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Michele McFarland

Petite, soft-spoken Michele McFarland blends in among the crowd of sports moms dutifully standing on the sidelines of a skating rink to offer words of support and help with gear. The Denton mom of three – two sons, 25 and 13, and a daughter, 15 – is a loud supporter of her kids’ sports pursuits, but she shrugs off any attention paid to herself. Though she recently found a career she loves as a real estate agent, she describes herself as a wife and a mom first. She embraces the latter role by providing a home where her kids and their friends are always welcome, and she stays in touch with the endless stream of teenagers by being ready with a listening ear and plates of food.
 
Calm and welcoming, Michele’s motherly persona is upended – sometimes literally – when she takes her turn on the rink, donning the identity of “One Story Brick,” her roller-derby alter ego. (“One story brick” is a common descriptive in real-estate parlance.)  Strapping on skates at the North Texas Derby Revolution creates a dramatic attitude change in Michele, and her confidence and skill make it easy to forget the polite figure from before.
 
It was her kids, in fact, who turned her on to the rough-and-tumble sport she now loves. Daughter Becca was drawn to roller derby because it attracted such a diverse group of people. As Michele supported her daughter each week in practice, she had an inkling that she, too, might enjoy the sport. Although she had a background in figure skating, Michele told herself she wouldn’t get too involved. “I was just going to do it for the exercise and to meet some new people,” she says. “But now I want to compete.”
 
With the fire inside to do battle, Michele launched into the physically challenging task of learning the ropes of roller derby, which included lessons in falling safely and training off the track to strengthen her body against injuries. At times, she felt as though she were pushed to her physical limits, but her teammates pushed her to persevere. “The encouragement you get from the other women is key, which is refreshing, because women are often quick to be catty and put other women down,” she says. “Here, it is nothing but encouragement.”
 
And the sport does, in fact, attract an exceptionally diverse group of women. “Any shape or size can do it. You can be tiny or big, short or tall,” Michele says. “We have Sunday-school teachers, retired women, moms and college students. I’ve met some really great women that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.” The experience of roller derby has also brought Michele closer to Becca. “She’s always been a daddy’s girl, but this has given us a way to bond,” the 45-year-old mom says. “It’s given us a new way to relate and encourage each other.”
 
Michele brushes off both the stigma and safety issues of roller derby. It’s a skilled game with rules and penalties, not a free-for-all brawl on skates, she says. She challenges anyone who has questions about the sport to attend a bout (a roller-derby competition) to see what it’s all about. “You will walk away knowing that this is a real sport that requires great skill,” she says, adding that she always feels great after practice. That just leaves the question of safety, but Michele is even more convincing in her arguments and connects her roller-derby experience to a life lesson. “Everything has risk,” she says. “When I got my real estate license, there were things in that arena that were scary, but I don’t let fear stop me from trying. You can’t let fear dictate or you’ll never do anything.”