It is hard.
Roller Derby is really hard physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You are playing mother-fucking football on skates, people! You know how they talk about Fred Astaire and say "Yes, but Ginger Rogers did it all backwards and in heels"? It is like that. You are can bring nothing less then everything you’ve got to the rink, or you will be destroyed and most likely wounded.
So, Derby is all that, but for me there is also something more. Derby is by far the hardest thing mentally I have ever done. It does not come naturally to me - at all. I have to fight for every tiny bit of progress. Fight, I tell you. This is a little strange for me because most things come very easily to me. I am pretty smart and great at faking it, so I have never really worked all that hard for anything. I am the girl who got good grades by doing her homework on the bus, broke 700 English without studying for the SATs, and generally got all the jobs I applied for. I can even convincingly follow dance choreography on the first try, making it look like I’ve been practicing for weeks. My husband hates that it takes me only five minutes to prepare for a ten-minute comedy bit while he sweats bullets for hours to do the same. Hard work has never been a requirement. Until now.
Derby kicks my ass every time, still.
Because I am used to mastering new things in a short time, Derby regularly embarrasses the hell out of me. Plodding along while others flit by is tough and makes me feel so inhibited, I hold back even more. My lack of confidence is my biggest obstacle in Derby and I know in my head that once I get over that, I will make great strides. However, my head has not notified my feet of this dynamic.
But, against my better judgment I am continuing to make a fool of myself in derby and plan on staying with it until asked to leave or until I break something very important. [Editor’s note: Or until you retire a Derby All-Star!]
I was recently interviewed by Grace magazine about derby and I will include my responses here to give some additional insight on my decisions to spend a portion of my life squatting.
What attracted you to roller derby?
Derby had me at fishnets and booty shorts. What can I say? It is sexy, bold, and kick-ass, just like me.
Derby is a fringe sport, for those who like to change the way people think about things. It is full of women who follow their own voice and dare to be strong and assertive in a world that doesn't always honor that in women. I like the gender bending, misfit quality of a sport that empowers the weaker sex (please note the dripping sarcasm in the use of that term).
These are women who live derby. They take the penguin plunge, do the warrior dash, and embrace all things powerful and cheeky. How does anyone not want to be a derby girl?
How did you find out about it?
I learned about derby just like every other smart girl growing up in the 70s and 80s - Jim Croche’s Roller Derby Queen.
I found out about the Shoreline league because my friend, Nduce N Agony (Duce) had joined and ultimately made it through sheer persistence and determination. She was (and continues to be) an inspiration because when she started she could barely stand on skates, and now she is a total powerhouse. There is hope for us all.
What are the most challenging aspects of roller derby? Most rewarding?
It is maybe the most challenging thing I have ever done. It is hard -- really hard, and physically demanding. It hurts. You fall, you get bruises, your chiropractor hates/loves you, and for me, the hardest part is in finding the courage to leave it all out there on the rink. This is really not a group of women you want to disappoint - so I am tentative about taking risks. It is a mental challenge as well as a physical one.
The most rewarding thing is being part of something bigger than yourself. It is being a living example that strength, power, skill, and courage all look great on a woman.
What do you wish more people understood about the sport?
I wish people understood the sport itself so they could get more from watching it - it is an incredible spectacle.
Describe your proudest moment so far.
Last night I did a mother-fucking turn-around toe stop for the first time - in the lobby of a hotel! ;-)
Does your involvement with this sport influence or affect other areas of your life? How?
Hells yeah - it influences everything. Staying with something when it is hard and when you suck at it does more for you than any formal education. There is no such thing as phoning it in. You have to show up, you have to sweat, you have to fall, and you have to work your hardest. I really want to do that in all areas of my life.
In derby, when you fall you must get up within three seconds. I want to be able to do that for every life obstacle I encounter.
Any advice for someone who’s thinking about checking it out?
Fishnets and booty shorts. You know you want to.
Can you share a few details about your life, like what you do during normal business hours, etc?
I am a writer with 7 kids, a dog, and a high-maintenance husband [Editor’s note: What?] who is also my editor and training to be a Derby ref. In my spare time I like drinking and dancing and karaoke and being awesome.
Now kids, I just need to choose a name. Any suggestions?
- Auntie Climax
- Alpha Kitty
- Penis Mom
- JingleBoobs McHitsalot
- Mt. Crushmore
- Wallace and Vomit
- Tanya Hide
- Destroy McClure
- Moxie Crush
- MILF Crusher
- Angelina Slaughterina
- Crush Hour
- Sexypig Bangerelli
- Wizard of Owz
- Like Slaughter for Chocolate
- Curious Gouge
- Titty McFlashalot
- Cruella DeDrill
- She-teed Fa-Quad
- Tenacious DDs
I don't know people - you tell me. Leave your suggestions in the comment box below.