From Junior to Adult Skater

This year I took a huge step forward in my roller derby career. After skating with the Queen City Junior Roller Girls for 6 seasons, I transitioned into the adult league at QCRG. This change was anticipated highly by myself, my friends, and my family. While roller derby is nothing new to me, I didn’t know what to expect from the transition. I was both thrilled and a little bit terrified all at the same time.

To understand how I came to be where I am now, it’s important to know how this journey began. Picture this: a mother negotiating with her 11 year old daughter on how to become more active. Looking back at it now I don’t blame her. I was an early bloomer and my metabolism was not cooperating with my growing hunger. My parents decided it was time to do something about this so I was told to pick two sports. Eventually stubborn little me caved in and joined a cheerleading team, however I was still in need of one more activity.

Photo by Rene van Ee
Around this time my mother and I visited the local roller rink quite often for open skates. This roller rink happened to host the Queen City Roller Girls every now and then, so one evening we decided to check it out. We knew that the DJ from our open skate sessions played for a team so we thought it would be fun to watch her skate. Needless to say we both fell in love with this awesome sport. My mother immediately enrolled in roller derby boot camp. Luckily for myself, the QCRG were in the process of forming a junior team for ages 8 through 17. The following year my mother was a referee and I became a charter member of the brand new Queen City Junior Roller Girls.

Fast forward about 6 years, the 2016-2017 season was to be my “senior year” of junior roller derby. I would be turning 18 and moving up to the adult league at the end of the season. Unfortunately, I did not get to skate with my team for my final junior season due to a major knee injury. During cheerleading practice a fall resulted in a torn ACL and meniscus. I spent my last season as a junior skater on the bench, going through surgery and extensive physical therapy. Now, a year later I have finally been cleared to play the sport I love in all of its hard hitting glory! Pushing myself all summer long leading up to the QCRG home team draft paid off as I was drafted to the Devil Dollies team.

Photo by Sean Murphy
Right now I am experiencing firsthand what it’s like to transition from being a junior skater to an adult skater. As one of the first couple of Queen City Juniors to move up in the league I have taken time to reflect on this change. One of the greatest things in my opinion is the fact that I have so many years of roller derby experience already tucked under my belt. Sometimes I laugh to myself when other skaters refer to me as a rookie seeing as this will be my seventh skating season, and eighth season involved with roller derby. I 100% believe that this experience gives me an upper hand as I have more of an understanding of strategy and gameplay. This is all thanks to the talented coaches who have dedicated their time to training us junior skaters.

Something I have noticed about my new team in particular is the seriousness that everyone has and treats this sport with. Little things such as not wasting practice time by talking excessively or taking long water breaks, and having written homework assignments due at next week’s practice show me that as an adult skater I have responsibilities. Holding myself and my teammates accountable is important in order to have a successful team.

Photo by Chris Kalisiak
My experience with transitioning from junior to adult derby has been and will continue to be a bit more challenging due to my injury. I try to take things a step further to rebuild muscle and make myself stronger. I have had to work extra hard to condition myself and prepare for the physical and mental toughness that I know this sport requires. I won’t lie, it’s very frustrating when I attempt things I was once able to do without thinking and end up totally wiping out. Having supportive teammates makes it a whole lot easier; I am very thankful to have such a positive and helpful support system. If I’m having a rough day I know my teammates will do everything they can to help me out. To me, having a supportive and positive team atmosphere is crucial to accomplish our goals.

What started out as something to keep myself in shape and out of trouble became one of the most important aspects of my identity. Transitioning from a junior skater to an adult skater has been a learning experience. Every practice I leave with new knowledge, and positive energy. I intend to continue on this roller derby journey one stride at a time and I look forward to the rest of my first season as an adult skater.

~Mer Maiden