About this time of year, many parents are grappling with empty nest syndrome. Children have left for college and the reality of facing life alone begins to settle in. The Early Show Correspondent Melinda Murphy found one mother who has figured out a unique way to combat these empty nest blues.
Murphy recalls that when she left for college, her mother got involved in charity projects. Her best friend's mom took classes at the local college. But the Texas mother she's about to introduce you to found something a bit more unusual to fill her time.
Beth Marsh owns her own sign business in Austin, Texas. She has won an award for Entrepreneur of the Year.
And she does charity events for a child advocacy group where she's on the board of directors.
But it's what Beth does for fun that's a bit unique: She's a roller derby queen, known as "Reyna Terror" on the track.
And believe it or not, her teenage daughter, Sarah, introduced her to the sport.
Sarah says, "I heard they were having tryouts for the next season. It's real aggressive and she's kind of aggressive. And it's real energetic and she's got a lot of energy."
So Beth tried out and made the team. And because of roller derby, Beth says, "I'm the happiest I've ever been." Which was exactly what Sarah had hoped for.
Sarah says to her mother, "It was kind of like I had a little plan, but you didn't know about it. I was trying to do this so that you could exercise, you could have fun and you could meet people."
In other words, Beth adds, "I could detach from being a mommy."
Detaching was tough. After all, the two were more like best friends than mother and daughter. Sarah was the focus of Beth's life.
Beth says, "We used to get ready for bed -who could get their pajamas on fastest. I always let her win."
Beth has been a single mom since Sarah was just 7 months old. Through the years, the two have been inseparable, which meant Beth didn't have much time for making other friends.
Beth says, "She's been my whole life, for the past 18 years, and I loved it."
But all that changed when Sarah left for college. And like Sarah hoped, roller derby has filled the void and a whole lot more.
Beth says, "I have girlfriends, sexy strong women girlfriends. It's just a bond that I never had before."
It is a bond with gals whose 9 to 5 lives include everything from being a student to a fundraiser.
The point of roller derby is for the woman with the star on her helmet to pass the other team's players for points. It's a pretty brutal battle. This is not a sport for the faint-of-heart.
One woman had two broken wrists in a year. Beth herself has an injured knee. I gave it a try and was a bit luckier.
I was pretty tough, but I still wasn't ready for the big game.
Sarah says she has seen a change in her mom since she started playing. She was there when Beth's team - the Hustlers - won the final of the Texas Rollers, and says to her, "I think you're more outgoing and you have a lot better friendships, I think."
Perhaps all the more special because they were friendships brought to Beth by her best friend of all, her daughter.
Sarah is actually the team's mascot and shows up for all the games, so the two still get to spend time together.
If we've piqued your interest in roller derby, you're in luck. All-girl teams are now forming in Florida, Colorado and California. so the sport is definitely on its way back.
Copyright 2003 CBS. All rights reserved.