About a year ago, two of my best friends boarded planes and headed across the sea to begin their European adventures sans yours truly. I waved good-bye, scratched my head, and wondered what the fuck I was supposed to do now that my friends were both gone. I don't remember exactly when the idea of roller derby came across my mind as a possible way to make new friends and let out some aggression, but I just remember spending hours online researching teams in Seattle, looking at the gear I would need, and watching videos of bouts on YouTube thinking, I bet I would be good at that…

But of course as I browsed the videos and websites there was this little voice in the back of my head that kept saying, Stop pretending, you can't do that. I believed that little voice, and in the end I let the fear of being rejected, or sucking, or not being tough enough keep me from stepping out from behind my computer screen. 

Then of course I lost my job, moved to Olympia, and before I knew it I was realizing that if I didn't take matters into my own hands and attempt to move beyond my sometimes crippling social anxiety, it would just be Adam and I staring at each other for eternity. The book group was a LIFE SAVING first step because it showed me that there were women in this new city that I could relate to. But I knew I needed to continue to push myself.

Then I read a post on All & Sundry on how Linda was going to step outside her comfort zone and run a half marathon. Even though it scared her, and she thought she couldn't do it, and her immediate impulse was to say NO for so many reasons, she was going to commit anyway. At the bottom of her post she dared her readers to think of the thing they immediately skirted away from, think of something that made our stomach twist simply at the thought of tackling it, and then DO IT. 

Ummmm I can't run a full, half or even one-sixteenth marathon, so that's out. I kept asking myself, what is there that I desperately want to do? What is there that lies just beyond my reach? What am I missing? What is out there that I felt like I would love completely and utterly but I'm just too chicken to actually tackle? For quite a while I was drawing serious blanks.

Then I went and saw Whip It.

And as I walked back to my car I remembered my fleeting roller derby dream. And how I love being on a team. And how I literally grew up on roller blades. And how even though roller blades and skates are NOTHING alike, I was pretty sure I could figure it out. And I remembered how I LIVE for dress up themed parties, how I desperately needed an evil alter ego, and how fucking thrilled beyond belief I would be if I tried this, and then found out that I did in fact love being a roller derby girl.

So I did. Sunday November 1st I fought the urge to vomit the ENTIRE drive to the stake rink, I gathered the strength needed to open the door to the rink, and I walked in the room and announced to a room full of bad ass women I desperately wanted to be friends with that I was Fresh Meat and would like a shot at being an Oly Roller. I shit you not, my heart has never beat faster in my entire life.

I survived the first practice. And the second, and even the third. And I am going to keep coming back for more until I can officially call myself a 'roller derby girl'. I have 60 days to practice with the team and see if this whole roller derby thing is for me. At the end of those 60 days I will be given a roller derby name, handed the worlds shortest shirt and a pair of fishnet tights and welcomed officially on board. I have no idea if this is my new love, or a fleeting hobby, but it doesn't even matter because I can say with actual certainty that I will never look back on my life and say, "I wish I had tried out for a roller derby team… I wonder if I would have been good at that?"

Want to know more about this sport I am jumping into? Here's a video called, Roller Derby Explained, and below I even tracked down a video on ESPN describing the Roller Derby Revival sweeping the nation since 2001.


People, I am most likely going to get my ass handed to me on a silver platter. Twice. And yet, I haven't been this excited in YEARS.

  • Jen A.

    This is AWESOME Ashley! Two years ago I visited my friend in Kentucky, and we went to see the Windy City Rollers, which is a flat-track roller derby team. We were loving the names so much, we started writing them down (but alas, I can’t remember them today)… Keep the internets appraised of your team status; I’m rooting for you!! :)

  • jen

    How exciting!! I can’t wait to hear how it goes for you. The thing that Linda made me think of with that post is snowboarding. I grew up in Washington and didn’t take the opportunity to learn while I lived there… and now I’m in Ohio. Where there’s maybe one hill big enough to ride down. For about 20 seconds. But as soon as I get my ass back out west, I’ll be on a mountain!

  • Ashley, The Accidental Olympian

    JEN A, I SUCK at picking out roller derby names! I think my team is the one to name me… but I’m not sure. You have any good ones, send them my way!!!


    JEN, if you have been meaning to take up snowboarding, I say DO IT!!!!!! I can’t even express how liberating finally tackling this has been for me. For so long it’s sort of bounced around in my brain but I’ve been too scared to do it. Now that I have, I feel like fucking Super Man. DO IT DO IT DO IT! And then tell me all about it. :)

  • Joy Jenkins, The Cauliflower Lollipop

    You are awesome! I am so trilled for you. I find my bad ass-ness lies in Bikram Yoga, slightly more sweaty and much less death defying, but nonetheless, I’m on your team! Ra Ra Ra.
    As for names, I think you should be Penny Pincher, or Ash Bash, or Peppermint Patty, I’m just saying. SHEWWWWW.
    Go get em!

  • Ashley, The Accidental Olympian

    JOY, I like Ash Bash… Mostly because it’s a little mean. :)

    Keep the names coming people!

  • Rio Gringa

    Hi Ashley,

    It’s funny, right before I got your comment on my blog I’d been reading through yours. It’s awesome, really really awesome, and the writing is great. I think you’re the new Dooce, and I can certainly relate more to you than to her, being that the recession pretty much screwed up all of my plans and dreams…anyhoo, glad I found you!

  • Ashley, The Accidental Olympian

    RIO, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for the amazingly nice comment!!!!!!

    I was reading through your blog as well and I was thrilled to see another 24 year old struggling to make it through this horrible economy. I don’t care what CNN says, I think the twentysomethings of this world are getting hit the hardest.

    Again, thanks so much for reading and the blog love!

  • marti

    Okay wow this totally suits you I mean whats not to like? skating, shorts skirts, and trash talking, oh yeah right up your alley. I can’t wait for the stories from this adventure. You are awesome, feel the fear and do it anyway. so I thought of a few names to throw in the ring, Skate Scalper,Tumwater Tracker, Ashterburner, RipnRoll, Olyroller,Bashley,Adambomber, Olympia Mauler, and my personal favorite Olyminator.. You roll girl!

  • jen

    Oooh I like the Olyminator too! Or “Hey Ash-hole” – IDK, too brash? Or Ash’n’Burn? Your name makes it easy, that’s for sure. :-)
    We’re hopefully (FULL OF HOPE) moving back west next summer, keep your fingers and toes and all that crossed for us. There are bits of Ohio I like, but Toledo? Hellz no. Ugh.

  • Ashley, The Accidental Olympian

    MARTI, I LOVE those suggestions! I am particularly partial to Ashterburner, Bashley, and Olympia Mauler! You and Joy have out done yourselves with roller derby names! Keep um coming you guys!

  • Ashley, The Accidental Olympian

    JENN ANN, I love AshnBurn! Here I was thinking I have the worlds most boring name, completely incapable of building on for any cool derby names and then BAM readers keep coming up with AMAZING names like AshnBurn! I am going to have to have some sort of name contest or something….

  • Cecily

    You are going to kick ASS!

  • Ashley, The Accidental Olympian

    Thanks Cec!!!!!!!!

  • kaj

    I’ve been helping some of the new gals on our league pick out names. One that I love, and that isn’t taken yet (that I can tell): Tara Bull.


  • Ashley, The Accidental Olympian

    KAJ- Thanks for commenting! I like Tara Bull. Is it a play off Red Bull for a girl named Tara? There is a girl on my league with the name Tannibal Lector and its probably one of my favorite derby names of all time. :)

    Thanks for stopping in, what league do you play for?