Trying to show roller derby in the eyes of others as a sport goes much deeper than debunking what a skater wears or their derby name. In my next post on –> Derby Girls Blog <– I talk feminism stuff. But I’m not very eloquent on the subject so I recommend you also check out –> Fit and Feminist <– for more!
For those who pay attention to the derby world, they know that it’s not only the derby name and boutfit that can show a player’s personality. For those who aren’t familiar, if you get a chance to catch a derby girl standing still, check out her helmet.
Many adorn their helmets with paint and stickers (both of the home made or manufactured kind) to enhance their derby persona or show personal convictions, political ties, social stances, sexual orientation or support of, favourite music, hobbies, etc. etc. etc.
According to my blog, March 14, 2010 was the first time I officially skated with the goal of becoming a derby girl and it took me until December 17, 2010 to mark my helmet. I don’t know the process that other gals go through when stickering up their helmet, but being a graphic designer, I took the decisions I had to make about what to put on my helmet very seriously; thinking about shapes, colour and spacing between all the paraphernalia I had chosen. Fittingly, I placed my first sticker with many of my dames present, during a Christmas crafting get-together. (Yes, we craft together. Don’t judge.)
My first sticker…
For those not versed in the words of David Lee Roth, that’s a line from Panama from their 1984 album.
Swinging my helmet around, you see a couple familiar symbols…
I used double sided carpet tape to get the wrapper securely attached to the helmet. Yup, carpet tape. We’ll see how that backfires on me…
And now the front…
The letters are cheap dollar store ones and they are kind of starting to fall off from jammer panties being put on and off over them. I may reinforce with clear tape over top, or I may see how my name evolves as the letters fall. (HER LAST would be pretty funny if the letters fell that way.)
And now swinging around to the other side…
Those present while I adorned my helmet with stickers would tell you I had minor panic attack moments before attaching my first one. Not only is it a big commitment, like choosing pint striping for your car (Do people even do that to their vehicles any more?) but the pressure to make those stickers move around a curve and stick without bumps or seams is very difficult. I failed on each and every one of them. Oh well. Adds to the charm, right?
So that’s my official helmet debut on this blog. But I’m growing tired of talking about myself. I want to know what’s on YOUR helmet and what made you choose that for your helmet.
I can’t be the only one who obsesses about this stuff, right?
Dear readers, I’ve been neglecting my blog and I am sorry. Lack of time and topics has been a hurdle. (Do you REALLY want to know how long and fast I skate when I work out? Five kms in 15 mins btw hahahaha) So now I am opening up the panel for questions.
If you could ask a roller derby player any question, what would it be?
Melissa B from Facebook asked me: “How much does it hurt to get knocked down in a derby?”
You’ll be surprised to know the bone-crushing hits that you see on most derby highlight reels aren’t the only way to stop a player, so they don’t happen all the time. But when they do you’re (hopefully) wearing hi-end knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards to keep your body safe from impact. Players are also taught to properly fall, to help stop injuries from impacting the floor. Players are also taught to properly hit, so you don’t dislocate your shoulder throwing a check. Plus during a game, your adrenaline is so high, you don’t feel a thing until about 3 hours later.
When you’re not giving/receiving bone-crushing hits, you’re booty blocking opposing team members and leaning on other players, pushing them out of bounds to make room for your jammer. This makes for lots of velcro burn from rubbing against equipment which often hurts more than bruising!
The rules of engagement are also there to keep players safe. There are legal hitting zones and you can only hit with certain parts of your body. Blockers can only hit within the area of the pack, jammers can engage each other at any time while rounding the track. But circumstances arise where the rules aren’t always obeyed, which often create the most crowd-pleasing jams.
If you’re a jammer, you’re on the receiving end of hits more often than not (did you watch that video on the link above? Watch the girls with the stars on their helmets) But it just makes you a faster and more agile skater 🙂
ka_vinc from Twitter asks: “How do you come up with your nick names?”
Believe it or not, no two girls can have a similar derby name, especially if they play in a city near each other. There is an International Rollergirls’ Master Roster to check if your name is already taken. In fact, my first choice, Barra Cougar, was too similar to another gal who plays for the Bad Reputations in Vancouver. I had to get in touch with her and ask permission if I could also use the name (hers was BaraCouga). But she declined my request, saying she worked hard to earn her name but encouraged me to keep trying. Cherri Blaster came about because of my love of that particular candy… practically lived on them in college.
On the fun side of things, there is a roller derby name generator that helps you pick a name. But many girls look at their skills, their names or nicknames, favourite movies, their heritage, their jobs or their physical characteristics to pick a name. On the Deathbridge Derby Dames, for example, we have Half Pint Havoc who’s short, but wrecks havoc on all she meets, Lili Von Schtopp who is known for stopping all who meet her and Attila Themum, who’s a mom, plus so many more awesome names!
Choosing a name also means figuring out your track persona, which is even more fun! I’ve seen some of the meanest looking, acting, named girls on the track, but off the track they are sweet as pie! You get to create a full package.
dylpurcell from Twitter asks: “Why not try leopard-print leggings? 80s-style neon leg earners warmers?”
Actually leopard isn’t really in my costume options. I try and leave the leopard print fashion decisions to Rebbles Flintstone and Nixxi Knox, who look way better in leopard anyway. As for the leg warmers, neon is usually worn best by Dream Whip, but I have a lovely pair of black-and-red striped leg warmers.
I do, however, sport fishnets every so often, as well as derby socks. I also own a pair of tights with cherries on them. But my favourite by far is sporting bare legs. Skating fast tends to raise my body temperature pretty high, I don’t like to cover up too much. Plus I have a decent set of gams to show off!
That’s all I have for questions right now. Thanks to the three of you who submitted! If anyone has any other questions, feel free to post them in a comment and I’ll answer them too!
Derby love to you all!