The Pacifist – By Kate Ross-Leal

Kaarina Mikalson Blog Posts, What I Learned From Derby

When I started skating I thought I wanted to transform into a hardcore roller derby star.  Someone to channel the aggression hiding deep down somewhere in my mind. I wanted to be fearless and rebellious, kick ass and take names, unquestionable confidence in every stride. I truly believed I would evolve into this badass skater through body-checks and broken bones. I used to curse myself out because I couldn’t find the balls to do that one-foot glide around the turn, or I’d fall over another skater while in a tight pack. I would think to myself, “Come on dude, what’s your deal? Where’s the aggression?”

Kate practicing yoga in her ACR jersey.

Kate practicing yoga in her ACR jersey.

I would see other skaters, with their cute queer cuts and arm tattoos skating around the track like they were born with their skates attached. How could I fit in? I am this relatively dainty, highly anemic, anxiously sensitive person whose eyes are filled with stars at games and practices. When I started my roller derby career I felt an inner struggle.  How can I be aggressive and badass, but still keep the inherent pacifist and docile traits that I can’t override?

So I found the solution. After months of ‘Fresh Meat’ (now LoCo/Low Contact) practice and taking time off in self-pity, I began to establish a tight relationship between my yoga and roller derby practice. Such philosophies as: Don’t think, just do. Be present. Plant your feet. Always look forward. Breathe. The teacher shows you the appropriate stance, but you perform it.  You take what you want from it, give what you can to it. Go to practice thinking it’ll be shite, and it will. Go to the oval with passion and energy, it will be so. Want this game to be fun? Cool, done. Stay at home and revel in fear and self-hate? Rad – have a great time with Netflix, rather than surrounding yourself with the kindest and coolest people you’ve ever met.

Anchor City Rollers has shown me I am not this aggressive person and never will be. And that’s okay. Being willing and able to leave the house, getting into the car and getting to practice is the only step. That is because when you get there, you’re met with bright, shining (read: sweaty) faces that want you to do well. The instructors are excited that you share a passion for the sport. The friends you make are keen to catch up and your body will thank you for giving it a good workout. I now go to derby with the acknowledgement that I may not be that player who goes to practice fearless and ready to be hip-checked to the next town, but I will go to practice with the same love and appreciation for the sport. Even if I’m not made of stone.

Kaarina MikalsonThe Pacifist – By Kate Ross-Leal