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Roller Derby? But Why?

Thursday, May 09, 2013
I couldn't tell  you exactly when I became aware of roller derby. Sure, I'd heard of those old sport in the 1970's. I had a coworker at my last job who was a member of the team, but she didn't push it on people and I think it was a while before I heard about it. We saw Whip It on video and thought it was cute, but although it's possible that movie was the proximate cause it surely wasn't the ultimate one. The fact is that I was looking for something new to do with my time. I had also drifted away from watching basketball, and was intrigued at the idea of getting Dr. Brazen Hussy to go to a sporting event with me. I figured - hey, it's a women's sport - totally different from the others. There aren't any balls (in either sense)! And it's small, local stuff, rather than some big expensive corporate-owned activity played by juvenile seven-foot-tall millionaires.

So we started going to derby events at the local team. It was tremendous fun, and I immediately became a fan of the sport. It wasn't quite like anything I'd ever seen before. Constant motion, athletes expected to play offense and defense at the same time, and yes, I'll admit it, tough sweaty girls beating the crap out of each other. Plus there was booze. What wasn't to like?

Like I suspect a lot of male derby fans, I teased my not very athletic wife about getting involved with derby. I don't think I made too big a deal of it at first. When we moved to our new town, we immediately went looking for another derby team. It took a while to learn that there were two. The first team was clearly newer and less experienced than our old home team. Then while working out at the gym we noticed a bunch of very capable-looking derby girls practicing at the skating rink - people we didn't recognize! We began attending their home games (most of them, I think) and quickly became screaming gin-soaked fans sitting in suicide seating. I loved every minute of it, not least of it because BH was just as into it as I was. And I started pushing her a little harder to get involved, not just because I thought it would be neat but because I was sure she would enjoy it.

It was near the tail end of that season - maybe the last game- that BH finally emailed the team asking how to get involved. Not as a skater, but as a referee. I was thrilled of course. I was looking forward to several years of watching my wife send skaters to the penalty box while I continued to sit on the sidelines and cheer. It was going to be her thing, and I would have mine - writing, politics, whatever. Plus I'd go work out while she was at practice, because very conveniently they happened in the same place.

A perfectly reasonable plan that wound up being perfectly wrong. Next time: How Roller Derby Ate My Life.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 4:10 PM
  • Can't wait to hear it! I've never been a skater, or interested in skating of any kind. This is one more thing in which I have absolutely zero involvement that still holds genuine fascination for me. Tell BH we'd love to hear from her about it, as well, if she's ever inclined to share.

    By Blogger Rebecca, at 10:49 PM  
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