Autumn and cooler weather are right around the corner, so it’s no coincidence our September Skater of the Month, Animal, is so very chill. Despite having trepidation about derby because she hadn’t skated since middle school, Animal became an RMRG member after passing tryouts in August of 2017, joining a summer Freshmeat class.
Animal is an easy figure to spot during the first hour reserved for the newer skaters, her solid figure usually clad in a burgundy tank top, working through the pack. Her laid back demeanor is a hallmark on the bench, track, or in her committees of HR and Event Planning. Animal was an important part of coordinating Rocky’s 2018 bout at Denver County Fair (one of our favorite but forever uniquely odd venues, that always presents its own set of idiosyncratic challenges).
Animal is not only a great contribution to the derby community, she also represents another important demographic; those who have struggled with substances and are overcoming. September is National Recovery month, and Animal, an individual that has fought with substance abuse, has offered to share her story:
“I left my parents’ house for the first time when I was 16. I began drinking heavily and smoking pot and doing pills in middle school and it quickly progressed. I struggled with homelessness since the age of 16 between here and California. I got sober at age 24.”
An integral part of Animal’s sobriety was sports, something that she was always passionate about, but lost in active addiction. She joined a sober sports league and when a friend encouraged her to try derby last year she figured she’d give it a shot. While Roller Derby is by no means a dry sport, Animal found the community and the sport itself a mainstay in helping her stay active and happy:
“Since being with RMRG I have been able to challenge myself both physically and mentally. This sport is AMAZING. While skating with Rocky I have met an amazing group of strong, passionate, compassionate, and supportive people.”
We thank Animal for her story. Such narratives are not always easy things for people to share, and stories like Animal’s are vital to normalizing and bringing to light an issue that affects more than 29.5 million people worldwide.
Animal says, “over the years I have become very honest and open about my recovery. It is something I am very proud of myself for. I have been shown nothing but love and support from everyone in the League. I am so grateful that I was introduced to this sport and the comradery that it brings.”
We are thankful to have Animal as a part of Rocky Mountain Rollergirls and would like to take this time to celebrate her and also to ask that you reflect on her parting words: “There is hope. Recovery is possible, and there is a beautiful life waiting after addiction. We are all fighting battles that no one knows anything about, and there is no shame in being a warrior.”