Transitioning to Adulthood: What’s my name again?

20180123 - CQS - Real Quick - Fern Wooden-3 - Copy

My heart was racing, pitter-pattering in my ear, and the phrase “don’t screw up” kept playing over and over again my head. My nerves haven’t been this high since one of my last junior bouts, at the Junior Olympics that previous summer. My former coach, now teammate, in an attempt to calm me down, told me it is just like playing bigger kids. I have been up against young adults the same size as grown women, but I knew I was walking into an entirely different playing field. As I geared up, I was excited, but the fear of messing up overtook my positive energy.  This was the day that started my journey with my new forever team, and I was not willing to let it go for any reason what so ever.


The one thing people don’t take into account about transitioning from junior roller derby to adults, isn’t just the size or age range, it is a completely different level of mental control. Accepting I am no longer one of the best players on the track was difficult for me, but it is part of the mental transition from adults to juniors. I used to play games knowing I did everything my team needed from me that bout and I was proud of my performance. When I joined the adult league set me a step back because instead of going out every other jam I was watching from the sidelines. It was heartbreaking for me to realize I am not the same skater I was in the junior leagues. I was at the top of my game with my former league, Holy City Chaos, and there was no going up. The way I could improve my overall skater ability was transfer into the adult league something I was fearful yet ecstatic.  I knew I had to hide was my previous frustrations from my three and a half years of juniors, and learn to channel them into a more positive course of action. I had just turned eighteen four days before my first practice with Columbia Roller Derby, and being not only the youngest one, but also one of the smallest I thought I was at a disadvantage. I was proven wrong rather quickly, as soon as I took the track many of the skaters, allstars and non chartered, approached me and gave me a warm sense of welcome. Each practice I pushed a little harder, until our tryout date arrived. The one thing I knew I did not want to do was give up and go back to my I can’t ways, I tried to so hard to leave at my junior roller derby team. I am the queen of putting herself down and worrying about perfection, but every time I felt those thoughts creeping back into my head, a skater was right behind me encouraging me with some of the most positive feedback I have heard in a long time.

Time management also served as a wake-up call for me. When I played in high school, everyone was going through relatively the same life issues as far as school, and some of the older players had jobs as well. It was also convenient being 30 minutes away versus 2 hours. I am a commuter, meaning I go back and forth to Columbia for four hours every Tuesday and Sunday. It wore on me rather quickly, but I did not see the significant effects of it until I started College. Just like everyone else in the league I have to wake up early so, I can start my day off productively in class every morning, but I am only 19 and this kind of time management was new to time. College gave me a new sense of freedom and I loved it because I could now dedicate more time to the one thing I’ve been passionate since I was 14, Roller Derby. Well turns out life has a funny way of invading your happiness. My classes came along with a full time work schedule and my grandmother had fallen ill, but I refused to let it get in the way of derby. I have done my best to attend every practice regardless of the situation, which leads to many long nights of typing essays on the way to Columbia and these were the sacrifices I am willing to make because I am amazing at roller derby and I only want to get better. So my advice to any of my wonderful friends I have made from junior derby wishing to transfer to the adults, make sure this is what you want to do for the long run because it takes everything you have out of you. I must say it is worth every tear, sweat, and bruise to be able to skate along women I have idolized for years as one group of compelling and beautiful skaters. I am so proud to say I am one of them.

My hard work and push to prove I was ready for the big leagues paid off because I rostered for my first adult all-star charter and I continue to do the same thing each tryout. So when someone asks me what my goal is for the 2018 season, I have a lot on my mind. I want to improve my jamming, blocking, and overall athletic ability, but the one thing I want to do change is my long-term negative mindset every time I do not perform a task “perfectly.” I want to merge myself into this group of athletic women and find a new niche for my adult derby career. I do hope that my previous junior teammate’s and my involvement in an all-star adult level charter will encourage more teams to reach out to their local and state junior roller derby teams. Believe it or not and I have heard quite a few people say this, junior roller derby is the future of the sport, and pretty soon we will be crucial aspects of adult leagues. I only hope that with my determination, poor dance skills before the jam to lighten the mood, and fearlessness, I can prove to the Columbia Quadsquad roller derby team and WFTDA leagues I am a force to be reckoned with on and off the track. Each of junior has a potential to be the next pivotal player on your Allstar charter so do not count us out. We will FIGHT harder than we have before because we are Columbia Roller Derby and we own this track! So my fellow juniors do you think you have what it takes?

Fern Wooden
(Real Quick #65)

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