Have you ever felt intimidated and welcome at the same time? Been around a group of people who are so badass but also ridiculously kind and supportive? Were they on skates?
If the answer to all three of those questions is yes, then you probably already know a lot about the amazing sport that is Roller Derby! If the answer to any of those is no, what are you doing with your life? JOKING!
This year I started the Fresh Meat programme with Surrey Roller Girls. From day one I was hooked. I had a spell of bad luck which meant that I almost had to drop out within the first few weeks of the learn-to-skate prerequisite sessions due to a concussion and a very badly injured foot (both courtesy of sparring at Taekwondo, both separate incidents). I’m so glad that I was given the opportunity to continue, thank you Rachael!
Roller Derby is a sport for everyone, no matter your gender, race, sexuality, body shape/size or anything else. There’s no other sport quite like it.
In Roller Derby, having a team of diverse players not only means you have a lot more fun off skates, but it makes you a better team on them. Different body shapes and sizes are advantages, because different people can be put in to different positions and often naturally fall in to them. Saying that, there are some incredible skaters who are double threats [can block or jam] who you really do not want to cross.
The way Roller Derby works is as follows:
You have two teams on the track, each team has 4 blockers and a jammer. The jammer has to get through the blockers, referred to as the pack, and skate around the track and back through the pack to earn points for their team.
There are about a thousand other rules and conditions for earning those points, but I won’t go in to that here. If you’re interested, you can visit this page.
The players on track will hit each other, hard. They will hit each other to try to get other players to leave the track or to slow them down/move them out of the way to let their jammer through. Derby players are HARDCORE. There are specific safe target zones and parts that you are allowed to hit with to ensure that people don’t die, basically.
To run a game, the players aren’t the only people needed. Literally anyone can get involved in Roller Derby because there are so many officials needed for a bout. NSO’s are non-skating officials and help run the game in set positions (you can read about the positions here although I’m sure I’ll post about it some time in the future!), so you don’t even have to skate to be a part of the derby community! Refs are also needed, and a lot of them. There are up to 7 referees to a game. You need a lot of refs with Roller Derby because there is SO. MUCH. ACTION. An unbelievable amount of action, and it would be impossible for one or two refs to be able to see it all.
I’m still a n00b, and I am loving it. There is so much to learn, so many skills that I hope to one day have and I am enjoying every step of the journey.
Thank you to all of the Surrey Roller Girls for making me feel so welcome and empowered and thank you to my fellow Fresh Meat for being just as excited, nervous and nerdy as I am! I feel like I have friends for life already and it’s only been a few months.
If you’re interested in becoming a Badass on Wheels™* then keep an eye out for your local Fresh Meat sessions.
*not actually trademarked