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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Roller Derby is Different

 I was thinking today, 
at what point are you no longer a roller girl?

What happens…

after hangin’ up the skates?

Are you finished being a derby girl if you’ve been forced to quit due to an injury? Are you done being a roller girl when you quit your league? Are you finito when you move to another city without a league? I know Flica Flame of VooDoo Dolls and Survivor fame still advertises that she is a roller girl, and she only skated half a season with the Nor Cal Roller Girls. I know a cop who was a long time derby veteran but quit to spend more time with her family, and on her facebook page she still describes herself as a roller girl. When do you stop being a roller girl? Are you one forever once you have started?

I’d like to think yes. ‘Roller Girl’ is a state of mind. Kitten Vicious of the Rocktown Rollers of Harrisonburg Virginia recently passed in a tragic car accident and a stranger, but fellow derby girl wrote on her wall “No matter who you are, in this sport you are family. Even if that girl has kicked your ass in gameplay (as Kitten did to me several times!!), it only makes you closer friends. I need to capture the fabric of family that make up the tapestry of derby” (Merry Khaos, AKA Kristie Grey, of the Harrisonburg Fallout Femmes).

Former skater Sgt.  Bashin’ Butter of SHEvil Dead and Undead Bettys affiliations agrees: "once a derby girl always a derby girl. No one will ever understand what we feel, how hard we train and how close the bond is unless you do it. I still have VERY close friends that I have met through derby. These ladies have been through some of the most important parts of my life. I will always consider myself a derby girl...active or not."

Being a roller girl is a mentality. It’s a spirit within us- and it’s obvious to others. That fire in our eyes is what attracts so many non-skaters to want to pull on some fishnets and give it a go- it’s clear we’re bad ass and it’s not just because of the hard hits we deliver on the track, it’s something more. If we were all just interested in playing a team sport we would be on the volleyball court or on a soccer field. It’s not just the adrenaline and speed that comes with a full contact sport or we’d be kick boxing or playing women’s rugby. Roller derby attracts a different kind of woman, and it’s these feisty unique personalities that make each one of us feel at home. It’s that girl who you click with like no other before, it’s the sisterhood you never knew you could have.

While googling “Roller Derby Sisterhood” on a search for images for this blog, I couldn’t believe I happened upon this video. Much better than a single picture, this video describes what I was going for better than any photo could have.

Derby Girls: a Sisterhood from Travis Menke on Vimeo.


A big component of the derby world is how friendly girls are with opposing teams. One reason fellow skaters embrace each other with such friendliness at game after parties is because we have all worked our butts off to resurrect the sport we love so dearly and we recognize in each other the hard work and perseverance it takes to start up a league. We love roller derby, so we love each other. Despite wins and losses we are in this together. Other sport teams do not share the same satisfaction we do of high fiving after a game and saying, “Ya. We did it. We made this happen.”
-Because THIS wasn’t always here. THIS wasn’t given to us, we’re making it all from scratch. Sure we appreciate Leo Seltzer and respect everything that came before us, but let’s be real- it’s the hard working women of today’s flat track that are making this resurgence happen.

And we love each other. We play a real sport and respect the legitimacy of the game, but when it comes down to it, any two derby girls have more in common than not. Competition does not take priority in this sport, creating a sisterhood does, which in turn- creates outstanding athletes able to think as a unit and work as a team. It’s really phenomenal, -unlike any other sport.

So I think once a roller girl, always a roller girl. And I do believe “Roller Girl” is a mentality. Not the mentality that draws inauthentic, non-committed, un-athletic girls to the rink to get cat called and wear booty shorts. But the mentality that draws women seeking something unique and empowering, the thought that there IS something out there for me, and the hope to make connections with similar minded bad asses ready to take on the world. If you have this fire inside you, you might just be a roller girl!

 We all know good ole’ Ann never stopped being a derby girl!

Derby Love to all my sisters!

Auntie Social       

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