Do you remember Roller Derby? The rough and crazy sport women played in the 60’s and 70’s? Many people don’t know that Roller Derby has been revived in the past few years, especially in Ontario. I started playing Roller Derby in 2014 as an original member of Nickel City Roller Derby’s Junior team. I was first introduced to NCRD by a friend who was starting the junior team. She asked me if I would be interested in the sport and of course, I said yes. In reality, I had no idea what Roller Derby was or how it was played. After a lot of research and many practices, I finally got the hang of it.
Roller Derby is played on a round, flat track with 10 players, 5 from each team. Each team has 4 players called blockers on the track at a time. One of these blockers is called the pivot, they are like the quarterback of the blockers, they make all the decisions and call the plays. They also wear a panty with a strip on their helmet. A panty is a fabric cap worn on the helmet to distinguish special positions. The fifth player is called the jammer, they are the point scorers. They wear a panty with a star on their helmet. The 8 blockers start off the jam, the name for the current “playing time”, in front of the two jammers in a group called the pack. After the whistle is blown, the pack takes off and the jammers try and make their way through. The first time through the pack, the jammers do not score any points, however the first jammer out of the pack is called the lead jammer. The lead jammer can, at any time, call of the jam by hitting her hands on her helmet then her hips over and over. Jammers do this when they see the opposing teams jammer may pass them and either become lead jammer, or score more points. How do you score point? Points in this game are equal to the number of girls of the opposing team you pass while going through the pack. Those are the basics of Roller Derby.
Roller Derby is a very aggressive sport. Many people are hesitant to play because they are afraid they will get hurt. I won’t lie and say I never got hurt because I did. However, it was never anything more than a bruise or track burn. The fun of the sport out ways the fear of getting hit. It’s no more aggressive than hockey or football. However, unlike football or hockey, in Roller Derby we are all friends and hits are something to laugh at after the game and bruises become a big competition to see who has the biggest one.
Roller Derby came into my life at a very important time. It taught me many things including leadership skills, team building skills, cooperativeness and it also taught me how to be confident in myself. I was a jammer and a pivot, both are positions that require a lot of confidence. Being a pivot, you cannot be afraid to make calls and to sometimes make a mistake. Being a jammer, you have to be able to problem solve and accept that sometimes you cannot get through the pack. This also taught me that failure is not always a bad thing. I have always been a very competitive person and never wanted to fail. I thought failure was the worst thing that could ever happen, until Roller Derby. With every failure, I learned something new that made me a better player and opponent.
I also got the chance to play all over Ontario. I played with Team Canada, Team Alliston and Team Toronto. Being on Sudbury’s competitive team, it was fun to play against girls that were on my team when I played out of town. The Family Channel also featured me in their show #We’reSavvy when they had a Roller Derby segment.
Like pageantry, Roller Derby has helped me gain confidence in myself and to know that I can do absolutely anything. If you are interested in playing Roller Derby, see if your city has a team and sign up for their fresh meat program. Fresh meat is a beginners program that teaches you everything from skating to stopping to hitting. It truly changed my life and I hope it can change others lives too. My Roller Derby team became my second family and no matter where I go in my life, they will always be with me.