With a little local rummaging, roller derby leagues can be found almost everywhere. Teams of girls that are cooler and more hardcore than you could ever imagine are busy jamming, skating and smashing their way to victory in your community. And they want YOU to get involved.
So let’s go over the basics.
Roller derby is a full on contact sport, played by two opposing teams of five. Both teams skate simultaneously around a circular track. Unlike more conventional sports, there is no ball involved in play, points are scored when a ‘jammer’ manages to complete a lap of the track without falling prey to the opposing teams ‘blockers.’ Given the fact that there are always two jammers on the track at any one time, a team must play both offense and defence during a match. As well trying to make it easier for their own jammer to score, a team must concentrate on making it as hard as possible for the opposing jammer to pass them. Sound tough? You bet.
There are various ways in which a blocker can counter or eliminate an opposing team member. Due to the potentially dangerous nature of a sport in which players physically collide, blocking rules are stringent and rigidly adhered to. ‘Booty blocks,’ ‘hipchecks’ and ‘J-blocks’ are just some of the legal ways in which a blocker can, quite literally, take out another player. Roller derby is a complicated and elegant strategic sport. Renowned for being one of the very few that is truly inclusive, it nevertheless takes many years for a player to develop her signature moves and skills. But when she does? She’s a sight to behold.
There is really no way to adequately describe the thrill of a bout. Games are fast, furious and butt-clenchingly tense at times. This ain’t no smash and run. Sure, the blocks are dramatic. Yes, it's fun to see a player taken out. But after a few introductory bouts, after you’ve started to really grab a hold of the rules, it is the remarkable skill of this sport that will really begin to resonate. And there is absolutely no reason why you can’t be involved. Roller derby leagues and teams are far more numerous than most people realise. Previous experience is not required for beginners, and every type of person is welcome to learn, practice, and maybe even try out for a team one day. Provided that they’re female, of course.
Male roller derby fans are very, very much encouraged. There’s nothing teams like to see more than a stand full of guys, who are cool enough to know that roller derby is where it’s at. But as a sport, it is female orientated. Guys, it's probably hard to know you’ll never get to be as tough as a derby gal. But don’t despair. Give your wives, your girlfriends, and your sisters the confidence to turn up at a practice session. Then sit and back and watch as they become the most exciting athlete you know.
Check back tomorrow for an exclusive interview with the fast and fierce Leeds Roller Dolls, who will explain why roller derby should be your new favourite sport.