An Epic Worldwide Documentary
& Roller Derby Adventure

Project Blog
Dec 2013 20

One Woman’s Perspective

Posted in Project Blog by Juvie

Roller derby is life. It is magic and spirit and clarity.

Like anything worth experiencing, though, the magic of roller derby comes with a price. Bouts, of course, are fun and exciting and beautifully showcase the skill in the sport, but the experience of playing roller derby is much more than the excitement of bout day. For me, roller derby is about more than “hitting bitches.” It’s more than clever names and fancy skates. It’s a sport, but way more than a sport. Practicing, developing skills, participating in the league and community–these are challenging beyond description or belief, physically, emotionally and mentally.

There have been times when, in the middle of a grueling practice, or when I fail for what feels like the thousandth time to execute a seemingly simple move, I just want to scream and cry and quit. At those times, I ask myself bitterly, why? Why am I doing this? This is supposed to be fun. Why aren’t I better? Why am I here? I suck at this, I hate it, I can’t do it.

But in the darkest moments of self-doubt, when I am so tired of trying, of failing, of breathing…when it feels like I couldn’t possibly stand up for even a moment longer…a deeper self emerges. Primal. Fierce. Loving. I just know that I will keep going. It’s not a question of choice. It just is. I look around at my teammates, each of them pouring their hearts and bodies into this sport, into our team, each of them giving every ounce of effort, overcoming their own obstacles, their own inner critics, and I am filled with a deep sense of right. This is being alive. Striving, sweating, pushing, hurting, connecting, trying, encouraging, having patience, purifying, learning, supporting, crying, laughing, breathing, loving. Living in the moment. Existing in this place, at this time, on this track, in this jam. Balancing between striving and trusting. Between chaos and stillness. Between “I” and “we.” That is when the magic happens, when time slows down. My inner critic is silenced and everything is absolutely clear. I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Playing roller derby has utterly defeated and destroyed me, but it is also teaching me to get over myself. In the heat of each difficult moment, I am purified and strengthened. Each time I connect to that deeper self who knows, who is vital and present, the more I become her in my life. Each time I transcend to that magical place of clarity, I bring a tiny bit of that awareness back with me. I am learning the art and skill of continually growing and rebuilding into a better, stronger, truer version of me.

Roller derby is destruction and rebirth. It is overcoming fear and doubt for the opportunity to experience–if just for a moment–connection with something that transcends the boundaries of time and self. It is magic and spirit and clarity.

Roller derby is life.

Note: I wrote this piece for Frank Lavelle’s new book of roller derby photography, Eat the Baby. The book is now available and you can get your very own copy here!

  • Frank Lavelle

    Juvie, thank you for writing this. When I was typing it up for the book last night at one am, I really had a chance to think about the words, and although I really only know you as a skater, I now feel better for knowing something about Juvie Hall the person. I’ll have a copy of ETB for you when you return. Again, thank you for sharing. Frank