Monday, December 19, 2011
This week our roller derby columnist provides a rebuttal to a commentary taking the sport to task.
About a week ago my Facebook newsfeed was inundated with angry reactions to some fellow’s column claiming that roller derby isn’t a sport. My derby community was outraged and I was grizzled. Adrian Taylor of the The Rockhampton Morning Bulletin is apparently a humor columnist, although he uses the British spelling “humour.” Unfortunately, Mr. Taylor isn’t funny. I’m sure he gets his jollies by inciting sharp reactions from readers, but his criticism of roller derby was both unfounded and vacant. His contrite and pompous column boiled down to this: “I hate sports that don’t involve balls.” (Whoa… so many insinuations there, I’ll let you, the reader, figure them all out.) Just kidding (or am I?). The problem with Mr. Taylor’s diatribe is …
Monday, August 1, 2011
Retirement looms over all athletes — even roller derby girls.
Michael Jordan. He is the king of basketball, no-roll collar t-shirts and cotton underpants. We all remember Michael Jordan for being at the top of his game – being the most recognizable basketball player possibly ever. Whenever a person excels at something, people say they are the Michael Jordan of XYZ. Do you also remember how he retired, and then returned to basketball? I always wondered why he would come back. Did he miss the attention? The roar of the crowd? Was it money? Or did he truly miss playing the game? As in any sport I know of, when a roller derby player decides to stop playing derby, they are considered “retired.” Sometimes it’s because they are too over-the-hill to keep up with all those young whipper-snappers burning …
Monday, June 20, 2011
Roller derby newbies show more anxiety than fear in their first scrimmages.
She stood there in a crouched position and looking at me. Her right hand raised to her eyes where her pointer and middle finger stretched toward her pupils, then pointed at mine. The corner of her mouth turned up to reveal an intimidating sneer. I happily smiled and waved at her, showing no fear. To be truthful, I wasn’t afraid. I was nervous. My anxiety was eating my guts, and I was getting fidgety. I had fallen at practice, time and time again. But not like this. For many Roller Derby leagues, new recruits come in with little to no skating experience. So, when I decided to try out as a Roller Derby skater, I had to be taught even the most basic skating skills. While learning those skills, I ate painted wood floor. I mean, ATE it. …
Monday, June 6, 2011
The balance between sport and entertainment in roller derby is tricky.
Imagine yourself as a derby player, propelling your body through a gauntlet of human obstacles, several of whom actively swing in your path. You break the pack and feel like you’ve just conquered the final level of American Gladiators. Without any mood lighting or roaring applause, this feat seems less amazing. Roller derby players feed off the energy of the crowd, and besides loving to play the game, being a “part of the show” is an overwhelming reason why many get involved in derby. Since its inception, Roller Derby has transformed itself many times to appeal to fans. Roller girls are constantly approached by folks whose last memory of Roller Derby involved the choreographed bouts of the '70s, where fights between players were planned, …
Monday, May 23, 2011
Roller Derby skaters lead a double life that can put a strain on personal relationships.
Edward Norton and Brad Pitt in Fight Club. Jekyl and Hyde. The guy in Psycho and his mom. Leading a dual life is party of derby life. You know, minus the delusional and homicidal tendencies. Ever read an article about Roller Derby or a specific derby player? Many start out exactly the same: Meet so-and-so, she works at a boring job during the day, but at night unleashes her wild child derby persona! And for the most part, that seems to be true. All of us, besides the unemployed, have day jobs. Admittedly, not all of them are boring. We wake up early, go to work and beat the steering wheel while trapped in evening rush hour traffic. While most people are preparing dinner for the their families or cozying up on the couch for a night of …
Sunday, May 15, 2011
The Arch Rival Roller Girls faced two out-of-town teams May 14, and Patch was there to catch the action.
The Arch Rival Roller Girls faced out-of-town competition Saturday night. The Saint Lunachix faced the Springfield Roller Girls, while the ARRG All-Stars skated against the Ohio Roller Girls. Patch was there to catch the action. Check out these photos from both bouts.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Forget about the NFL or NBA drafts—Carrie Carpenter talks about how the Arch Rivals draft their own athletes.
When I say “draft,” I’m not talking about your favorite brand of pale ale, ice cold and begging to be consumed. I’m talking about the invitation given to athletes who are deemed "la crème de la crème." Yes, roller derby teams hold drafts. Scoff if you want, but it's an integral part of the sport. With injuries, retirements, transfers and expansions occurring at rapid rates, this sport survives by drafting the most promising skaters a league can wrap its grimy paws around. Being drafted is a pinnacle moment for any derby player. It means the chance to play for the big crowd and to don a shiny uniform and skate under the bright lights to thundering fans who love to both cheer and heckle you. It is the chance for derby superstardom and the …
Monday, April 25, 2011
Roller derby skater Carrie Carpenter, aka "Shimmy Hoffa," explains how the roller derby world is changing.
As roller derby has gained popularity, an influx of skaters has come knock-knock-knockin on heaven’s door, pleading for entry into the world of derby. Derby has answered, "Come to us, but know how to skate." Long gone are the days of showing up on day one with no skating skills. Sure, we’re still willing to teach girls skating skills and derby strategy, but more and more derby leagues across the country are expecting hopefuls to have the basics down before they step foot on the rink. What does that mean for the aspiring roller girl? They must start training long before they try out for a competitive league. Derby is attracting skaters with significant skating experience: former speed skaters, hockey players and jam skaters. These girls (…
Monday, April 11, 2011
This week roller derby columnist Carrie Carpenter discusses how derby girls select their names.
Derby names are a part of the roller derby culture, and for many, a rite of passage. For instance, in the league I play for, the Arch Rival Roller Girls, a skater must be a member for three months before she may submit her derby name. There are a couple reasons for a three month requirement: First, getting your derby name is a highly coveted moment in the life of a derby girl. It means you’re really a part of it all, you’ve arrived. And no one calls you “Fresh Meat” or “Daisy” anymore. Second, derby names are regulated. Most roller derby leagues and players abide by a code wherein no one may adopt a name that is too similar to one that has already been chosen by another. And with the number of roller derby players and volunteers growing by…
Monday, March 14, 2011
Roller derby skaters divide their time between the flat track and all the administrative tasks a small business has.
Roller derby ain’t your Sunday afternoon softball beer league. Maintaining and growing a league takes blood, sweat and tears. Hundreds of leagues all over the country, including the Arch Rivals, are do-it-yourself leagues. We’re skater owned and operated. That means the skaters and some incredible volunteers donate their time, money and sanity to make our league function. To outsiders, female roller derby might look like some eccentric sorority. People may think we compete for the most extreme makeup and only shop at Hot Topic. And they’d be kind of right. Where else can you go to get an entire outfit adorned in Hello Kitty memorabilia? But as much fun as we have exploiting our alter egos, we’re also running a business. Skaters are …