I joined the Oz Roller Girls, a newly formed roller derby league in central NY, late in September 2010. I joined because I wanted another athletic challenge in my life, another adventure before I was in the "real world." I initially thought that this was going to be a seven month long venture, and just that. What I didn't realize was that I would fall madly in love with everything about this sport and its community. Roller derby has changed my life with such a magnitude, it's absolutely crazy. Let me tell you briefly about it, yeah?

How roller derby has changed my life...

- I have met the most wonderful people through roller derby.
If you're on a derby team, you know exactly what I mean. The women on my team have fully evolved from simply teammates to being my big sisters. Not only do we spend about nine hours a week together on the track, but we hit the gym about five hours a week, hold bi-weekly movie nights, have team bonding activities, and when I'm upset about something, I know I have thirty women that I trust to talk about things with. They are my family, my strength, and I never ever expected that out of this sport. Even though I'm moving on in May to my next adventure, these women will always have a place in my heart.

- I can now walk in high heels correctly and confidently.
I am not a girly-girl. If you were to look up "tom boy" in the dictionary, there would be a picture of me. I basically wore jeans and a sweatshirt throughout high school with my hair in a ponytail. Even though my fashion sense is as good as the eyesight of a tranquilized elephant, I have a secret love for heels. I love the way heels make me feel when I wear them! Before roller derby, I loved standing in them, but I couldn't walk in them at all! Now, because of all that toe stop walking and running, I can confidently walk in my heels! :)

- My self-confidence has skyrocketed.
Remember my tom-boy comment? Well, before I met these wonderful women, I didn't think I was remotely pretty. I'm sure every 22 year old thinks the same thing though. These women have showed me just how beautiful I am. Plus, after you knock someone up off of their skates, how can you not think you're awesome?

- Useful life skills.
Even though there is a strict "no drama" policy in my league, we all know how women get when they are close together. I've learned a valuable lesson about how to avoid drama at any cost, and about confrontation skills, honesty, and fairness. I've also learned quite a bit about how a league works, the business aspect of things, and how to work effectively with people. My skills with words have also gotten immensely better. The beautiful thing about derby is that it's a melting pot of people with different creeds, colors, orientations, beliefs, and politics. That means that everyone can be offended by anything, so it's a great practice in eloquence of words. I'm damn good at it too. :)

- My future plans...
After joining a roller derby league, I won't be part of another team sport again. The camaraderie of the team, the brutality of the sport, and the support of the underground derby community is just amazing. If you have any doubts about joining a roller derby team, get the heck over it and just do it. It will be the best decision you EVER make. This is something that I cannot not do now. I need to be part of this until I can't move. I will skate until I can't hit anymore, then ref until I can't skate anymore, and then NSO until I can't stand! This sport and its community is amazing, and I have been looking for leagues to join near where I am applying for jobs. I'm that serious about it. My dream is to play for Charm City Roller Girls of Baltimore, MD, but I haven't heard back from the schools I applied to there yet. (And right after I wrote this, I got a call from a school in Baltimore to set up an interview! YES!)

The biggest thing I've learned is that I've figured out who I am. While I'm only Eddie Krueger on the roller derby track, I am Laurie Edwards in every other situation. Roller derby has given me the strength to find a direction for my life, and the knowledge of knowing I have the support system to do whatever it is I wanted. If I decided I was going to stick around Oswego to find a job here, I would have thirty places to stay. If I simply needed to talk on the phone when I get down to MD for financial advice, I could call Certified Public Assassin because she's an accountant and I'm sure she'd help me out. If I just needed to talk something out, I could call my Derby Wife Hot Donna twenty years from now, and she still wouldn't judge me. Roller derby will forever be changing my life, and I will let it as long as it's for the best. I'm so ready for my next adventure, and believe me, roller derby will forever be a part of my life.

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