Ask Frisky: Can I Play Roller Derby?

Hi, I’m back! The Rose City Rollers skaters take July “off,” so no blog posts from me. “Irony quotes” because Fresh Meat and travel team skaters don’t take the month off from practice. Trust me, I haven’t forgotten what the hangar looks like.

One of the most frequent comments a derby skater gets is “I always wanted to do that,” or, “I’d never be able to do that,” and our most common reply is something along the lines of: “You can totally do it!” In the spirit of our Wannabe Derby Girl, let’s talk about what it takes to become a Rose City Roller. Hi also to my friend’s friend Cindy, who Facebooked me  just today wondering how one might get started in derby.

First off, if you want to play roller derby, you probably can, okay? There are Rosebuds, and there are 60-year-old derby grandmas. There’s a place for you if you weigh 90 pounds or 290 pounds.    No excuses there. I’ve even heard rumors of boys who play sometimes, male readers,  so you’re not excluded.

However, it’s not so easy as strapping on skates and seeing what happens. You will need:

1. Time

Practices are nights and weekends, 3 minimum per week. You’ll have 6 hours of volunteer time a month, plus team and league events. And bouts. You attend some, play in some, and set up and break down for others. And oh, by the way, someone needs to go to this committee meeting on Thursday. In addition to the league forum, you might get about 23 emails in one day about the font your team is using for their uniforms. If only I were  kidding.

2. (some) Money

Startup costs are in the hundreds of dollars, depending on the skates you get. Remember, good pads are cheaper than surgery. You have your monthly dues, and you’ll buy tickets for bouts. Travel costs. Uniforms. New wheels every once in a while. You don’t have to be rich, but it does add up.

(As a corollary, an answer to another common question: No, we do not get paid for this.)

3. Will

It won’t be easy, and you have to really want it to stick it out. You won’t be good at everything right away. You won’t like everyone. You’ll have bad nights and practices after bad days. You’ll have traumatic jams. You will have pain, hurt feelings, and very likely injuries. If your livelihood cannot survive a broken leg, think twice. If you can’t get along with 150 strong-willed women, steer clear.  They say there’s no crying in roller derby, but I’ve seen a lot of evidence to the contrary.

Also, if you’re a gigantic jerk, please join another league! (Sorry, other leagues.)

So, time, (some) money, and will.  Notice I didn’t say anything about years of skating experience or the ability to run a 7-minute mile. You’re so on board. Now what should you do?

You will love it.

Remember, I’m here to answer your burning questions. Ask away!

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