I’ve been meaning to write this blog for quite some time but I guess the weight of the task at hand was just too daunting. I was overwhelmed with having to convey the magnitude of such an influential figure in the sport of Roller Derby. The day really crept up on me. I’m sure now whatever I say will not do him or my feelings justice, but here I go.
Today is The Commissioner’s birthday! (Jerry Seltzer is the son of Leo Seltzer, the inventor of Roller Derby.) Jerry is not just the son of the sport’s creator. He’s not just some figurehead who shows up at bouts to accept awards and remind people of the past. He is actively involved in the sport’s growth and evolution and cares deeply about the future of the sport we now call ours. He knows about promotions and the game and safety and skaters' rights and management. He is an innovator. Some skaters may discredit him because he is old, or because he never skated, or because they think he is just a mouthpiece for the past, but he has something to say. His opinions aren’t outdated he’s just as relevant as ever.
I started this blog in July 2010. After commenting on one of Jerry’s blogs, he found my blog, and became a reader from the first post. I have to admit, I was a little intimidated. From day one practically I felt I had to write good blogs and be consistent, even if my audience was a party of one: J. Seltz. I really liked Jerry’s blogs and reading them had pushed me to start posting myself. The fact that I knew he was now reading my blogs too was even more motivation.
Growing up I have had certain role models, many have been authors and musicians. And somewhere in my youth I decided that it was important to meet these people, and tell them how important and influential they had been in my life. I was really sad when Kurt Vonnegut died because I had always imagined I would meet him. Now, that seems really silly and naïve, as I realize artists are often annoyed by many people just like me. I know now that I may never meet Bob Dylan, (or maybe I just think it is less important now to meet him), but I do really want to see a concert of him with my Dad. …I would be really sad if for some reason that couldn’t happen.
My point is that Jerry Seltzer is one of those people for me. And I already got to meet him. But not only that, he reads my blog and likes it! That is a big honor. I not only got to meet a role model, the advent of the internet has allowed us to communicate and well, be friends. It’s amazing! I know though that despite the fact that I’ve met Jerry I’m not sure I have ever really expressed in words just how much he means to me.
I like Jerry for more than the fact that his history is tied to the sport I love. He’s feisty and an innovator, like I said. He cares about skaters’ rights and safety and whether or not the audience is having a good time. He has new ideas and when he has old ideas they’re relevant and important. He’s a good writer and he has something to say. So many bloggers are not writers. They are just people who post pictures or recipes or links. He can write. He’s progressive, and he’s funny. I found his blog at a time where I was feeling very discouraged about Roller Derby and his opinions were a breath of fresh air. It meant a lot to me to find someone so revered who held many of the same thoughts and beliefs as I.
Jerry, you said recently in your birthday blog that you will not be satisfied until Roller Derby reaches the position and respect it deserves. I’m here to tell you that I vow to take that oath as well, for as long as I live. I want to elevate the sport to where it is a respected national past time!
Two things about Jerry I always try to remember to respect: never use the number one. …
[Did You Know? The sport of Roller Derby moved from city to city until 1937 when a tragic bus crash killed 18 of the 21 people aboard. The team onboard was on its way to Cincinnati from St. Louis when their bus crashed and burst into flames near Salem, Illinois. The sport’s creator Leo Seltzer wanted to shut the Derby down forever but other skaters convinced him to keep it going. The uniform number 1 never was used in Roller Derby again as a memorial to those killed. Many old school Roller Derby enthusiasts, including Leo’s son Jerry, ask that skaters of today’s modern resurgence still continue to honor this tradition. The choice is yours.]
…And I always capitalize Roller Derby.
Oh ya, and one of my favorite trivia tidbits about Jerry is his niece (is that right Jer?) is Tabitha from Bewitched. Okay, and get this, it’s his NIECES. Yup. Tabitha was played by TWO actresses. Twins Erin and Diane Murphy.