Skater Profile: Hustle

Before she ever geared up and skated onto a derby track, Hustle (second from left) volunteered for the Cincinnati Rollergirls as a non-skating official and frequently profiled other skaters for CRG’s website. Now, after trying out for the team three times, she’s a skater herself – and ready to tell her own story.

You may not know me, but I’ve been around for about three years as a non-skating official (NSO) for the Cincinnati Rollergirls. Now I’m considered Fresh Meat.
I’ve always been considered too big to be attractive, and too aggressive to be feminine. I felt like in order to live life, I had to somehow change myself first.
After I graduated college, I felt lost. The only thing I had left of me was my love of roller derby. So, while in the worst shape of my life, I decided to take up an activity I’d watched, but never tried.
My first night on skates, I threw up on the rink, and had to be held up by others. I clung to the wall like a cat avoiding a bath.
But I kept coming back. Soon, complete strangers became friends, and people started investing time in me.
During my first tryout, I knew I wasn’t ready. I could barely stop, and making it through the warmup was a challenge. I was the first one eliminated, and I wasn’t surprised.
Sometime between the first and second tryouts, I started CrossFit at CrossFit Cincinnati. If I was having a “down” day, chances were I’d at least experience success in one thing. This shifted my perspective of failure and comparing myself to others.
For the second tryout a year later, I felt more prepared, but still not ready. I made it through to the end, but wasn’t taken because of a tangible lack of confidence, and a need to improve my footwork.
Now, I was pissed.
Not at the coaches, not at the people around me, but at myself. I guess I’m like Bobby Boucher from The Waterboy in that I have to get mad to succeed. I was tired of holding myself back.
Everyone supported me, so why couldn’t I do the same? So many people had invested in me at this point. Everyone from CRG and the Cincinnati Battering Rams men’s team to CrossFit Cincinnati. It was time that I paid up.
When the third tryout date was announced, I started skating four to five times a week. I continued CrossFit, and I got uncomfortable. I told myself “this was it,” there was no other option at this point. On the day of the third tryout, my nerves were eating at me. Yes, I was still slow, yes, I still got nervous. But I knew I was ready.
When the tryouts were over, and the announcement was made that I had made the team, the feeling I had can’t be described. Can you imagine a family reunion where you love every person there? Where every individual has contributed to your success? Every person was owed a hug, and my face literally hurt from smiling. It was simultaneously the best accomplishment of my life, and the most humbling experience I’ve ever had.
Derby has taught me a lot of things about myself. And in many ways, it’s freed me from myself. I stopped waiting to live my life. I bought my first pair of shorts in four years. My first compression fitness clothing. I went swimming without hiding.
I went from hating my body to understanding its quirks and purpose. I’m short and stocky, so I’m super flexible in CrossFit. My legs are big. But they lift weights, and help me get low. My butt has always been big. But now, I can do a lot of squats, and I use it to hit others.
Oh, and the aggression? I realized a funny thing. There was a whole team – a whole family – that shared that trait. I’m not the only one anymore.
As I said, I’m Fresh Meat, so I know I’m still going to have my ass handed to me. Even though I’m in better shape than I was, I’m still slow, and my legs still cramp. But unlike when I started derby, I now know I can get better. And I don’t have to be just like everyone else to do it.
For more information on tryouts, click here.