I want to be a Roller Girl.

For years I have harbored a secret desire to do something that both thrills & terrifies me to the core.  And today I am finally telling the world.

I want to be a Roller Girl.


You may not be familiar with Flat Track Roller Derby.  To be honest, I’m a newbie myself.  But when I first heard about it, several years ago in Philadelphia, I was blown away.  Roller Derby is simply the coolest, most empowering sport for women EVER.  I wanted to try out for the Philly Roller Girls then and there, but.. But…  I didn’t know enough about it.  I’d never even been to a game!  At the time, my kids were small, and to top it off – I have Meniere’s Disease.  B/c of Meniere’s I can’t do all sorts of things.  Eat salt, Fly, listen to an iPod, have dental work, the list goes on.  Can you imagine what ROLLER DERBY COULD DO TO ME??!!  In short: I was afraid.  Very afraid.  Of getting hurt, of getting vertigo, of putting myself OUT THERE.  And so *Roller Girl* got shelved.  Until last week.  When I read the Philly Liberty Belles were coming to town.  Saturday night, instead of sitting on the couch watching a movie, I took Maddie to the Portland Expo for our very first Roller Derby.



If you are new to this sport, like me, then you may have questions.  Important questions.  Like The Rules.  I’ll be honest.  I don’t know them.  But having watched one bout, here’s what I’ve learned.  The bout (or game) is divided into two 30-minute periods, separated by a 20-minute intermission.  The basic gist – and forgive me if I am wrong – 5 skaters from each team are on a circuit track.  Eight women (4 from each team) form a big heap up front.


The remaining 2 girls (one from each team) start behind on a different line.  They are the Jammers.  They score points.


The whistle blows.  The pack takes off skating and the jammers follow.  The women up front try to block the opposing team’s jammer from breaking through the pack.  The jammers each try to break past the pack to get out in front.  The best jammers act as both offense (trying to get out in front), as well as defense (simultaneously blocking their opponent jammer).  Whichever jammer gets in front of the pack first is pointed out as LEAD JAMMER by a whistle toot and a pointing referee.  That lead jammer now skates round the track to score points.  The rest of her team tries to keep the other jammer back.


Players can get penalties for doing bad stuff.  I am not sure exactly what.  But it seemed to involve pain. Or maybe just poking.. It’s hard to tell.


When a player is bad they get sent to the penalty box for a period of time.


Those three people on the stage (behind the penalty box) were the MCs.  They were great.  Providing running commentary and helpful tidbits of information all bout long.  I particularly liked the way they kept encouraging the crowd to root for both teams and give lots of love to all the players.  No nasty bloodlust here!  Also fun was the interaction between MCs and the “Beer Garden” crowd.  HOW’S EVERYONE IN THE BEER GARDEN? they would ask — to a ROARING response.  I LOVE ROLLER DERBY!

Unlike many other sports (I am talking to YOU, golf) Roller Derby is ACTION PACKED and incredibly entertaining to watch.  The bout literally flew by!

One thing that struck me about the sport is how incredibly supportive all of the women are toward each other – opponents included.  Before and after the game, the teams lined up to slap hands.


And at the end of the bout, the teams huddled to select an MVP from the opposing team.


Each MVP was announced and then given the opportunity to speak to the crowd; both heaped praise on the opposing team.  It was lovely.  A sport that not only empowers women to be strong and fierce, but celebrates each others talents – WELL.  Count me in.

After the bout we stayed to meet many of the Liberty Belles.  Maddie had them sign her program.


Everyone was super nice, and more than one player encouraged me to try out.  When I asked BUT Won’t I get the crap kicked out of me?? I was told Of COURSE! EVERYONE DOES.



Even the refs look GREAT!


Wikipedia’s entry on Roller Derby.

35 thoughts on “I want to be a Roller Girl.

  1. Yes MTAE – Those ladies skate HARD! The floor was littered w/ skate wheels and at one point someone even lost a screw. Which luckily was found before it did any damage to the important stuff (FLESH, that is).

    Mssc54 – ME TOO!! As for the meat comment: Sinewy = TOUGH. YAY!

  2. DUDE! You are supposed to SUPPORT ME IN MY ENDEAVORS – NOT make me feel self-conscious. ENOUGH W/ THE SKINNY CRAP.

    I may be lean. But LEAN = MEAN. ROARRR!!!

  3. I too LOVE roller derby. (I play ice hockey in the winter so I figure I’d have to be a natural right?) A few years back TLC channel had a reality series following a roller derby team in Texas. It was great TV. Keep us posted on the tryout dates!

  4. Sounds like a total BLAST!!! You’ll do great and love doing it, no doubt. Don’t let those Jealous 🙂 people worry you – I have a son that is 6′ 5″ and only about 160 – and he’s tough as nails physically and very athletic. (But he hates basketball – such a waste. He loves soccer and tennis the most). But I digress. The ref gets the cutest skirt, but I’d want to be in the ACTION! You GO, girl!

  5. There are tons of way to be involved with your local league! You can be a referee and skate along side these incredible ladies. Sometimes one will go out of bounds and you’re suddenly in the middle of the action. Could also be a way for you to take the leap into being a roller girl. Check it out!

  6. TRY OUT!! I have vertigo as well. It doesn’t affect how I play at all. I think you’d be a great addition as you seem to have a passion for the game and that is what counts. Your observations just from one bout alone are really astute.

    TRY OUT!! the bumps and bruises are celebrated.

    (Philly Roller Girls)

  7. My brother and I are friends with, and the screenprinters for, the Philly Roller Girls…and your enthusiasm with this great sport, is wonderful. And you even got one of the Belles shirts…awesome.
    To correct a couple things…you are NOT too skinny. You’re wirey, and MANY of the best skaters in the nation are built just like you. And you don’t need a big butt, though skating will most definitely make it ‘toner’. 🙂
    Have a great day.

  8. thanks so much for coming out! i’m glad you had so much fun…you definitely got the gist of the game!

    …and don’t let the naysayers get you down — as you saw, women of ALL sizes play derby! being thin or full-figured doesn’t make a hit hurt any less!

    philly roller girls

  9. Oh no. OH NO. I have been resisting the pull of the roller derby. I refuse to admit this exists. Don’t do this to me!

    P.S. You would look AWESOME in that SASSY blue dress. Or a tutu. For the love of god, TAKE PICTURES.

  10. the NAMES are classic!!!! i’m dying laughing over here…’robin drugstores’ does it get any better?!?!?

    dishy, if you want to roller derby, get out there and DO it! i think you should host a contest to come up with your NEW ROLLER DERBY NAME!!!!

  11. I’ve read your blog several times and still can’t understand the rules….but then I’m a man and can’t multi-track!

  12. CONNIE & CURLY!! NO MORE DISPARAGING COMMENTS ABOUT MY BODY. i cannot take the abuse – and I’m not even on the rink yet.

    Hey Kerri! WELL, I’ve signed up for the email newsletter.. Next step: work on my SKATING!

    THANK YOU TRACIE!! For your lovely email of support!

    Zombielicious, LOVE the name – LOVE your designs. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

    R2. My biggest concern (apart from getting my ass kicked) has been what’ll happen w/ my wacky ear. THANK YOU truly for taking the time to comment! Great news! Rock on!

    THANK YOU JIMMY! I lovelovelove my t shirt – and will wear it proudly. Nothing like showing a little Philly pride up here in Portland. PS: wonderful to hear I am NOT TOO SKINNNNY (YO!!listen UP CURLY!!)

    Shucks Violet – Thank YOU so much!! My daughter & I had a blast!

    And.. just so people out there know. Violet kicked butt on Saturday — along w/ the rest of the Liberty Belles. There’s a reason they’re ranked 3rd (now..2nd?) in the NATION. The final score at the bout I attended: 161 to 17 – PHILLY. SHAAZAM.

    Oh Hayden – you would be the essence of awesomeness in a pair of skates. Does Raleigh have a team??

    Curly babe – I am gonna pretend this is your first comment – and I couldn’t agree more. The names are FABBBULOUS. Robin Drugstores kicked serious booty on Saturday – she is an amazing jammer. Offense/defense – the woman does it ALLL. PS: I am willing to take suggestions, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.. xo

    Heyya IP! Way to blame it on the gender. Good call!

  13. Of course Raleigh has a team. They practice all of 3 miles from the Love Bungalow. And I love skating. I saw the women one time and they are exactly the kind of women I would want to hang out with: sassy, interesting, independent, smart, badass. But roller derby??

  14. Dishy Darling…I am just jealous!!! If you want to be a roller girl you know we will cheer the loudest!!!

    CWG…I think someone called us naysayers…

    1. yes, well, i’ve been called worse. haha. i actually LOVE to rollerskate (4 wheels with stopper on the front) and used to spend my saturdays at the rink). i could do all kinds of fancy skating…in my LEG WARMERS. i was cool. perhaps you and i should take up roller derby, connie. i could be NATurally Curly and you could be CON artist. mwa ha ha.


  15. Looks like great fun.
    I tried the kids roller blades once & it was nothing short of a rolling disaster, my back was sore for days…

  16. I would be more embarrassed having to answer to one of those noms de guerre than by being out there getting crushed.

    You do look fantab!

    Now. Shameless tie ins. (1) You may recall that Carrie, on her MyCoolJob blog, profiled her friend Rich who moonlights as a roller derby referee. (2) He was also the star of her film “The Man Who Would Be a Millionaire.” (3) Here is an especially nifty photo of a roller derby match just getting underway. If you want to know why it looks so unusual, read my latest blog post.

    I did warn you I was being shameless.

  17. So…..did you decide to try out????? 🙂

    We have a couple local teams….fun sport to watch!!!

    I’m always cautious of anything I have to attach to my feet….wheels, skiis, etc. I’m such a chicken. 🙂

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