5 things i’ve learned from roller derby

Image via Things that go Bling (http://brazen-design.blogspot.com)

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…

  1. I’ve always thought joining roller derby would be hilarious but I fear I will be an absolute disaster on skates. Love the lessons without the bruising!

    • well, maybe once you get through your regular boot camp, you’ll be in good enough shape to take on skating! thanks for stopping by, bella! 🙂

  2. while I would probably be an awesome roller derby queen, I bruise like a grape! 🙁

  3. hahah- that was awesome!!! All I know about roller derby is really from your blog (I don’t think I really should count movie-stuff as being legit info).

    I am always amazed by community spirit in competitive team sports or other activities. Like mosh pits. Seriously, after attending a few punk shows with Andrew (a punk fan), I was flabbergasted that while pushing, shoving and elbowing, punk rockers were bending down to help those who fell, stopping to check on anyone who looked seriously hurt…. 🙂

    very cool Roseanne, thanks for sharing!

  4. i was thinking of joining a team… but then i remembered that i dont have comprehensive health care. u.s.. yeah.

  5. I’m a big fan of the local derby team! They are incredible. Don’t forgot the power of ruffled panties, a little known, extra powerful variety of panties, especially when worn over spandex and aqua fishnets.

    • ruffled panties: check! already got ’em, and i wear them regularly. but not in combination w/ spandex and fishnets! hmm… 😉

  6. Hi, girlwarrior. Well, you already have the perfect name for a Roller Derby star. Or is that why you chose the name?

    You might recall that when you first started writing about roller derby I told you I used to be a huge fan in junior high school during one of the roller derby heydeys in California. So I know all about roller derby.

    But schockingly, many people I’ve found don’t even know what it is. So, for those sad souls here’s Wikipedia:

    and I found this fun video and lot’s more on YouTube:

    Bob Weisenberg

  7. It seems like there’s a lot of overlap between the roller derby and burlesque worlds…tough chicks? ironic use of sexuality? Bettie Page bangs? Anyway, both are groups of females that I admire, altho I don’t think I have the balls to do what they do…

    Rock (and roll) on!

    • yes, both share a similar aesthetics and politics. in fact, roller derby has been called “burlesque on wheels.” my personal opinion is that they’ve both also grown out of the 3rd wave feminist/riot grrl movements of the 90s.

      good observation, brenda!

  8. That is GREAT! I’ve gotta check to see if there are roller derby tourneys around here! I am a yoga teacher, and NOT a delicate flower like you. In fact, my lessons on the mat are all about not powering through a pose, but letting it unfold from within. Love this post!

  9. Wow. The more I learn about you, the more I realize that you are such a bad ass! Totally inspiring! 🙂

  10. Great observations. I have noted many of the same things in the almost 4 years that I have been following and announcing for derby. I love the Montreal Skaters and can’t wait until I get a chance to come watch them on their home turf.