I was 15 years old when I saw my first roller derby game. My older sister Jaki (or “Slamus Aran” as she is known in derby) had recently joined our local team, the Derby City Roller Girls. In past years, roller derby was somewhat of a spectacle sport. Although players required a great deal of skill, dedication, and athleticism, it was also sprinkled with scripted fights, wins, and losses; however, the recent re-emergence of roller derby is all sport, hard work, and a positive attitude. I was never able to connect with many sports, until this one.
What recently drew me to becoming a member of the team was the extended family and support the team provides to one other. Going to practice now feels like a second home, one filled with other strong women who are there to help you grow, as well as grow as a team. It took me ten years to muster enough courage to attempt to joining. Roller derby is helping me grow not only as a skater, but also as a strong, confident woman. It’s also teaching me how to take a fall and quickly get back up, as roller derby is a full contact sport with hard hits and harder landings.
When you first decide you want to play roller derby, you must often go through what is called “Derby Boot Camp.” As a matter of fact, DCRG has a new training camp coming up starting October 8, 2017 at Champs Rollerdrome. With no prior knowledge or experience required, you are not only taught beyond the fundamentals of skating, such as learning more difficult moves and acquiring skills to pass the assessment, but you also learn how the game itself is played.
The game is composed of several players, rules, and strategies. There are five members from each team on the track at one time. Three blockers, one pivot, and one jammer from each team head to the track for a “jam.” Each jam lasts a maximum of two minutes. The group of blockers from each team is called the “pack,” and this is where most of the action takes place. The pack lines up with the jammers, identified by a star on their helmet, behind them. The jammer’s goal is to get through the pack first, and then as many times as possible after that, scoring points for each opposing blocker they legally pass. The jammer who has successfully made it through the pack on their first lap is what’s known as the “lead jammer.” The lead jammer has the ability to call off the jam, a decision that is oftentimes a very strategic play in order to stop the other team from scoring any points.
DCRG was lucky enough to have a visitor at our practice on Thursday, September 14. Quadzilla, a well-known member of the derby community and owner of Grn Mnstr, has made a slew of videos online sharing various strategies, techniques, and skills, while still taking the time to visit teams across the country as a derby instructor. Still a roller derby newbie, I was awestruck as he had some of the DCRG team pile up on the floor while he skated around the track and soared over them not once, but twice. Quadzilla is not only a great instructor; he is also a very personable and interactive mentor. His best advice? “If you fall down, that means you’re learning something new.”
I hope DCRG has the pleasure of his company again when I am actually skating… not only taking photos! Check out a few I took below: