Sugar and spice and everything nice are not the only things roller derby girls are made of. They also have skating skills, stirred in with attitude, a pinch of punk and a dash of humor. Roller derby originated in the 1930s and has reinvented itself over the decades. The contact sport is making a comeback in the form of amateur all-female flat-track roller derby. The sport is a combination of skill, attitude and fun and this beginner’s guide will help women become the roller derby girl they desire.
Making of a Roller Derby Girl: Skating Attitude
Women of all skating skill sets join roller derby leagues ranging from the experienced to those who have never set eyes on a pair of quad skates. Most roller derby wannabes last skated in high school. Whatever the skating experience, most roller derby leagues welcome anyone willing to learn the sport.
Getting comfortable wearing wheels is important when training and this is achieved through skating as much as possible. Hit the local roller rink for open skate sessions and wear skates around the house. An extra set of wheels or a previously-loved pair of skates can be used outdoors at the local skate park, tennis courts or neighborhood sidewalks when indoor rinks are not available. Take time to work on “skate-itude,” the act of being roller derby girl tough and confident on quad skates.
Making of a Roller Derby Girl: Minimizing Injury
Falling is inevitable during roller derby practice sessions and skaters in training learn proper falling techniques in order to avoid and minimize injury. Roller derby is a contact sport but body checks probably will not happen until after a skills test is passed.
Having the proper equipment is essential in preventing injury. The roller derby league will advise on essentials and these typically include a helmet, knee and elbow pads, wrist guards and a mouth guard. Most teams have equipment for new roller derby girls to use before committing to joining the team. Sin City Skates is an online resource helping new roller derby girls select the best equipment.
While it is important to protect the outer body, roller girls should protect their inner bodies. This is achieved through strength training targeting the lower body and back. Treadmill interval training helps build endurance and proper rest is essential. Smoking and drinking is not part of the mix but should be done in moderation if habits cannot be broken. Roller derby takes dedication and commitment beyond bouts and practices.
Making of a Roller Derby Girl: Having Fun
While roller derby entails skill it also requires a sense of humor ranging from the campy, alter ego alias skater names to the punk-like dress. Derby names are exclusive meaning two roller derby girls cannot have the same name. Check the Two Evils Web site for allocated names.
Fishnet stockings, skull and cross bone knee high socks, schoolgirl skirts and panties with sassy phrases are common attire. A local skate shop may have knee high skater socks but Spencer’s, Hot Topic, Journey’s, Claire’s and Walmart are some of the mainstream shops for socks along with derby-appropriate attire.
Making of a Roller Derby Girl: The Rules
The roller sport is somewhat confusing and takes a few times of seeing a bout to understand the game. The article “The Rules of Roller Derby” is an ideal place to start. Most roller derby teams follow the rules set by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), which is the national governing body over all-girl roller derby leagues across the United States.
Why Roller Derby?
For those old enough to remember, roller derby conjures memories of banked track mayhem on television: games more focused on dramatic personalities and fake fights. Most of modern roller derby is played on a flat track, dominated my women’s teams, and focused on true athleticism. Today’s banked track teams are far more like their sisters on the flat track than their ancestors on television in the 70’s and 80’s. More and more men’s teams are popping up everywhere, and junior leagues are catching on. One of the most appealing things about derby is the all-inclusive attitude. This is not a sport of look-alike clones, as many seem to be, particularly by those who do not easily fit into a mold.
The most popular volunteer job in a roller derby league would have to be the skaters. In many places, it is as easy to become a skater as having enthusiasm, time, gear, and insurance. More popular leagues, mainly in major cities may have a very competitive tryout process.
If someone’s favorite zoo animal is a zebra, then refereeing might be the perfect roller derby job for him or her. Referees are crucial to roller derby leagues, and it takes many refs to run a bout. If a league is a member of WFTDA, there are special requirements for becoming a referee, and training to accompany them.
Many leagues are looking for people with roller derby knowledge to help shape their growing teams. These can be men or women, and are above all else scholars of the game of roller derby. They watch video, plan drills, and create line-ups. Coaches are definitely the brains of the operation, and the best are constantly dreaming up new strategies.
Running a roller derby bout can be a huge undertaking. Most of the leaders of the league are skaters, and they are very busy with their own routines when it comes to game time. Many leagues require volunteers to take care of their track. This means setting it up, tearing it down, and monitoring it for safety during the bout.
Keeping track of statistics is a excellent way to learn the game of roller derby. On a league, the stats crew takes note of everything that happens on the track. They then are able to calculate team rankings and player stats. It is not necessary to be a mathematician to contribute to the stats crew; only an eye for detail.
Especially in the more common d.i.y. venues, it takes many volunteers to plan a great game. The bout planners have to worry about tickets, insurance, security, vendors, and publicity, among others. Leagues are looking for people to volunteer to take tickets, sell t-shirts, and even coordinate with the venue and sell tickets.
Many leagues need volunteers to help out with the audio and visual aspects of their game day performance. Music is set up for between jams. Photographers capture the action on film, and more often than not, a video camera is used to tape the game, but for promotional use and review by coaches and players.
Roller derby’s fun-filled atmosphere is always enhanced by great music and entertainment. If you have a talent or a musical act, then offer it as pre-bout entertainment or a halftime show. Even if a talent is unusual, the inclusive roller derby family would probably not only welcome it, but put it center stage.
Many fans with knowledge of the sport and outgoing personalities make great announcers and commentators. Fun announcers help the crowd understand the events of the game while making it even more entertaining. They get to know the skaters very well, and enjoy their own little notoriety with the fans.
Leagues also need help from some very specific people. It is always necessary to have volunteer medical professionals on site in case of injury. Doctors, nurses, paramedics, and athletic trainers are some of the most important people at a roller derby bout, although if all goes well they will do absolutely nothing.
Accountants, lawyers, public relations experts, bar owners, chefs, travel agents, web designers, and many others have skills that the local roller derby league needs from time to time. These professionals support their local roller derby by volunteering their services, or offering them at a discounted rate. In exchange, they are welcomed into the derby family.