we love derby because…

In their own words:

Demon Daizy: I love derby because…. I was never any good at sport at school and would never have thought I’d be part of any sports team, and yet here I am in a team which is full of strong, talented, interesting, inspiring, lovely people. It makes me really proud.

Kevin: As a man I am almost expected to like football, but I just don’t get it! Roller Derby is fast, furious and fun. On track opposing teams will play hard and play fast until the other team are destroyed, they will then give each other a high five and head off for ‘apres skate’ as new friends, what other sport does that happen? I love the fact I am the only male in this intake of the fresh meat, it makes me feel as though I need to prove myself more in this female dominated sport.

String Her Belle:  I love roller derby because I was that ‘annoying’ girl at school who was good at all the sports. Thing is, I loved the sports, but I wasn’t loved…believe it or not, it’s not very nice to be the one who always has to ‘pick’ teams. I avoided team sports for years afterwards. I found beer, wine and fags (I was a fifty a day smoker for 16 years). Finding Derby has been one of the most uplifting things that’s happened to me. I have met the most wonderful people, who take me for ‘me’. I love the warmth, intelligence (derby folk are all so god-damn brainy, I’m excluding myself from that), humour and giggles, support and hugs.I love derby as a sport first and foremost. I just consider myself lucky that derby has almost become bigger than the sum of its parts. But most of all…I’m never happier than when I’ve got a pair of skates on my feet!

Lauren: I love derby because I feel like I am surrounded by like-minded individuals who “get me” and I don’t get made to feel like an outcast!

Rachel: I love derby because not only is it the most fun thing I’ve ever done, it’s also not just a sport, it’s a whole way of life. I get to train hard and play hard with a load of amazing people who share the same outlook, who aren’t afraid to hit hard and expect you to do the same. Where else can you knock someone flat on their back one moment, and have them congratulate you the next?! It’s fantastic.

Cee Lo Mean: I love derby because before I started I despised my body. Now I’m happy if my thighs get bigger, it’s a badge of honour for all the hours I put into the sport. My calves are muscular and would probably look crap in a pair of skinny jeans, but I love them because they serve me well in skating. I’m glad my hips are broad to knock girls out of the way. Instead of thigh gaps and supermodel types I’ll look at derby girls of all shapes and sizes as my role models. I’ve given up caring what other people think of my figure. Derby has made me comfortable in my own skin for the first time in my life.

Sue: I love derby because… As someone who has always half fitted in but not quite 100% fitted in anywhere (it has its pros and cons) I tend to prefer to do stuff on my own. Swimming and walking gives me thinking time, and I like to think I’m an independent person, having had to rely on myself since I was quite young. It would be easy for me to carry on like that, but I’m glad someone on Facebook randomly saw a post of mine and suggested roller derby. I’m glad I’d had a vodka and was just merry enough to think “what the heck” and send my name in. I’m glad I’m challenging myself and I’m glad I overcame those first day nerves to turn up to that first session….Oh and this LRB t shirt is fecking wicked. I get to wear striped socks and a cool helmet too! People who knew me before roller derby are proud of me too. It’s insane and I’m loving the whole thing.

Jen: I love roller derby because I have never been good at sports, i have always felt too embarrassed to really have a go in case I am not good enough. I have always found it hard to communicate with other people while doing a sport, because I have never felt confident enough to just say what I think might help or what I think is a good idea. With roller derby I seem to have found something that is fast, fun and involves team work and i actually think its made me more confident already. Also, I love having an excuse to put on a pair of short shorts at 10am on a Saturday morning.

Nauti-Kill: I love roller derby because… I used to love being on a team, but since school I was too scared to join anything. I am now part of the biggest and fastest growing sport in the UK! I’ve met some amazing people and have actually travelled to places Inever would have without RD. It gives me a reason to get up, do something fun and athletic and not slob around and be my usual lazy self. Also, I’m less shy about my body. I don’t hide away like I used to, my confidence is so much greater 🙂

Raven (aka Marissa from Into the Nitemare Roller Derby Store): I can’t pin it to one thing, it’s the wind whistling through my helmet, knowing it’s my body making it whistle. It’s the way that the guys I skate with enjoy getting beasted at endurance and smiling the whole way through it. It’s when my butt twinges every time I move and I remember taking that hit and boucing off the floor back to my feet and breaking through the wall. It’s seeing Freshies progress from not being able to stand to smashing 25 in 5. But mainly it’s the support and unconditional friendship I have with my league. WE ARE BCR!!

Bonnie D. Stroir: I love roller derby because it fills a gaping hole in society with fierce, fun athletics and massive radness.

(I know. Bonnie D. Stroir gave me a quote. And that says a lot about the reason I love derby.)


derby love

I’m not going to start at the beginning.

There’s going to come a point when this love affair ends, because I know it’s impossible to sustain this level of passion. Right now my fellow hatchlings and I are at the heady can’t-eat-can’t-sleep infatuation phase of our relationship with roller derby. It can do no wrong. From the moment my secondhand skates arrived, packed up with a little note signed “derby love” I was hooked. I woke up in the middle of the night at the weekend, rolled over, grabbed my phone and looked up “how to do backwards crossovers” on YouTube. My partner didn’t even stir. Nor does he bat an eyelid when I hurtle out the door at 8am on a Saturday for the 60 mile round trip I drive to the draughty village hall, where I happily submit to 120 minutes of derby-based torture.

derby girls

Every second sentence I say contains the words skate, wheels, or minimums. I spend hours every week thinking about our training sessions. We come home to ignored pets, bemused children, and neglected partners, then conduct the modern version of the post-game team hot tub – debriefing via Facebook on our phones in the bath.

It’s not that I want it to end: I wish I’d found derby when I was ten years younger. My thirty year old self could have done with an infusion of the guts and humour and bravery that characterises every team member I’ve met. But knowing there’s a time limit, that the intense emotional and physical demands that the sport requires can’t be sustained indefinitely, gives me an extra edge. I might be twice the age of some of the girls on our team but I’m going to bloody well skate hard and turn left and catch them if it kills me. And chasing the amazing derby butts is incentive in itself: nobody’s invented booty shorts emblazoned with “You want a bum like this? Skate harder” but it’s only a matter of time.

So for now I’m going to treasure every stiff-legged morning, every extra second I add to my (frankly hopeless) planking record, every bruise and crashing fall and moment of hysterical laughter with my team mates. I’ve never been a team player. I hated PE at school. But this passionate affair with roller derby is the stuff 80 year old reminiscences are made of.

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