February 14, 2018

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Love and Roller Derby

February 14, 2018

Hi. Actual derby spouse here. I've been asked to write what it's like to be with a roller derby skater, how it's changed our lives and what I do to support my partner (though I think they're really asking me how I cope with it all). I can't speak for other derby partners but here's my experience so far.


When Crystal (better known as Det. Sure-Block Holmes) first mentioned that she wanted to do roller derby, I immediately thought of bank track roller derby, fishnets, and how dangerous and violent it was. Right then, I was opposed to the idea but that wasn't going to stop Crystal from going for it anyway. She got in touch with Doom Hilda and was set to go to her first practice. That same night we drove to the nearest Sports Authority and bought the cheapest helmet, skates and pad set we could afford. If I couldn't stop her, at least be safe about it, right? So much of the roller derby world was unknown to us.


A little background here: Crystal and I went to high school and college together. We started dating our senior year of college and got married a year after that. We started working full time and moved into our first proper place, which was over an hour away from friends and family. You know, necessary but sad adulting stuff.


This is where derby comes in. We were both looking for new hobbies with the hope of making new friends.


Det. Sure-Block Holmes is not an easily excitable person. In fact, she may even have a reputation for seeming unfriendly and stone cold. However, after her first Friday night practice, she was anything but stoic. Crystal couldn't share how her evening went fast enough. She said wow and amazing a bunch of times with a huge smile across her face. At one point, she held up the cheap pads we bought and said, "Oh, and these? Useless." Then immediately proceeded to throw them out. JDB had given her fresh meat gear to borrow until she saved up enough to buy her own. For the time being, she would have to make do with her cheap skates. But I knew Crystal fell in love with roller derby when she said that she had never met a group of people and just clicked with them right away.


In the beginning, roller derby was a tough mistress to share Crystal with. Two practices a week, plus a committee event and games on the weekends. Add to that, Crystal was off spending time with her new derby friends. We had gone from being newly married and spending a majority of our free time together to her needing to add me to her calendar—like I was a chore or errand. Beyond the time constraints, there were the accidental scratches, bruises and nasty falls that made me worry about her safety. There were a lot of fights and a lot of adjustments, but the key was communication.  


Roller derby was never meant to be exclusively her hobby even though it felt that way from my point of view. All it took was a couple of tag-alongs to her post-practice diner trips and I found myself with a whole new bunch of friends. The more involved I got, the more I saw the benefits of roller derby. Yes, roller derby has its' physical risks, but the skaters are taught and tested for skills before they can do contact. It took time, but I eventually learned that roller derby wasn't going to kill her or squeeze me out of her life. Instead, it would bring us closer together.

Although it seems that the non-skating partner gets credit or compliments for being supportive, the real MVP here is Crystal. All I do is show up. Meanwhile, she works full-time, keeps up her share of household chores, finds time to work out (outside of practice!), makes time to spend with family, friends, me AND roller derby. She truly is an amazing person and I wouldn't have it any other way.


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