FROM READERS: Columbia roller derby is about community support

Friday, February 21, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CST

Morgan Swartz is a member and non-skating official of the CoMo Derby Dames. Swartz has been involved with roller derby since 2011.

Moving is hard. Really hard. In the past three years, I have packed up everything and relocated to a new state twice. It’s always challenging to leave behind your social networks, start a new job, and then try to build a new circle of friends. But in 2011, I discovered roller derby.

Three days after moving to Lansing, Michigan, I attended my first roller derby practice – despite having not skated in 10 years. Immediately, I had practices and events to attend, friends to go out with, and strong connection to the community. When I moved again to Columbia, I sought out the local roller derby team – the CoMo Derby Dames – to help me find a new place here.

Now, just six months later, Columbia is really starting to feel like home. When I broke my ankle, fellow Derby Dames stayed with me through surgery, lent me crutches, and constantly offered words of encouragement and support. I’ve also seen how they rally around each other during times of loss, as well as gathering to celebrate and support the local community. That is what I love about roller derby. It’s a great sport – it requires endurance, agility, strength, and incredible athleticism – but roller derby is also a community. And it’s always helped me feel like I’m home.

I won't be skating in the first home bout of 2014 this Saturday in Jefferson City's Sk8 Zone, but I'm really excited to be serving as a non-skating official (look for me in the penalty box!). Which brings me to my last point – you don't have to skate to become a part of the roller derby community. Leagues always need more volunteers, more non-skating officials, and more support. So I know that even if I can't go back to active skating, I'll always have a place with the CoMo Derby Dames.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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