For Mack Schneider, there are two things in the world: roller derby and everything else. Since happening upon the sport about three years ago, Schneider has quickly moved up through the ranks to become a sought-after roller derby trainer and fierce competitor. But more importantly, Schneider said their involvement in the Ohio Roller Girls inspired them to recover from an eating disorder and become part of an empowering feminist community. Now Schneider is working to make roller derby not only a hobby, but a livelihood as well, opening Columbus' only roller-derby-centric shop, Next Level Skate Shop (4410 Indianola Ave.). On Nov. 29, Schneider is opening the doors to the public and taking the next step at making their derby dreams a full-on reality.

Editor's note: Mack Schneider identifies as non-binary and prefers to use plural pronouns.

For Mack Schneider, there are two things in the world: roller derby and everything else. Since happening upon the sport about three years ago, Schneider has quickly moved up through the ranks to become a sought-after roller derby trainer and fierce competitor. But more importantly, Schneider said their involvement in the Ohio Roller Girls inspired them to recover from an eating disorder and become part of an empowering feminist community. Now Schneider is working to make roller derby not only a hobby, but a livelihood as well, opening Columbus' only roller-derby-centric shop, Next Level Skate Shop (4410 Indianola Ave.). On Nov. 29, Schneider is opening the doors to the public and taking the next step at making their derby dreams a full-on reality.

Roller Derby is my whole life. There is nothing like it. I was having a really hard time in my life, I had relapsed [with my eating disorder] two or three times, and was dealing with some tough mental health stuff. I don't remember how it became a thing in my life; I just decided to go try it. I went to a "wannabe clinic" and everybody was like, "Wow, you're really good at skating." I used to play very competitive [Tier 1 Elite Hockey League] ice hockey, but I had never even watched a roller derby bout. I made it a point to watch one of the games, and I thought, "This is amazing. I want to do this!" A few weeks later I tried out for the actual league.

Roller derby was the only thing that was stronger than my eating disorder. Roller derby is so much more than a sport; it's a community. It feels so awesome to be a part of this inclusive, supportive group. The whole competitive, "girl-hate" thing doesn't exist there. Everyone lifts each other up. We all, as a league, want to be better together, and that feels really incredible. It's an amazing support system for me and helped me through a lot of my body image stuff. Part of the reason I decided to recover from my eating disorder as an adult was because I wanted to be good at roller derby. If I wanted the energy to skate and be better, I had to take better care of myself.

I needed to make roller derby what I was doing with my life. Opening my shop was pretty terrifying. I'm actually a pretty "play it safe" type person. I'm pretty neurotic with a lot of stuff. But I was in a place where I thought, "What I am doing right now isn't fulfilling. I need to figure out what my next thing is." Everybody was saying we needed a skate shop, so I sent out a market survey and people seemed really supportive. Rearranging your whole life to open a business is terrifying, but so far I've had a lot of support that eased my nerves. Plus, the way things have come together for me through this process, it's like the universe is giving me a nod and a wink. This is what I need to be doing right now, even if it fails miserably.

There just aren't roller derby shops in Columbus. The closest shop is Skater's Edge in Cleveland. You either drive two hours, or wait for a tournament to get skates and gear, or take your chances ordering online. I want the other participants to have access to the gear they need to keep themselves safe and keep rolling. Roller derby is underserved in Columbus. Of all towns, I'd figure Columbus would be more into it, since people here are totally into alternative sports. I always feel surprised that we don't have a regular following, but we are still able to fill our venues pretty well when we play. I think it's definitely growing.

Women and trans people owning businesses is important. Politically, I am pretty anti-capitalist, so it was hard for me to justify becoming a participant in the capitalist system. I came to the conclusion that being able to garner resources for a community and reinvest in that community was valuable. I think women and trans-identifying people owning businesses can begin to dismantle the systems that are presently in place. There is no such thing as ethical consumption, so it's about which is the lesser evil. Being able to call the shots on how I consume things as a business, how I treat employees and how I treat other consumers is a really big deal.