or help with fresh meat. You more than likely have a lot of derby knowledge to share. See what you can do to help out at practices. In a lot of leagues there is not a designated person to assist fresh meat; perhaps you can take that job. Or maybe your team has a head coach but could use a bench coach. This will keep you involved and a valuable part of the league
- Ref. This can be a great way to stay on skates and stay actively involved while providing a much needed service to your team. I don’t know a league that ever has enough help reffing
- Attend bouts, events, team meetings, etc. Roller derby strategy and rules are always changing. While I was out, a new rule set was announced. 30 second penalties! Keep up on new strategy and rules by attending bouts. I was fortunate enough to attend the Division 1 tournament in Asheville
What a learning experience! If permitted, continue to attend your league meetings, as you will want to have input on decisions that will ultimately affect you once you return. Plus, your roller derby sisters want to see that ever growing baby bump! I had a beautiful baby boy in February. I have now begun my return to roller derby. At this point, I have no idea in what capacity I will return, but I am certainly glad that I continued to stay involved!
Rose E. Riveter