Push. Shove. Derby love.
Yeah, go ahead and laugh. Really, I am.
A friend of mine asked me the other day why I’ve gotten so involved in this when, in her words, “it’s about the last thing on earth that I could imagine you doing.” Her reasoning was that I’m not particularly athletic or of the punk rock/DIY aesthetic, she’s never known me to pursue a sport of any kind, and (the funniest one) she didn’t think I was the violent type. So allow me to explain why I’m finding myself ‘married to the derby’, and hopefully dispel some mistruths about roller derby in the process.
Back in February, I got a myspace invite from one of the women who was starting this fledgling roller derby league. I checked out their page, and their myspace group, and the more I thought about it, the more it sounded like fun. The problem, however, was that I simply couldn’t get up the courage to join them out on the rink! A month or so went by and I finally ventured out to the rink to test my skating legs. It had been a good ten years since I’d wobbled around on skates, and I WAS AWFUL. I went home that night determined to get better, and to find out everything I could on the sport.
My friend’s trepidation regarding my sudden transformation from mild-mannered slacker to bruising skater was understandable. I was the wallflower, not the dancer; the wing(wo)man, not the drink recipient; the one in the corner, against wall, in the back. I guess the best explanation I can muster is that something in me decided that I’d like to sit at the front once in awhile, and what better way to assert yourself than flying around the rink in a short skirt and full set of pads– being equal parts reckless and calculating?
Roller derby is a sport that is impossible to pigeonhole. It’s been explained as NASCAR on skates, a description which I abhor. It’s a racing/blocking/strategic game, played on quad skates on a small circular track that just happens to lend itself well to theatrics.
I’m learning that our team is made up of women of all backgrounds: business owners, computer programmers, office managers and social workers; stay-at-home moms and students; waitresses, bartenders, hairdressers and artists; even scientists and lawyers. There are no stereotypes, only opportunities; no rivalries, only camaraderie and support. The more I get to know these quirky, affable and bold women, the more I love being part of this team—and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
So, in a nutshell, that’s why I’m a rollergirl.
Wanna race me around the rink?