PSA: Get Out There and Support Your Roller Girls!
As a woman, have you ever thought about joining a team sport? I know I certainly had not… at least until our ‘family skate night’ started getting all these chicks in black fish-nets and hot pants showing up. I knew they were my kinda girls – and lo and behold, they were derby girls! I tried it, and ultimately it’s not for me to play, but I LOVE seeing my sister play! My sister is a roller girl – she’s a jammer for the Spindletop Rollergirls and she is amazing.
There are a lot of misconceptions about roller derby – that it’s violent or dangerous, or that it’s not a kid-friendly environment or that it’s a ‘rough crowd’. While there certainly may be elements of that in some areas, it’s not a dynamic that I’ve seen – and certainly it’s less violent than other team sports! The people who love roller derby are there to support the athletes and enjoy the game – just like any other sporting event. And since many of them are completely normal in every way – some have children with them, even babies – they’re polite and friendly and kind, just as you would expect.
The women who play roller derby are not who you think they are, either. Sure, they may be tattooed or have hair that’s dyed a funky color and names that might scare you off, but once you strip away the Roller Girl Persona, you’ll find moms, lawyers, housewives, entrepreneurs, teachers – women you see at the bank or the grocery store – or your kids’ school! Watching these women on and off the track is a pleasure – you can see how hard they’ve worked to become a single unit with every interaction between team mates. That camaraderie and confidence has to carry over into other areas of their lives. How Roller Derby Can Save Your Life is an article that talks about the seldom-seen from the outside benefits of being on a team, and it’s what made me want to write this post. Women often think that sports are ‘not for them’, and derby is helping to change that. It’s a cool think to see!
Think roller derby is not for kids? Think again! Every game we’ve been to has had a ton of kids there. Roller derby isn’t such a formal game that the kids are banished to seats, sitting still for hours on end. It’s a fast-paced game with lots of people standing up and hollering and cheering. There is usually a lot of space for kids who are more active, so they can get up and play – even running around is fine. Encourage your kidlet to pick a favorite team member – make posters and yell her name. She’ll be flattered to see her name glittering in the team’s colors. And if you’re homeschooling, there’s a math lesson to be had in the counting and points system, as well as an opportunity to talk about pack behavior (tie that to wolves) and team sportsmanship.
Ever thought about playing roller derby? First of all, throw out your preconceived notions. Roller derby is a sport, first and foremost. These women are athletes – they train hard, they play hard. But they do it with safety in mind. That’s not to say that injuries don’t occur (just ask Ruby Ridikule, whom we wish the very speediest of recoveries…), but then you get nifty things like titanium rods inserted so you’ll never break that leg again! Just like any sport, there is an element of risk – but what’s life without a little bit of terror thrown in to keep you on your toes? Ask any roller girl why she does it and she’ll probably mention something about skating being cheaper than therapy. That was mentioned in the article and I know that’s true because I’ve actually heard other roller girls say something along those lines. Aside from getting into shape – and I’ve watched several of these women shape their bodies and get toned and fit over the last year and a half – it’s also a great way for “me time”. There are also opportunities for you to get your family involved in your sport. My sister’s husband and daughter often train with her in both team-planned and free time sessions – biking, outdoor skating, running – it’s a great way for families to get some exercise together, too.
If you’d like to give it a try, pick up your gear – you’ll need skates (you need derby skates, not roller-rink skates), knee and elbow pads, mouth guard and helmet:
and head out to Manning’s Roller Rink on College and give the Recreational League a try. They do have a couple of sets of borrow-able gear, but if you want those, come early!! The Rec League meets every Sunday at 8PM and it’s $7.00 per person (must be 18). If you’re not in this area, then check your local roller rinks and see if there’s a derby league in your area.
If playing isn’t for you, then commit to taking your kids out to see a game. Check here to find a League in your area. Be sure to check the Apprentice League section for newer and not-yet-listed leagues. You’ll have a great time, and so will the kids! Not sure how roller derby is played? Watch this beforehand so you know what’s going on: Roller Derby Explained . Learn more about Roller Derby at the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association website.