And anyone who tells you different either has had shitty luck finding a great team, or just doesn’t “get it.” I, on the other hand, both “get it” and was lucky enough to stumble onto my league. My derby history is brief, so I’ll tell you a little about how I got sucked into this world of roller skates, fishnets, and built-in family.
Almost exactly 7 months ago I was invited out as a part of a weekend extravaganza for a friend’s 30th birthday. A roller derby game was part of the weekend’s festivities. I had never been before. I didn’t even know that my city had a team. (You probably don’t know your city has a team either but they probably do, maybe even more than one!) The extent of my derby knowledge came from the movie Whip It. Seriously, that’s all I knew; and it wasn’t even accurate knowledge. I watched one half of the game and I was hooked sold IN LOVE! It was fast, it was competitive, all the ladies seemed to be having a BLAST. Their next two bouts I volunteered and then ended up sitting next to a player during a bout and she took the time to explain parts of the game and to tell me more about becoming a non-skating official. I jumped right into the league. Getting involved where I could and getting to know people and starting to make relationships. I spent a lot of time debating on whether or not I wanted to skate. I finally decided, “Life’s too short, and if I don’t try, I’ll regret it.” I just didn’t want to be the person sitting on the sidelines anymore.
Where I would say that I’m fortunate is that I took the time to get involved with the league and get to know some of the players before I decided to skate. While that’s very true, it’s hardly reason why I feel derby is so much like a family. There’s a lot of different kinds of people with a lot of different kinds of lifestyles on my team. There are people who are inseparable and people who don’t always get along. Single, married, engaged, involved, gay, straight, with kids, without kids; there are all different types of careers, religious beliefs, political view points. Just like any family. But what I’ve marveled at is that these women can put their differences aside to be there for each other; and come game day these things just aren’t relevant. You see each other 3-5 times a week for a combined total of 5-45 hours (depending on if you have bouts, events, travel). You eat, sleep, and sweat with each other.
You want to know other ways that Derby is like a family? At 4 am when I posted on FB how angry and upset I was about something, I got a text making sure I was okay. When I am feeling discouraged and frustrated with myself over my serious lack of skating skills, I have someone there to pick me up and encourage me. When I have a great night on my skates, there’s someone there to tell me they were proud of me. When my car might need a mechanic, someone steps up with advice, referrals, and an offer to help fix it. When you need a DD, someone’s willing (or their sig fig).
There are few limits as to what these women are willing to do or be for one another. People search their whole lives for this type of community. I’m so blessed and it’s very humbling that despite grief in one aspect of my life I have such joy in another!