Jr. Writing Contest Wreck Lass, GGJD, Photo: Manish Gosalia

Published on August 10th, 2013 | by Guest Contributor

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Wreck Lass, GGJD, Photo: Manish Gosalia

Life After Junior Derby

By Sadie Solomon (Wreck Lass) – Gotham Girls Junior Roller Derby

Roller derby can easily become the center of a skater’s life.  This has been the case for myself as a junior skater this is also the case among my teammates as well. Whether they’re 10 years old or 17 years old, junior skaters come together every week to play the sport they love, to better their skills, and to be involved in a community that supports them. A shared love and commitment is what connects this group of unique girls together.

Being young, naive, and often clueless, junior girls are amazed by the incredible community that derby offers. I have felt more welcomed and accepted than I ever have in my life. I am surrounded by fantastic role models and amazing skaters who show me every day how to be a good skater on the track as well as a good person off the track. I have realized that without the support my team has had from our league, we would not be where we are now.

With the amazing life the derby community, my team, my coaches, and my league have given me comes hard decisions and important questions though.  As I enter my senior year of high school, the talk of college begins.  I never wanted derby to dictate where I would go to college but the fact of the matter is, I don’t want to leave my league. A lot of this conflict comes from wanting to have the experience of going away for school but also wanting to be close to my league. But then I have to question if I would even be good enough to make onto the adult team. The idea of transitioning from a junior team to an adult team has always been scary and exciting, especially when you’re surrounded by some of the best skaters out there today, it’s sometimes hard to imagine yourself playing alongside them.

If I have learned anything from my teammates and my coaches though, it is to enjoy the time I have now on my team, to not worry about aging out of the junior league now, and to remember that no matter what Gotham will always be waiting for me. All I can do now is focus on school and on my skating. I have been given the confidence to trust that with hard work and dedication I can one day be good enough to get onto Gotham and can get into the school I want to go to.

It’s a beautiful thing when you find that special thing in life that gives you something to love, something to work for, and something to feel passionate about. I can say I am lucky enough to have found that thing. No matter the school I go to or the league I skate with, roller derby, and all that comes with it, will always be at the center of my life.

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  • Grand Poobah

    I’m not trying to steer you in any particular direction, but there are cities with great colleges and great leagues. Some of which a skater of your caliber (whatever it is) might be able to make the travel team for (or whatever works for you). GGRD will still be there when you graduate! It’s wise to mention that you’re an experienced junior derby skater when you’re privately asking leagues their age limit.

    • Janesaw

      Agreed. I’ve moved several times in the past few years due to work and graduate school, and derby has always been the fastest way to find a new, awesome group of friends when I find myself in those situations. You’ve got a huge community out there that goes beyond GGRD, and that is pretty much everywhere. Wherever your academic life takes you, you’ll probably find derby there, and I’m sure that with your experience, whatever league you find would be happy to have you.

      • Grand Poobah

        That last sentence I included is because even if they’ve got an over 21 policy, an experienced 18 year old skater might give them cause to change that policy.

  • Jonathan Rockey

    Have a great senior year, Wreck.  Work hard.  Best of luck in all your future endeavors.

  • Dave Adams

    I’d also like to recommend that perhaps there needs to be a derby team at whatever college you end up attending. If the concept of college derby were to take off talented young skaters could attend the best college for them without having to base college choices on nearby teams that allow under 21 skaters.

    It will long while (if ever) before the NCAA has an official derby division but that doesn’t stop YOU from forming a team on your campus and challenging the cross town campus to do the same, and so on and so on.

    There is a huge need for “bridge” programs for former junior skaters between the ages of 18 and 21 and it seems to me that the best place for them is at every college from coast to coast!

    Build a program at your school, build YOUR leadership, build your skill level, raise the overall awareness of derby in your community, help your derby sisters to thrive, expose more young people to the real possibility of playing derby, as an inter-mural sport in college and beyond.

    • http://emdashandco.com/ Em Dash

      I totally agree with this! Many schools are very open to student initiatives, especially ones that don’t cost them a lot of money. I started a literary magazine at my school! Maybe you could partner with a local league to start up a derby class or club that could build into an actual college team, or could feed into the local league once skaters hit whatever age the local league would accept skaters.

  • ZoeMaebfreshmeat5ever

    Wow! I’m also starting my senior year of high school, and I feel almost the same way! I’m so worried about aging out, I have until the end of October. The adult team will absorb me as a new player, but my worry is; for how long? Once I finish High school, I don’t know whether or not I’ll stay in my home town, or be miles and miles away! The team in the other town that I applied for college is so hardcore, (I’m really intimidated) so who’s to know whether or not I get to keep playing?

    Another worry for me and my team mates who age out this year that scares us- Will we have time for derby next year?

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