Note: This post originally appeared on April 27 in the Squamish Chief newspaper.

By: Kathleen Lane (a.k.a. Candy Pain Lane)

If someone told me I would grow up to be a roller derby athlete, I wouldn’t have believed it.

Failing has always been my biggest fear. In elementary school, I was discouraged for being overweight. 

A lot of it related to being bullied, a lack of support from certain teachers, and family life. It would be easy to point the finger at peers and teachers for growing up with such little belief in myself, but really, I am the only one to blame. 

When I was 20 years old, my father died in a car accident. He was the spine of my life. When he passed, the fear of failing grew stronger because I wanted to make him proud. 

This affected my adult life. I was in an unhealthy relationship for four and a half years, got into debt, was too scared to get a driver’s licence, worked multiple jobs for security instead of pursuing my passions and rejected the option of counselling. 

A few years ago, I moved back to Squamish from the city. 

Many people I lost touch with had progressed in their lives. It was hard to relate. I was 29 and living with my mother. But then I discovered the Sea to Sky Sirens, and everything changed.  Each practice was a physical and emotional challenge. 

In time, I became close with these strong and unique women.

Their support, personal successes and perspectives on life made me see the possibilities of my own.

One day, I started making changes. A fellow freshie taught me how to drive. She leant me her car to take the driver’s test, which I passed. Soon afterwards, I bought my own ride. 

Our team photographer organized a boudoir shoot that boosted my confidence to embrace my curves. 

I attended counselling for a year. 

I made healthier life choices, changing my eating habits and embarking on a routine of daily exercise. 

I dealt with family issues, got out of debt, and purchased my first home. I ended a relationship that didn’t make me happy before investing too much time into it. I learned how to take constructive feedback without taking it personally.

With hard work and patience, I made the roster for the WSSF Scar Wars game in Whistler. 

A year ago, I watched these women skate their hearts out. 

Now, I can say the same. 

When you are surrounded by strong-willed people, good things happen. Subconsciously, you want to grow and be the best version of yourself. Many sports have this effect, but roller derby is special. There is a place for everyone. 

In the derby community we need diverse people. It doesn’t matter if you’re short, big-boned, petite, man or woman, able to take a hit or not. The doors are open for anyone willing to learn. 

There are aspects of my life that I’m still working on. But just like derby, I am learning to take one hit at a time and get right back up. 

Those interested in trying out roller derby can apply to join the Sea to Sky Sirens at facebook.com/Sea.to.Sky.Sirens.