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Published on August 22nd, 2011 | by Valtron3000

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The Derby Dismount: Landing a Perfect 10

There comes a time when we all need to make the tough choice to hang up our skates. Derby is addictive, period. Oftentimes derby is compared to a drug, or maybe a bad relationship. When it’s good, it’s good; when it’s bad, well, you still get your ass to practice, always thinking of the good times. But just like a tough breakup, sometimes you have to realize and admit to yourself… derby, it’s not you, it’s me.

Every year, the same thing came out of my mouth…this is probably the last year. Then like clockwork, another game was lost by a fraction, championship dreams dashed, a trip to Australia is offered, and whoosh, I’m sucked back into the frenzy.

I have been skating non-stop for seven years, both on home and travel teams, and it’s catching up with my body. Seven years is a long time. That’s longer than it took me to get my Ph.D. (while, of course, playing derby), that’s longer than most marriages, that’s how long you’ll have bad luck after you break a mirror.

I want to leave on my own terms, before I am too hurt to keep skating and bitter at leaving when I wasn’t ready, before I get so burned out I want to run kicking and screaming from practice or another league meeting, before I start muffin-topping over my “lift and separates” and huffing to keep up with the pack.

To plan the derby dismount, I’ve taken an entire year to really solidify my choice, and make sure I don’t get sucked back for another season.

Step 1: Make sure to tell EVERYONE this is the last year – family, friends, teammates, fans, the derbylife community. You will be less likely to change your mind the more people who know.

Step 2: Make a vision board of a life without derby (or at least talk all the time about what your vision board contains). Garden? Cook more? Craft? Travel (not just to play derby)? Network and finally advance your stalemated career? (For more info on how to “put on soft music, and just start clipping,” check out these sites: http://pinterest.com/, http://christinekane.com/blog/how-to-make-a-vision-board/ ) Thanks Glitter.

Step 3: Start collecting Groupons to Yoga studios and researching exercise classes. Insanity workout? Crossfit? Just know when you stop skating four times a week, two hours or more at a time, the muscle loss and weight gain isn’t far behind.

Step 4: Find a dismount buddy or two…preferably someone who has been playing as long as or close to as long as you have. Make a pact…no matter what, this year you are going to finally walk away.

Step 5: Plan an alumni book club, supper club, exercise and cocktails night, or craft nights. You’ve made a lot of friendships over the years, make sure to keep cultivating those friendships outside of derby. Once you stop being able to talk and gossip about what’s going on in derby, you have to start the conversation somewhere.

Step 6: Make plans with all your non-derby friends. You’ve been neglecting them for far too long.

Step 7: Remember that for the 25% of the time you love derby–the adrenaline of playing in front of a crowd of either tens or thousands, the friends, the laughs–there’s the 75% of the time you are dreading it and realizing, maybe it really is time to move on. There are tens, if not hundreds, if not thousands of rollergirls out there who are clamoring for a chance to do what you’ve done.

Step 8: Almost there, keep your head in the game. When the going gets tough, when your body hurts, when you get hit in the face or skate rape your own tailbone after a sternum check, resist the urge to start mentally checking out. Focus on finishing strong.

Step 9: Go cold turkey. Separate yourself from your league for at least a month and resist the urge to talk about derby. Don’t coach for a few months, don’t go to a practice. Enjoy spontaneity in your life again. 45 minute wait for dinner? Sure, why not, there’s no rush to go anywhere. Have to stay late at work? No problem. Happy hour? You betcha’. Spontaneous trip out of town? Guilt free.

Step 10: Realize that if you really hate life without derby, you can always come back. Derby isn’t going anywhere…you can always chalk it up to a trial separation.

Will I land my dismount with arms stretched high, a smile on my face, with toes pointed and my legs together? Let’s just wait and see, I still have tournament season and a derby trip to Australia in November.

You can help send me and the Rat City All-Stars on my ultimate dismount here.

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