Navigating the derby insurance maze

The amount of roller derby enthusiasts has grown steadily in Finland but the sport does not have a long history yet. That is exactly how insurance companies see the sport, too. Insurance prices range from 50 euros up to hundreds of euros a year. There are also several coverage issues.

During the past year derby insurances have been a topic for discussion both among the skaters and in media. In February, Helsingin Uutiset was the first newspaper to address the issue by publishing an article about the possible reasons for the high prices of insurances for derby and other “high-risk” sports.

In October, the Finnish radio channel YleX interviewed Riitta-Liisa Salonen, Head of Personal Insurance at the insurance company If and Päivi Vuorenmaa, Product Manager at the insurance company LähiTapiola. If does not offer roller derby insurances at all.

Riitta-Liisa Salonen says in the interview that in a fast-paced contact sport such as roller derby where the action happens on wheels and in a tight pack of people, there is a great risk of injury. “Typical injuries include sprained or twisted knees, ankles, elbows or shoulders and the treatment of such injuries is relatively challenging”, Salonen says. However, the attitude towards ice hockey for instance is quite different. According to Salonen, the reason is that ice hockey already has a long history as a sport. “We have the statistics of different injuries from a long period of time so we can clearly see what the development has been like”, Salonen says. The fact that roller derby is a fairly new sport is a major factor, Salonen notes. “It takes some time to see how the sport develops in the long run”, she concludes.


On transfers - a quick guide to breaking your own heart

Let's get something out of the way: yes, I'm the girl who switched leagues twice within 3 months.

I am the girl who thought long and hard before being ready to let go and move on. I am the girl who learnt that to be able to grow and get better, she has to actively pursue different possibilities and that
it is okay. I am the girl who feels good about the choices she has made.

There is no drama to any of this, just love of roller derby and learning. I think it’s in human nature to fi
nd someone to blame, but in this break-up, it really isn’t you, it’s me.

When you've been in a league from the get go, like I had, the decision to move on isn't one that you make lightly. I battled with myself for weeks, but eventually I had to do what was right for me. Yes, you can tell me that roller derby is a team sport and I should've thought of my league. Trust me, I did. I thought about it so much that the bus drivers in my town must have nick-named me “the girl who cries all the time”. I thought about it from as many different angles as I could, but once the idea of transferring gets in your head, you are on the path already, and it becomes just a matter of time. You wouldn’t be thinking about it, if you didn’t think you could be happier somewhere else. I could see myself letting go of my team little by little, and it wasn't fair for them either. I didn’t want to become the person who stays out of obligation, and becomes bitter. So I had to make the decision, think of how and where I could grow and learn, and go from there. 


And just imagine breaking up with 20 people at the same time. What you have ahead of you is seeing your past move on without you, and it will break your heart all over again, no matter how well you think you've prepared for it. Seeing all those people, who used to be your people, move on and keep going. Nothing ends for them, like it does for you. They keep doing what they did, just without you. They still go to practice like before, they plan for future bouts, they do things you’ll know nothing about. You make memories with other people now.

We spend so much time together in roller derby that you get invested in the people you do it with. We've had people quit or transfer before as well, and it should be a normal part of the sport. Roller derby is the first group sport activity to so many of us, and quite possibly a life changing one at that, and I get how it can seem almost like a personal insult when someone says they don't want to keep at it with you. However, to qualify as a good friend, a good teammate, a good coach, the only way to react is to be supportive. To trust that people have given the idea enough thought when they finally bring it up. To not guilt them or try to change their mind. Not everyone is bound to want the same things, be ready to work for the same goals, be prepared to put in the hours. There are so many ways to conduct a roller derby league, and it might take time to find your place, and
that is okay as well. Transferring because of a new job, starting university, moving to another town - those are the most common reasons to transfer, I’d gather.

I stayed exactly where I was, and transferred to a league in another town, because I needed to challenge myself more. I did it for me. I was selfish. But this is my life, and I only get one shot. I don’t want to live my life with
what if’s. I have finally found something I feel I am good at, and feel ambitious about, so the best possible way I know how to act is to find a place where I can grow and get even better.  First I transferred to a league that I still admire, but I didn’t end up finding my place there either. Sometimes you don’t know where you are going, and when you’re eventually there, you might find out that the timing isn’t right. And in a sport that is developing as fast as roller derby is, there isn’t really time to wait around, is there? So I had to re-evaluate my goals, and I realized that I wasn’t where I had planned to be.

Now I am in a place where I am challenged. I don’t take anything for granted. I have to work for my place in the team just like everyone else. Nothing is given to me on a silver platter, I couldn’t just waltz in and do my thing. That’s not how it works, nor should it. I go to practice, I watch footage, I talk with people. I plan, I plot, I do things that make me better as a coach. Better for my team, better for myself. I make mistakes, and learn from them. I make good calls too, and realize how much I’ve learnt. And all that and everything in between is exactly what I want to be doing.

My path hasn’t been the straightest because of the choices I’ve made, but now that I feel like I’ve found my place, I truly appreciate it. Things happen for a reason, but it might take a while to see what that reason is. And everything will be alright in the end. So don’t make this something it’s not. The track is big enough for all of us.

// Anna Miettinen