The first time I heard about roller derby was when I was eleven years old. I was reading the Edmonton Journal over my mom’s shoulder when an article about the new Greater Edmonton Junior Roller Derby Association caught my eye.
“You will never, ever, ever play roller derby,” she told me.
I heard that derby was a full contact sport where girls skated around in circles and tried to knock each other over until there was only one girl left standing. This isn’t true. To play flat- track roller derby, five girls from each team line up on a circular track: four blockers and one jammer. All are wearing a helmet, elbow pads, wrist guards, and knee pads in addition to their quad skates. The jammer lines up behind the blockers. The referee’s whistle sounds and each jammer tries to get through the opposing team’s blockers. The blockers block- obviously! For simplicity, let’s just say that scoring points is basically a jammer getting through the opposing team’s pack. Obviously, the team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
There are many more rules and regulations to the game that you can find online: http://wftda.com/rules.
Yes, like many other sports, there is hitting and contact involved in roller derby. However, before you learn to hit, you learn to skate. And before you learn to skate, you learn to fall. I have never felt unsafe on the track. I understand that every time the whistle blows I could get hurt, just like in soccer or football. That has never stopped me. I love roller derby too much. Of course I have been scared or nervous. But I’ve learned that in order to be fearless you must first be brave- that is, doing something even though you are scared, not having no fear.
Joining GEJRDA when I was thirteen was a great decision. I have done several sports: fencing, diving, track, basketball, badminton, etc. I’ve played soccer for twelve years and counting. However, in the past three years I’ve learned to love roller derby more than any other sport I have tried. Part of this is having amazing couches and volunteers in our non- profit league. Another part is having the most incredible and inspirational teammates at my side. Roller derby is a small sport in Alberta, but we have some big spirit on our team! We are all very close and support each other on and off the track. I’ve made some amazing friends.
Since my mom told me that I will “never, ever, ever play roller derby,” she has been wrong about a lot of other things (I’m always right!). It is annoying when she swears that it will be cold out and makes me bring a jacket to school and it is the one day when I’m boiling to death. Or when she tells me I shouldn’t go outside to longboard because it will rain, and then it is sunny all day. I wish she was right about the weather more often. But, man, am I glad that she was wrong about me not playing roller derby.
The main thing I want people to take from this blog post is that I̶ ̶a̶m̶ ̶r̶i̶g̶h̶t̶ ̶1̶0̶0̶%̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶t̶i̶m̶e̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶m̶o̶m̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶a̶l̶w̶a̶y̶s̶ ̶w̶r̶o̶n̶g̶. derby is an amazing sport. You will meet amazing people at games and practices. You’ll be pushed really hard. If you are considering playing with our league, it is worth a try. It might be the best decision you’ve ever made! 🙂