So y’all might remember that last summer I decided to take my love for roller derby to the next level. I signed up for boot camp, strapped on some skates… and dropped out after learning that I have no talent at all for rollerskating, and I am in fact a non-athletic delicate flower who should just stick with standing on my hands in yoga. But I continue to be obsessed with the all-female sport on wheels and still regularly attend MTLRD (Montreal Roller Derby League) bouts in my neighbourhood.
I’ve noticed, though, that my relationship with the game has changed. I used to watch it and want to be on the track, to be the jammer scoring the points or the blocker knocking out opposing team members. Now, I’m happy to be watching from the bleachers with a PBR in my hand, and I’m more aware of how the amazing, dedicated, hard-working women on the track can inspire me in my everyday life. Here are the 5 most important things I’ve learned from being a roller derby fan:
1. Obstacles… simply hip check ’em outta the way Or even better, try to find another way around them. In roller derby, the primary objective is for the lead jammer (the point-scoring player) to make her way through “the pack” (8 players from both teams). She and her teammates will let nothing stand in the way. Hip checking is allowed and necessary, while elbowing isn’t. And the jammer uses speed and strategy to get around the opposite team players. Watching this makes the perceived obstacles in my own life feel so much easier!
2. Community over competition In the final bout of the recent Beast of the East tournament, the two teams vying for top place, Les Filles du Roi and La Racaille (both of MTLRD) had a quick dance party to “99 Red Balloons” on the track, before tearing into each other. It’s not unusual to see two jammers amicably chatting before they sprint off, and when somebody goes down with a serious injury, the bout stops and everyone gets down on one knee until the injured player is off the track. And no matter how heated things may get on the track, there is always an after party.
3. The importance of team spirit The jammer may be the star player who gets all the attention, but she can’t make it around the track without the support from her fellow players, who block the opposing jammer and assist her movement through the pack. Sports have teams, yoga has the kula, and in the rest of life we have our friends, family and allies who help us get through the rough patches.
4. Strong powerful women are hot Okay, I knew this already. But I have to say that part of the appeal of roller derby is the sexiness factor. And not the definition of sexiness that we’re fed by mainstream culture, but a sexiness that celebrates strength and fit bodies of all sizes, and redefines femininity. Roller derby, for me, is also all about ass. That skating leads to some serious glutes, which are highlighted by shorts and cute skirts. It might just what Venus Williams was going for in her French Open outfit ~ except that on roller girls, it works.
5. Animal print, gold lamé, fishnets, and panties over spandex = awesome These are the basic elements of many derby team uniforms, and they look just as hot off the track. I confess to already having a fair amount of animal print, lamé and fishnets in my wardrobe ~ now I’m going to see if I can rock panties over tights in public…