Why I Play Roller Derby – Kat-A-Tonic

South Side GirlsSkater Spotlight, Why I Derby

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Why I Derby! Kat-A-Tonic

What is the backstory on your Derby Name?

My Derby name, Kat-A-Tonic, comes from my attempt to incorporate a mental health word into a name. “Catatonia can be associated with a mental disorder which leads to unresponsiveness in someone who otherwise appears to be awake. It consists of a collection of several symptoms that appear together at the same time such as: oblivious inability to move or respond to stimuli, rigid body posture, little to no verbal communication, body remains in whatever position it is placed by another, lack of verbal response, holding a posture or position that goes against gravity, extreme or odd movements and mannerisms, frequent repetitive movements for no reason, agitation (for no reason), distorted facial expressions, repeating others’ words, repeating others’ movements, rigidity and automatic obedience.” I always poke fun at myself for not being the most graceful person on the floor while skating. I’m an awkward skater and this name just seemed so fitting for what I look like while I play derby. My derby number, #296.3, is also associated with mental health and it is the DSM-5 coding number for Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent Episode.

What do you do for a living?

I am a psychotherapist and in the past my work was practicing individual, family, and group therapy in a residential treatment center with unaccompanied children and adolescents from Latin America with severe mental health disorders. My passion has always been to provide therapy to the Latino community, specifically the immigrant population. Although, I am not practicing therapy at the moment, I continue to work with this population by doing psychosocial evaluations for legal cases, in which my report is utilized as evidence from an “expert witness testimony” to support the client’s immigration case. Outside of work, I am a single mother to my two year toddler. My son is my joy and all my time and energy goes to him. Thankfully, because of my job I am able to work 90% from home and be a stay at home working mother. We are very closely bonded and I enjoy spending time with him at playgrounds, the children museum, zoo, play spaces, etc. When I have the opportunity for alone time I enjoy anything I can get into such as eating, skating, movies, traveling, photography, volunteering, dancing, watching sports, concerts, etc. I am also a huge advocate for mental health, women issues, Latino issues, immigrant issues, environmental issues, social justice, and any group of individuals that have been oppressed. I try to rally, march, or simply share information about these topics with others to bring more awareness and discussion about these issues. I hope to start a blog/FB page soon to talk/share all topics surrounding mental health in my attempt to fight the stigma surrounding mental health.

When did you start roller derby?

I began roller derby in late October of 2018.

Why did you start derby?

I started roller derby as a way to do “me” time. At the time, motherhood, my career, and my personal life was overwhelming to me and I desperately needed time just for myself. I saw an ad for SSRD beginner’s boot camp on Facebook and after a few weeks of doing it I was hooked.

Has your why changed over the years?

Yes, definitely. The “me time” turned into an absolute love for the sport and I realized no matter what other self-care activity I engaged in, nothing came close to the benefits roller derby brought to my mental health. I love the sport because the chaos on the track is an incredible and healthy distraction from the chaos of my life. When I am having a rough day or week, derby is the one thing that immediately helps me release all of the negativity and stress I am experiencing; it is my form of therapy.

Advice to new skaters!

Be patient with yourself and enjoy the ride! I used to be very hard on myself for being one the slowest learners in the league and feeling like I wasn’t getting any better, it was very frustrating to me. I know now that is not true and I have gotten significantly better, just at a much slower pace than others. I have learned to embrace this crazy derby journey, have fun, but to put in the work so that I can get better. When I accomplish one small goal, I work toward another small goal and enjoy seeing my foot work and skills improve. A year into this sport I can still be very hard on myself but I don’t let it deter me from continuing to learn about the sport and going to practice.