How roller derby saved my soul: Guest blog by Bat Hit Crazy

Photo Credit: Barry Wimlett
Photo Credit: Barry Wimlett

Two years ago my life was a lot different from what it is now. After finishing my degree at University I started working full time at the supermarket I had worked part time at during my degree. My friends had all moved back home and I was left feeling pretty lost and alone. After applying for as many jobs as I could, I struggled to even get replies. I was stuck working at a supermarket and wondering what I was going to do with my future.
Six months later my granddad passed away, a real shock. My life was spiralling out of control and I knew I had to make some changes.

During a trip to visit my best friend from University in Cornwall, she told me she’d joined her lcoal roller derby team. She had got seriously ill and told me how it was killing her she couldn’t be on skates. I’d known about roller derby for a long time, and had actually arranged to join my local fresh meat before I started University – but had been too scared to make the plunge and turn up. I was keen to hear more. Having never even skated before in my life she soon had me trying on her skates, rolling around her house screaming at me to bend my knees and looking up local derby teams.

Next thing I know we’ve sent off an e-mail to my local team – Wakey Wheeled Cats – and arranged for me to visit the team at a fundraiser then join in with their next intake. My anxiety and nerves started kicking in about what I had got myself into on my return back North.

I almost didn’t go to the team fundraiser as I started panicking and feeling anxious. But I needn’t have been. As I went to go to the event, I was greeted by the most amazing women I would come to know in my life. Despite me being a complete stranger I felt like I fit in straight away, I was introduced to everyone and people were so enthusiastic to meet me and talk to me about the sport they loved. I promptly turned up to the fresh meat sessions terrified but keen to learn. Then roller derby took over my life as I fell in love.

I was starting to feel healthier and had made massive changes to my lifestyle. No longer was I struggling at work, I could make it through a shift without any problems and I wasn’t suffering with bad panic or anxiety attacks anymore. I was beginning to feel more optimistic about life.

I became determined to prove myself, and as our minimum skills assessment was coming up I was more determined than ever to pass my skills and start training with the cats and learning how to play the game of roller derby. I revised all my rules, did as much practice as possible and was ready to prove to the head coaches I was ready to move up from kittens (fresh meat) to Cats! I passed my skills and managed to not put too much pressure on myself. The only part I struggled with was doing laps, and I had worked myself up and caused myself a panic attack during the first time I took them. After a quick pep talk from Edd I was back on track and ready to take on the other skills assessments. I retook my laps and with the help of Flo screaming at me all the way round the track, I passed them ecstatic with myself. I was able to join the Cats in the main training and quickly I was being thrown into the deep end at my first bout.

Photo Credit: Richard Nicholson
Photo Credit: Richard Nicholson

My mental health was improving dramatically week on week, no longer was I the shell of a girl so scared of everything, but I was a powerful confident woman. I had gained a whole set of friends that meant I had a social life and become a social butterfly. Before I was so scared of letting people into my personal space, now I was joining in grabbing boobs accidently during drills and not being frightened and blocking people with my own body.
I took every bit of feedback I got and every single slice of criticism on board and pushed myself to my limits. I was reading all I could and watching as many videos as possible about derby to help me become a better skater. I joined the gym and pushed myself there so I would be fitter. I’ve made it onto the first two games of the season’s roster and also got asked to be a coach to the newer skaters.

Derby has well and truly become a massive part of my life, and my team have become the family and friends I never had and the most inspirational women I have ever known. My panic and anxiety have calmed down so much that they are almost never there and my social anxiety has practically disappeared. Some of my best friends are Cats, I even recently went on holiday with Brooke! You will always find me at the recruitment and fundraiser events talking the same way as the ladies I first met about the sport I have fallen in love with. People that get to know me tell me how confident I am, with such a positive outlook on life. Two years ago I would have never made it to see 25, with the discovery of roller derby and the Wakey Wheeled Cats I have recovered my life and am the happiest I have ever been.

Bat-Hit Crazy #041 “Zubat”

Taking some time out for an outdoor skate with the Cats.
Taking some time out for an outdoor skate with the Cats.

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