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Published on February 11th, 2012 | by DerbyLife


Sober Roller Derby

By Anonymous, Blue Ridge Rollergirls

April 13, 2010. My first derby bout.

My attention was evenly split between two things: the beer vendors and roller derby. One was a current obsession, an old friend. It was a slow and sneaky passion that had made its way into my life like a shadow. The other was a brand new fixation that I would use to help me let go of the other. As I sat in the suicide seats, trying to figure out how I could get enough money for a beer, I had no idea that I was on my final run with alcohol. I had no idea the end was near – I didn’t even think I had a problem. Alcohol was my solution.

I shifted around on the cold concrete floor, asking a million questions about the game, while at the same time antsy to get something to take the edge off. Beer was $5. I didn’t have $5. This was a problem. My attention was split when I saw the Blue Ridge Rollergirls roll out onto the track. I knew immediately I needed to be one of them. I made up my mind that I would be. At that moment, I had no intention of ever stopping drinking alcohol.

Fast forward a month. Life had continually edged more and more to the right, and was heading straight downhill, all of it related to drinking. Blackouts, bad decisions, dangerous situations. One drink was never enough. A nice beer after work would lead to an all-nighter. Every night. It didn’t start this way. At first drinking was for parties and weekends. Then Thursdays. Then it was a great way to unwind after work. I’d drink to celebrate, to mourn, to deal with anger, to relax, to get pumped up. It was always a good time to drink.

In June, I had new skates and I was 30 days sober. Already I was questioning the wisdom of joining a sport in which you can win an award for partying the hardest, but it was too late; I was head over heels in love. I had zero talent, but an infallible desire to make it. My evenings, formerly spent drinking margaritas at The Lucky Otter, beer at The Wedge, or wine at home, were filled with learning to stop, fall and move on roller skates at an outdoor hockey rink. I was out of shape and hadn’t played a sport in over 10 years. Sobriety rocked my world. When it settled, there stood roller derby.

At 90 days sober I was reaching out to my newly discovered “higher power,” tentatively asking whether I could possibly hold on to this tenuous sobriety while at the same time falling even harder for roller derby. Even before becoming fresh meat, I juggled fitting in AA meetings with my meager skating time. One night I googled “sober roller girls” in the hopes of finding that this could, indeed, be done. (I didn’t find much.) That same week I found out a skater on my team I admired was also in recovery. It was just what I needed – a small sign to keep on keepin’ on.

Today I am a few days past 21 months sober. I am a different person in so many ways. I still struggle to figure out how to fit it all in and I am slowly piecing my messy life back together. I am a full-fledged Blue Ridge Rollergirl, with my first season under my belt. I go to AA meetings 3-4 times a week. I hit the gym 2-3 times a week. We practice 3 times a week, and I try not to miss even one, as I have a long way to go before I am good. Sometimes I need to miss a practice and hit an extra meeting. My coach knows, and supports me wholeheartedly.

In the beginning, I went to the after-parties, but I have found that I am not comfortable there, as much as I really want to be. There is a sense of loneliness I get from not attending as many derby functions with my team, but I realize it is just a different path I am choosing. If I want to skate, this is what I must do. A bar is a dangerous place for a newly-sober alcoholic so why risk everything I have worked so hard to earn? For me, to drink again would be to lose roller derby.

These days I eat healthfully and I work out – something I can thank sobriety and roller derby for. The other sober roller girl on my team relapsed, and it is very lonely sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade it for all the drinks and all the amazing after-party stories in the world. Because I know that without sobriety, I would never have been given the gift of roller derby. And while the words “sober” and “roller girl” aren’t often seen together, that doesn’t mean they can’t be.

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About the Author

  • skara

    Clean and sober since 6/1/2010!! Derby is a huge part of my recovery!! Congratulations on your sobriety!! Woohoo

  • skara


  • Nacho

    Wow, thank you for your story… Sober almost 22 months and just joined roller derby a few months ago. Very inspiring. :)

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