Muaw Ha Ha started skating with the Roller Dames in September of 2012, after being cleared for full activity following a stem cell transplant. Muaw and her new cells have been cancer-free for more than a year and they plan to stay that way.
Why do I skate? I have to admit, when I first heard this question, I cocked my head to the side and just stared with dumbfounded amazement. It was quite possibly the stupidest question I had ever heard uttered in my 29 years of life. Wow, just… wow. How could anyone ask such a silly, silly, question. It was like asking why I breathe, or why I am right handed. How could one not skate? I shook my head and smiled, it was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud. Wow, just…. Wow.
That day as I laid down for bed (don’t judge, I work nights), I found myself revisiting the shear ridiculousness’ of the question. Why do I skate? Then, like a red bull before bed… I couldn’t sleep. The answers were obvious to me and plentiful. I had found a new family of diverse men and women I never knew existed. I had found confidence, courage, and strength I had no idea I had. I had found an outlet for my complicated life. A place where I could be a part of something bigger then myself, help the community I lived in, and charities I never knew existed. Finally, I found a home where I could genuinely, laugh, love, cry, and be myself. How could one not skate?
But, still the sweet allure of sleep would have to wait. There was something deeper to this question. It was not why would a person skate, but rather why the hell would I. For anyone who has met me it is easy to see what attracted me to roller derby in the first place; amazing women, a team, and a full contact sport. All of which are right up my alley. However, for all my enthusiasm, roller derby seemed a little too crazy for me at first. Don’t laugh! Have you ever been to a bout? Those women are crazy. Hurling their body’s around like pro football players, all the while, skating at break neck speeds. CRAZY! I don’t even like to go fast, and I definitely don’t like to fall on my face in public. Yet, here was a sport where that is all you do. Go fast, get hit, fall down, then get up and do it again. Ahhh… no thank you, so why then am I skating?
At first, it was an adventure, something new and exciting for my humdrum life. From the outside looking in it was all one big party. You beat people up and then meet them at the bar later to buy them a drink. I was intrigued by the fact that these girls would get caught off guard, hit, go down (sometimes very awkwardly and painfully), and then smile as they get back up, like they’d gotten a genuine sense of satisfaction from the hit. Who does that? I had to meet them and find out why they were all so crazy. But, to my dissatisfaction, I found a normal group of girls. Not all of them were tattooed, with crazy haircuts, and alternative life styles. They were (and this is a complement for any derby girl reading this), just like me. They were professionals, stay at home moms, students, teachers, dreamers, and survivors. They were nothing like I had imagined. I had a picture of absolute bad asses in my head. Don’t get me wrong, these girls could easily kill me if they wanted to, but they were simply and perfectly… ordinary. That was the first time I thought, maybe I could do this.
After a few practices and my first bout, I came to be a part of this amazing family of women. They are my sisters, my friends, and now my most trusted confidants. I can’t believe I had lived my life before them. I am still new to this family, still learning my place, but I feel as if I had always belonged. I find myself constantly seeking the approval of my big sisters, and killing myself to meet and exceed their expatiations of me. Not just as a skater, or a member of the team, but as a human being. Usually, this respect is reserved for blood family members. Here however, we have all bled and earned the respect of the women holding the line next to us. On and off the track we truly are family, drama and all. I think this is my biggest reason for skating. My sisters are there for “my not so bright moments”, to loan me money when I am in a jam, give me a bible verse when I need a pick me up, and take me to the bars when that doesn’t work. My new family is big, diverse, and sometimes a little weird. But show me a family that isn’t.
Now, that I have begun to make my own crazy mark on this amazing world of roller derby, I find myself looking for more challenges. The awesome party I once thought roller derby to be, turn out to be a lot of hard work and sweat. Practice 3 times a week, work outs, beating the ground for sponsors and advertisers, attending charity functions, fundraisers, and all the while maintaining a full time job and a family. Bring it on! I strangely love it! I am constantly busy, in pain, and full of excitement for the next big accomplishment. Limitless challenges and opportunities to shine drive most of my thoughts today. I skate to be better than the girl next to me. To be smarter, quicker, and hit harder than the girls who dare to step on the track with me. Maybe I am a bit competitive, but just maybe I am brimming with the newfound confidence and strength I have found in this sport.
No two skaters are the same. No two skaters skate for the same reasons. I know now that I skate to live, to do something amazing, for I am someone amazing because I skate. Finally, I can sleep!