Stages of Derby Retirement: Denial

IMG_2486Retirement. It’s something we don’t talk about in derby. We all think we’re going to play forever. But we’re not, we’ll all have to retire at some point. It’s the elephant in the locker room. But people change. Careers change. Injuries happen. You may get to retire on your own terms. You may not. Most likely you will be like me and it will be in between the two, where it was your decision but not the one you wanted to make at the time you wanted to make it.

Retiring is an emotional experience. Even if you had a relatively short career like I did (I joined in fall 2011), for that time you likely spent more time with your team than you did your family. It’s not just the two hour practices 2-4 times a week. It’s the bouts. Traveling for away bouts. Committee work. Fundraisers. Promotional events. Off skates training (if you’re smart). And all of a sudden its gone. Which is why the first stage of derby retirement is Denial.

I’m at the tail end of denial myself. But when I had to step down earlier this season I said “I’m not done, I’m just taking a break.” I thought I’d get my life straightened out, and get back to practice. But that’s not happening.

Work has still been crazy, of course. My league doesn’t have Sunday practice on the day after a bout, and we have a crazy bout schedule this year. So Sunday practices haven’t been an option. Each time you miss a practice it gets harder to go back

Plus Claire and I are working our asses off trying to make this blog successful. I know when I say that my teammates must think I’m crazy, prioritizing my site over playing the game we’ve all trained so hard to play. But to me it’s not just a blog, it’s my attempt to grow a brand and a business. Claire and I have this pipe dream where we won’t have to have day jobs anymore, that we will be able to make enough to get by doing this.

But even logically knowing all of that, I still refer to myself as “semi-retired.” I still pay my dues every month, I’m still doing committee work. I’m still volunteering when I don’t have Pure Geekery events going on. But I’m still saying I’ll make it back to practice “someday.” I’m telling myself “someday” will be after the convention season is over this fall. I’ll come back and play in the annual Halloween bout.

So I’ll see you all at practice. You know, someday…

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