This post was guest written by ChronicBabe Sandra Gordon.


The Olympics has just finished and we are all sitting on our couches, thinking it might just be time to get up and do something. But then we think that’s easier said than done… or is it?

I have Crohn’s disease. I diagnosed when I was 16 – quite a long time ago. When my symptoms hit, I had just achieved one of my best finishes in a 3K cross-country run, was curling regularly, was only a couple of years away from a black belt in karate, and was taking lifeguard training. Once I became ill, the most exercise I got was a quick dash to the bathroom.

Six months later, things looked pretty different – in a good way. I gave up running and changed curling teams, but continued with karate, albeit at a slower pace. How was it possible? Open discussion with my sensei about what I could do and what I needed help with. I was allowed to sit down when needed and dash off to the bathroom without notice. I never got that black belt but I did have fun, and that was the point!

I have been able to lead a pretty active life through good medication, diet, and surgeries (eventually a stoma in 2005). But I also know that is not the case for everyone. There is also a big difference in changing your expectations when you are 16 compared to 30 or 40.

The Mighty Mountie in the heat of a game. Photo by Thomas Pihl.

The Mighty Mountie in the heat of a game. Photo by Thomas Pihl.

Back to getting off the couch:

Now, I am a 40-something adult living in the third country in my life and working in the fourth. I don’t do karate, curling is not a thing here, and running… only for the bus. So what am I doing now?

Roller derby, of course! But not how you think. I am a skating official (referee).

This short essay can’t fit all the fun I have! But I can tell you life is different on the other side of sport. Behind every sporting event there are officials. Sometimes you need to be more able-bodied, and sometimes you just need to sit in a chair and understand the rules and the game. There are people who handle stats and organize players and officials on the day; they don’t have to have the most able bodies. There are also people who, before the event happens, book the hall, arrange the contracts with the teams, and arrange for sponsors and treasurers. Some of those positions don’t even require you to leave your house, but they are critical to making sporting events happen.


Non-competitive options for sport:

That is where you, as a ChronicBabe, can come in. Maybe your situation does not allow you to be a player, but every game needs officials, coaches, and volunteers.

If you once were a player, the transition to official or coach is a rewarding one.

Helping make the sport you enjoy happen, even if it is just making phone calls to book a hall, is rewarding. You are part of the team and you will be just as proud and happy about a successful event as you would be performing on a winning team.

I highly recommend flat track roller derby as a friendly place to start. It is a fairly new sport and there are teams popping up all over the world. Leagues are making an effort to be as inclusive as possible and you don’t need to know a lot about the sport to get involved. If you want to skate, they will teach you. If you are up for a non-skating position, there are many to choose from.

Currently, most leagues would kill to have more (or any) dedicated non-skating officials! I have worked with officials who walk with the aid of crutches, and we have discussed how to work with a wheelchair in the middle. Anything is possible.

So, babe, do a little web search for the sport you love (as an athlete or potential referee or administrator) and drop them a line. I am sure they will be happy to have you. You might not be the next Olympic champion, but you might help make one!


Sandra post-game with non-skating officials (pictured in pink) and other volunteers. Photo by Thomas Pihl.

Sandra post-game with non-skating officials (pictured in pink) and other volunteers. Photo by Thomas Pihl.



**This is the fourteenth of many in a guest contributor series. If you would like to be considered as a guest writer for ChronicBabe, visit this link.**