It’s no new news that roller derby is a rough sport. However, previous incarnations of the sport have given it a bad name in many people’s opinions. The sport no longer resembles the showboating, WWE-like sport that it once was decades ago. Instead, the sport has grown into a legitimate, competitive sport for female athletes to partake in. Athletes compete at an amateur level, where the main point of the sport is the comradery and personal advancements, not winning and notoriety.
It may surprise you who the real identities behind some of your favorite derby personalities are. The ladies who make up the Silicon Valley Roller Girls are just like the ladies of any other derby team, an eclectic mix of women from many backgrounds and professions. SVRG is made up of teachers, mothers, fitness trainers, corporate employees and more. They are the girls-next-door by day and hard-hitting derby women by night. However one of the biggest draws to this sport, which has seen a huge rebirth in the past few years, isn’t the draw of derby stardom or the guaranteed hard-hitting action. For many girls, one of the main reasons they join roller derby is for the comradery of team play.
I know that this is especially true for me. After a difficult decision to move back to my hometown in the Bay Area, I was really down about being away from all of my friends that I left behind in New Orleans. I wanted to do something where I’d meet people, especially girls, that I would actually like, and after playing sports almost my entire life, I really missed the fun and comradery of team play. I had toyed with the idea of joining a derby team while living out in the Big Easy, but I never really found the time. My moving blues were swiftly alleviated when I attended my first roller derby practice with SVRG at the end of March. Three months later, I can still say that one of the best things about my decision to join derby is the fact that I am once again apart of a team. I love the feeling of being a part of something bigger than myself, and when you join derby, you join your league and you join Women’s All Flat Track Derby, the reigning national regulator of the sport.
In addition to spending time with teammates at practice, most roller derby women are involved in derby extra-curriculars like league meetings, fundraisers, craft nights, community service and more. Soon, the women of SVRG will be doing community service at Happy Hallow, a park and zoo in San Jose, California. Recently after much planning and hard work, we recently raised $1,400 at a mud wrestling fundraiser. Selling merchandise, raffle tickets, the opportunity to see derby girls mud wrestling and spankings, the proceeds will go towards our first home turf bout during Labor Day weekend.
All of these events are the result of the women of SVRG working hard to keep the dream of derby in the Silicon Valley alive. Working together to put on all these various events brings the team closer. Derby women do have the desire to knock some girls around on the rink, but what makes a great derby team is the closeness that comes from all the work they do together off the rink.