Courtesy North Country Lumber Jills
Elizabeth Girard, A.K.A. “Bertha Victory,” is among the members of the North Country Lumber Jills roller derby team preparing for a bout against the Twin City Riots Saturday, Oct. 29.
(Editor’s Note: The following is the first in a series of columns written by members of the North Country Lumber Jills roller derby team. Elizabeth Girard, who goes by her derby name “Bertha Victory,” shares with readers her experience of joining roller derby. The team is gearing up for its first home bout Saturday, Oct. 29, at the City of Plattsburgh Recreation Center against the Twin City Riots, a team from Barre, Vt.)
When I first read about a roller derby team in Plattsburgh, I joked with my husband at the thought of knocking around on roller skates. Surprisingly, he encouraged me. Laughter soon turned to determination as I vowed to try something totally unexpected.
Over a year later, I am in love with this sport. I have discovered a place where a diverse group of women can find common ground. I am inspired by teammates who have never played sports finding new confidence and making healthy changes in their lives. At practices I am rewarded by overcoming physical and mental challenges. I ask, “I have to throw myself on all fours and bounce right back up to keep skating!?” and “You want me to willingly hip check my teammate!?” As well as wonder, “Can women be aggressive and feminine at the same time?”
Questions like these help me overcome my limited beliefs of what I think I am capable. Before starting derby, I was known for my quiet gentle nature. While that is still a part of me, I have also found my way into a rough and tumble full contact sport. I now have a space to step outside of my role as nurturer and mother to discover all new sides to myself.
As a stay-at-home mom and part-time massage therapist, finding time for roller derby is challenging. How is it possible to fit in all the events that keep our team running? My key factor lies within the person who encouraged my roller derby adventure, my husband. Instead of tackling dinner, bath, and bed time together, he is often left solo. He sees the positive effects roller derby has had in my life and works to help make it possible. Anyone thinking of playing derby must assess the time needed to participate and find the support needed to help them reach their goals.
As a mother, I am often so family centered I don’t take time for myself. Roller derby provides the exercise to stay healthy and the much needed camaraderie of the team. I can then return home fulfilled and ready to refocus on family needs. The roller derby community is family friendly and gives mothers a chance to be strong female role models for their children. Recently, I took my 4-year-old to buy Legos as a treat. He requested roller skates saying, “Now, I can be just as fast as you!”
Roller derby can easily consume one’s life and too much time off wheels brings withdrawals. Time management becomes essential. It is easy to get bogged down by striving to be the best mom, best massage therapist, and best derby player I can be. While these are significant goals it is important to know that I can’t do it all. Focusing on one thing at a time and staying positive keeps me going. Stepping out of my comfort zone to try roller derby is a decision I’ll never regret.