How to break up with roller derby

Posted on November 21, 2014 by

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There are a few different ways to leave roller derby. You can go out in a blaze of indignant fury, posting scathing Facebook posts. You can quietly fade into the background and slink away (that was my method the first time I left). Below I outline a way to do it that can leave you feeling positive about the whole experience.

First, why are you thinking of leaving? Is it because you feel pulled away from derby by a more exciting prospect? Is it because the whole thing has become staid and you’ve just kept going because you don’t know what else to do with your spare time (a bit like Vivi Section’s experience)? Is it because you feel pushed out by certain people/your league’s direction?

If it’s the third one, consider raising the issues before you give up. You might not get the result you want but at least you can say you gave them a go. Alternatively, look for another league to join – when you do leave the sport it should be because you’ve got everything you can from the journey – not because someone bullied you or because the culture clashed with your personal values.

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Jimmy Lee (then Babydoll Blue) left derby in 2012. Check out her Cosplay group League of Biddies

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She doesn’t need derby to be Babydoll though (photo by I Got Super Powers)

Let’s assume you just don’t love it anymore or you’re leaving to pursue more exciting endeavours.

Here’s a checklist for leaving roller derby the right way.

Die Little Pony left in 2014. Her horse riding passion gets more airplay now

Die Little Pony left roller derby in 2014. Her horse riding passion gets more airplay now

Personal reflection. Spend some time reflecting on what roller derby has given you. Include everything in this (derby booty, new friends, fitness, courage, coordination, new wardrobe, etc, etc). Concentrate on these things and generate as strong a sense of gratitude as you can.

Sa-Tani left roller derby in .

Sa-Tani left roller derby in steps (from skating to benching to finally leaving) between 2013 and 2014.

Spend some time thinking about the crappy bits too: shitty people you had to deal with, injuries, missed parties and family events. Do two things with these thoughts: firstly, discern the lesson each holds. Did you learn some skills for managing difficult people? Did you learn how to take better care of your body? Did you learn that family actually is very important to you? Secondly, thank the crappy parts for the lessons they offered and then send them on their way.

Dodge Charger stopped skating due to an injury sustained in 2014. She still benches for Murder City Roller Girls.

Dodge Charger stopped skating due to an injury sustained in 2014. She still benches for Murder City Roller Girls.

Now it’s time to quit formally. Let the league know through official channels first. At a minimum, this should include notifying the Board, the head of your committee and your team captain. Keep the message positive (but truthful), something along the lines of “I have made the difficult decision to leave the league. I am grateful for [be genuine here]. My last session will be [date].

Tricksey Belt'em quit in 2013. She still contributes to the sport, recently commentating at an LCD game. Photo by Martin Stanley.

Tricksey Belt’em (on the left) quit in 2013. She still contributes to the sport, recently commentating at an LCD game. Photo by Martin Stanley Photography.

If you think the league has the right culture, offer the Board an exit interview with you, where you can let them know your thoughts on the best parts of the league as well as those parts that could do with more attention.

After official notices have been sent, you can let the league and/or your team know as a whole. Make sure your fees are paid up and any league panties that you might have taken home for washing are returned on your last session (or, if you quit suddenly, give them to a friend to take back).

Erica (author on this blog) left derby in 2012. She is currently gallivanting around the world. This image is from Burning Man

Erica (previous author on this blog) left derby in 2012. She is currently gallivanting around the world. This image is from her time at Burning Man

Next, work out which derby peeps you want to stay in contact with once you’re gone. Pick the few who you really bonded with and let them know. Send them a message telling them how they added to your derby journey. Include an offer to hang out and make it a concrete plan if they seem keen. Remember, it will never be the same as it was so adjust your expectations and get ready for the next phase of your friendship with them.

Prepare yourself mentally for not only leaving the rest behind but also being left behind by them. Unless you purge your Facebook friends you will start to see parties, weddings, etc come up on your feed that teammates went to that you no longer get an invite to.

Michelle (previous author on this blog) left derby in 2011, freeing up time and money for other exciting pursuits

Michelle (previous author on this blog) left derby in 2011, freeing up time and money for other exciting pursuits

So far, you’ve been focussed on finishing up in a positive way. It’s time to think about what’s going to fill the derby void. Make a list/mind map/series of pictures of things you missed or wished you had more time for while you were involved with derby. Think through all the components of your life, which may include:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Work
  • Fitness
  • Other sports
  • Creative expression
  • Outdoor activities
  • Holidays
  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Education/learning
  • Other kinds of skating (yes, there is skating without derby!): ramp skating, outdoor skates, jam skating, skatefit, roller hockey, even figure skating if you feel like a complete skate sea change

Make plans (if you’re a planny kind of person) and start scheduling activities in to achieve your goals. If that’s too structured, make casual contact with relevant people so they know you’re going to be more available now that derby is not consuming your free time.

In case you feel alone in your decision (which is probably the case unless your league is having a mass exodus), here are some other people’s thoughts on, or experiences of, quitting roller derby:

PS If you only want to sort of quit (ie, you want to stay a part of the league), try these tips from Frisky Sour “Do you want to stay involved? If so, how much and what would you like that time to look like? Will you still skate recreationally? Will you continue to volunteer? If so, doing what? Do you want to see these people three times a week still? Try coaching. Once a week? How about being an NSO?”

Lemon Drop stopped skating in 2012 for health reasons but stayed on with the San Diego Derby Dolls as a coach

Lemon Drop 80% stopped playing in 2012 for health reasons but stayed on with the San Diego Derby Dolls as a coach (shown here with the juniors)

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