Derby and Diabetes

Maiden Hell (right) and Mugs Bunny (left) at one of our home bouts. Photo by 9 Muses.

Maiden Hell (right) and Mugs Bunny (left) at one of our home bouts. Photo by 9 Muses.

I have been a skater with the Chicago Outfit since 2017, but before that I was a skater with our little sister league, The Chicago Riots for 6 years. A story I don’t tell many people is that just a year before joining derby at age 12, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

As if the first year of middle school wasn't hard enough, diabetes was thrown into the mix, and there was nothing I could do about it. Throughout sixth grade I felt like I had less and less control over my body; seeing high and low blood sugars became discouraging both mentally and physically.

In seventh grade I found The Chicago Riots and knew it was something I wanted to try. My parents were hesitant to let me join, knowing that I was new to having this condition, and also new to using the insulin pump, but they saw how much I wanted it, and helped set me up with equipment to start my derby career. I had no idea I’d be in it for the long haul.

My first practice was horrifying. My insulin pump was still an awkward attatchment to my body that I didn’t know how to deal with. In derby you fall. A lot. I knew this, but falling with an insulin pump that was $1,000 was becoming worrisome; especially when I fell and the tube yanked out of my skin. It was extremely painful and the first thought that came to mind was, “Great. Another thing you can’t do because of diabetes.”

After months of attending practices, I found that as a developing athlete the pump was not a great fit for me and I decided to go back to injections. Just because my condition was no longer visible, it still had a tremendous impact on my gameplay. I started to learn more about my body and how it reacted to derby. I began to form a relationship with my body that I don’t believe I ever would have had if it weren’t for the combination of type 1 diabetes and roller derby in my life.

Playing roller derby with diabetes never gets easier, but you do get smarter. I make sure I test before practice, keep sugar with me, and let my teammates know when I am having an off day. The only real change that happens when dealing with your condition is how you choose to look at it. Instead of looking at diabetes as a disease or ailment, I just look at it as another unique aspect about myself.

I have now had Diabetes for nearly 10 years and I have not let it stop me from continuing to play the sport I fell in love with at age twelve.

Maiden Hell #98