Bonus: my shiny gold and white custom Onyx skates helped me achieve a personal goal I’ve had for 5 years – execute an apex jump in a WFTDA charter game! More like a skip-hop and I may have fallen immediately after the jump . . . but hey, got the points and even photographic evidence courtesy of Will Toft Photography.
The time has come for me to take a hiatus and hang up my skates as a competitive roller derby player.
Maybe I’ll do some travel and coaching for leagues and teams who are interested? My 2019 life path is shrouded with a bit of uncertainty (excitement), but I do know that I can’t fully commit to being a dedicated player and teammate at this time. Additionally, I believe my brain needs a bit of rest.
Like many roller derby athletes, I’ve had a handful of concussions and suffered varying degrees of head and neck traumas from playing the sport. But it reached the point that I didn’t even notice most of the minor subconcussive impacts during gameplay anymore. It would take a gnarly hit to my face or particularly jarring impact which caused whiplash for me to react.
Over the past year, I started noticing after some practices I would have heightened anxiety, depression, dizziness, nausea, ears popping, occasional blurred vision, and brain fog. This year I also experienced my first ever migraine. Then, when the WFTDA released its concussion awareness campaign this past August, I learned about chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, the degenerative disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head.
About a month leading up to WFTDA playoffs my anxiety about potential traumatic head injuries spiked. Aside from not playing, what was in my control to prevent subconcussive impacts during practices, scrimmages, and games?
- Change the way I attacked the pack as a jammer?
- Increase my awareness about my head’s positioning in relation to blockers at all times?
I was not in a good headspace. When it comes to athletic performance, the instant you fear an injury happening or second guess your abilities you are distracted from being in the moment and performing the activity and instead leave yourself open to an elevated risk of injury. Mental acuity is integral for successful performance. Long story short, I lost my mental game conditioning to play full contact roller derby.
Dance, theater, hitting the park and streets in my new spiffy Chaya Lifestyle Melrose Elite skates, more travel!
I’d also like to work towards making roller derby safer for all players’ brains.
I would love for leagues and teams all over the world to:
- Engage in discussion not only about concussions but raise awareness about subconcussive impacts as well.
- Research and share information about helmets and safety gear which can help decrease head impact injuries.
- Consider making changes to the ruleset.
- Strategically plan practices and training.
- Look into the research being done for other contact sports (keep in mind it is limited to mostly cis-male subjects).
- Seek out recommendations for how to minimize subconcussive hits – the Concussion Legacy Foundation advocates for three pillars as a start:
- Delay the introduction of contact (Age appropriate rules).
- Eliminate contact where unnecessary.
- Modify contact where appropriate.
While I am looking forward to 2019 and the new adventures it has in store for me, I would love to one day play roller derby again.
If you have any ideas on how to make the sport safer or have more derby focused concussion information to share, please feel free to hit me up:
I can’t wait to see all the amazing things the Team Chaya skaters do and the new innovations Chaya will come up with next year.