In recruiting new skaters and creating a fan base, we’ve found that there are a few misconceptions that need to be cleared up regarding our beloved sport of roller derby.
Roller derby is like professional wrestling on wheels.
It seems that, whenever someone hears of roller derby, images of women skating around a banked track elbowing each other, tripping each other, knocking girls over the tops of walls, and even punching each other come to mind. Along with this, people also think that the winner of a bout is predetermined. This image of roller derby, which became the popular version of the sport in the 1970’s, is definitely not the same roller derby that is played today.
The Springfield Roller Girls (SRG) play under the rule set developed by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). As the name states, we play on flat tracks. Elbowing and tripping girls will get you sent to the penalty box, and purposefully punching someone will most certainly get you ejected from the bout. While there is hitting involved (bodies, not fists), there are rules and guidelines in place to keep players as safe as possible. And, trust us, the winners are definitely not predetermined. For more information regarding the rules (there are a lot more than you think), check out the WFTDA Rules.
Scoring in roller derby involves passing a ball.
There are no balls used in roller derby. Scoring is done by a skater (called a jammer) who laps and passes opposing blockers. Blockers, of course, try not to let the opposing jammer pass them while also trying to help get their jammer past opposing blockers. There is definitely some knocking of people around (and down) involved, but this has to be done legally (please refer to the rules mentioned above).
Roller derby is not a family friendly sport.
Some of our biggest fans are kids! Several of our skaters either have kids or work with kids for a living. We love kids! There are several leagues around the nation that have junior leagues for girls below the age of 18. SRG does not currently have a junior league, but we would love to develop one in the future. Also, kids six and under always get in free at our home bouts at Skateport!
For anyone interested in playing or volunteering, our practices are currently two nights per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays). During the summer, we typically start at 7:00 p.m. During the winter, we have several practices that start at 8:00 p.m. due to Skateport hosting area schools’ skating parties. You can have time for dinner with the family and be home at a decent hour.
I’m not __________ enough to play roller derby.
Fill in the blank…big, tall, good, mean, fit, popular, young, etc. There is no one type of person that plays roller derby. SRG is comprised of women of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, fitness levels, ages, etc.
Size really doesn’t matter when you play roller derby. No matter what size you are, there’s always a way you can find to use it to your advantage. You don’t have to be a bigger girl to give a hit, and you don’t have to be a smaller girl to be agile on your skates.
We have girls who had never really even skated before trying it out, but you’d probably never know it. Don’t let a lack of knowledge or ability scare you away. We’re not going to throw you into the middle of a scrimmage on your first night. We will teach you and train you. Give it a chance, and we’re sure you’ll find your niche.
SRG is comprised of people who work in education, care of the elderly, law, retail, etc., and there are a lot of different types of personalities. While we are all so different, playing roller derby brings us all together on the same playing field. Roller derby can be a great distraction or a great way to relieve stress. No matter who you are or what you do, chances are you could use one or the other. It’s also an instant sisterhood. You will have people who will be there for you both on and off the track.
As long as you’re at least 18 years old, and you feel that you are physically able to play, then there’s really no age limit, either. Right now, SRG has skaters in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who are actively competing.
Roller derby is too dangerous.
We definitely won’t lie to you. Roller derby is a contact sport on wheels. You will fall, you will get bruises, and you will probably get hurt to some degree at some point. We care about your safety, though. Anyone playing roller derby with SRG must pass the minimum skills test and purchase the WFTDA insurance before you can scrimmage or do any drills that require full contact. We skate hard and hit hard, but your safety always comes first. We always want you to push yourself at practices, but we do not want you to push to the point where you significantly increase the risk of causing injury. Also, during bouts, there are always EMTs present for any injury or emergency.
I can’t play roller derby because I have a medical/physical condition.
This may or may not be true, depending on your condition. If you are physically unable to skate or mentally unable to compete, then playing roller derby probably is not for you. However, we do have ladies who skate that have conditions that others might let limit them in some way. SRG has a diabetic member, and she’s one of the best blockers on our All Stars team. She knows when she needs to limit herself, and she has also made others aware of her condition should something happen where she needs assistance. One of the teams that we skate against has a member who is deaf. The sport is largely about track awareness (knowing what’s going on around you and what you need to be doing as a result). As long as she has a way knowing where she needs to be and what she needs to be doing, then the inability to hear does not affect her ability to skate and compete. As with age, if you feel that you are physically and/or mentally able to skate and compete, then there’s a place for you.
Now that we’ve cleared up some of these misconceptions up for you, we encourage you to give it a try. Even if you decide that skating isn’t for you, we have so many things that need to be done off skates. Our head NSO (non-skating official) can put you to work during our home bouts. On bout days when we have double headers, if we do not have enough NSOs to cover the different positions such as Jam Timer, Score Keeper, Scoreboard Operator, Penalty Box Timer, Penalty Tracker, etc., the skaters who have either just skated or will be skating have to fill those positions. If you want to volunteer, we would love to have you! If you want to skate, but not play, we can also always use refs.
One thing that many skaters take from the sport is the sense of belonging. We train together, play together, look out for each other, and care about each other. Another thing that skaters can take with them, win or lose, is a sense of accomplishment. Learning to focus on what we need to work on, setting goals that make us better, and accomplishing what we set out to do leads to success both on and off the track. If you ask people why they play derby, each person will probably have a different reason.
Besides the game of roller derby itself, we are active in the community with picking up trash along Battlefield Road in front of the Battlefield Mall, skating in local parades, and supporting other local charities/organizations working to help support and empower women. We volunteer or pay to participate or work in different events such as the Sertoma Chili Cookoff, Rockin’ Ribs, and Ozarks Pride Day.
More questions regarding what roller derby is all about? Interested in trying it or seeing what it’s all about? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re interested in or have questions regarding volunteering, being a ref, sponsoring, or being a member of our fan club, please check out the About Us page for contact information.