Roller Derby and her fellow Hellcats helped Jamie Lee (aka Miss Amerikill) turn her life around
I'm in the Hellcats locker room before a TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls Roller Derby bout, and Jamie Lee is in the bathroom stall, telling me that Roller Derby has saved her life.
"I was a drunk for 12 years. It started in my early teens, and basically, the party just didn't end, even after I started skating."
Known as Miss Amerikill, Jamie Lee joined the Hellcats just as soon as she could. "I remember seeing Roller Derby when I was 17, and I was like, 'I am going to do this!'" she tells me later, after the Hellcats beat the Holy Rollers last Sunday at the Austin Convention Center. "My dad was a musician, and I was always around these rock star dudes. I wanted that. I wanted to be a rock star, except I'm not musical. But here were these girls that had these crazy sexy outfits and these wild badass personas, and it just took my breath away. Some of them are dentists or teachers or whatever, but in the rink they're someone completely different, and that's what I wanted."
Until February, the nonstop partying was part of that project. The team would usually hit a bar after a bout, and, invariably, Jamie Lee took things to a whole other level. "I was always either wasted or hung over. Everything took a back seat to drinking" – until, that is, she decided she'd had enough.
So had her teammates.
"I show up for practice after throwing up all over the place the night before, and I'm sweating Jim Beam, and nobody is talking to me. It's like: 'Ouch! This is not going to be fun.' But then we all go outside, and they've decided they're going to have an intervention. Everybody told me how much I had done for them but how lately, I was just sucking it all away. You don't realize how self-centered you become. You don't think about the people you're hurting. So we just talked about that, and there was a little crying. Okay, a lot of crying. And I told them I wanted to do this, to get sober, and I needed their help. That was five months ago."
So, yeah, it wasn't really the skating that changed Jamie Lee's life. It wasn't taking out her aggressions in the rink, as much as she enjoys doing so. It wasn't even having a tough-as-nails alter ego to slip into. What made all the difference was having a group of women who cared about her and realizing how much she cared about them. It's the belonging that gave her strength.
"Roller Derby gave me that. I feel like I can do anything now. I have that unstoppable feeling. I'm more comfortable with myself. Because of all of the support and love the Hellcats have given me, I've realized I don't have to be tough all the time, full of rage and fear. I can just be myself, and, yes, part of that is being Miss Amerikill, the badass, but another part is just being Jamie Lee, just content with myself."
Please write Mr. Hackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.