Roller derby is hard. And not just for the reasons that you think it is. Sure it’s physically and mentally demanding to hit the track for practices and bouts, but it’s also pretty time-consuming off the track. Our organization is entirely skater-run (“by the skaters, for the skaters” is one of the mottos of our parent organization, the WFTDA), which means in addition to our daily jobs as scientists, programmers, nurses, teachers, business-owners, doctors, social workers and a slew of other professions, not to mention additional time spent as parents, volunteers, students, etc., our Dames have to run the league: insurance and paperwork, fundraising, marketing, outreach, finding venues to skate (and you can help!), coaching new recruits, spreading the derby love. One thing all of them would agree on is that being a Derby Dame is next to impossible without the support of family, friends, and co-workers.
Give a Dame an opportunity to tell you how she does it and she’ll be quick to point out that her hard work on the track should also be credited to her support network. I asked my teammates to share with me their thoughts about how they do it. Many mentioned their significant others. Apple Clobber remembers how her husband, Bill, made it possible for her to join and encouraged her along the way:
When I was first thinking about trying derby, fresh meat practice was on a night that my husband, Bill, played softball. Since we have kids, one of us would need to stay home. He took a break from softball, so that I could try out derby. Then, for a few weeks in a row, he would gently remind me that I should go to practice. Finally, I tried it and I don’t think I would have ever followed through if it weren’t for Bill. Since then, he has been very patient with how much time derby can take up. He is often the person telling me that I should go to practice and not give up, when I am feeling tired or frustrated about derby. I couldn’t do it without him!
I started playing roller derby with the Charlottesville Derby Dames in May of 2008. For two years, my husband put up with the seemingly endless practices and meetings. He could never understand what would make it necessary to have so many meetings! Once our head ref moved, he decided to give reffing a try and he, too, became a Derby Dame. Reffing didn’t work for him and, with the expansion of our team, he moved onto coaching. Now he understands why we need so many meetings, and he has even called a few himself! It has been such a boost to our marriage for both of us to be involved in this activity that has become an all-consuming part of our lives. I don’t think I could do it without him. Honestly, you can’t fully understand what derby is about unless you are in it and I am grateful that we are in it together.
Newest member of the All-Stars The Big Bangarang also recruited her boyfriend to the team:
My boyfriend, Christian (Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang’s Bang), has been very supportive in me joining roller derby. We are both very athletic and competitive people, and he completely understands my commitment to roller derby and the contact-sport side. He can’t really complain as he plays rugby, which involves plenty of time and contact.
He also decided to try fresh meat a few months ago and really liked it. Now he is the All Stars bench manager and is having a great time being involved with the team. It has been wonderful having him so involved with the Dames and allows for us to spend more time with each other especially on away bouts.
It makes sense that your off-the-track partner would be key to success in such a demanding sport, but they aren’t the only ones our Dames appreciate. Slam Gamgee points to her family as the reason she keeps derby-ing on:
My family has been incredibly supportive of my crazy decision to join derby. My Mom drove something like five hours to see my first bout. When she hasn’t been able to come to my bouts, she texts me before, during, and after the bout to tell me how proud she is of me. My Dad, upon seeing the Blocktoberfest poster on which I was featured, told me that all he wanted for his birthday was an autographed copy of that poster. It now hangs on the wall of his office (he is a Baptist minister), and he proudly tells everyone who asks about his derby-playing daughter. They have even financially invested in my derby career, purchasing workout gear and derby swag for me for all occasions. My sister even got me a custom necklace with a tiny roller skate and “Slam Gamgee” engraved on it! It is always nice to know that I have such a strong support group.
Last but not least, being a Dame sometimes takes the support of those not related to you: Co-workers and friends learn support our crazy schedules too. Bruta Liza made sure to give credit to hers:
This week I was very touched that a coworker of mine changed her schedule to allow me to work different days. I’m doing 3 derby travel weekends this month and it was seriously impacting my pocketbook and leave bank. She’s always been so kind, positive and excited about my participation in roller derby, but this month she went above and beyond. It really helps to have coworkers who enjoy your dedication to the sport instead of seeing it as something that negatively impacts work. Thank you, Caroline!
I also want to acknowledge the love and support I get from my derby wife, MatilDa molish and best friends Alice and Morgan. Alice always reminds me that what I’m doing is incredible–and that she’s proud of me and tells her fancy L.A friends that she knows a derby player. Morgan will listen to my boring stories and tell me I’m not crazy for caring so much. MatilDa traveled to our first away game, encumbered by twins and life stuff and cheered me on. They all put up with me being even worse at calling and keeping in touch than I was before. They are there for me when I need to get outside of the derby bubble. Thank you.
And of course, Dames support each other. Bruta went on to note “I know this is an article on how outside people help us do our magic on the track… but I also want to thank my teammates for inspiring and pushing me to be better. And want to thank SparKills in particular for her support.”
Finally, all the Dames want to thank you: our fans, volunteers, sponsors, supporters, and community. You allow us to do something we love that has given us so much: confidence, friendship, strength, creativity, passion. Derby love to all!
Post by Grëtel vön Metäl (who herself couldn’t do it without Mr. vön Metäl
(and her cat Zooey vön Metäl!))
This is my first bouting season with the Charlottesville Derby Dames, so when schedule cards came out, I grabbed a huge stack of them and started passing them out to all of my friends. Some friends were already familiar with the team while others only heard of roller derby through me, but everyone was asking the same question: “Why don’t I see the Charlottesville Derby Dames on here?”
You probably noticed it, too. This year, rather than the usual CDD listings, there are bouts scheduled for the All-Stars or the Belmont Bruisers. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to help!
As the team has gained momentum, it has also grown in size. The Dames found themselves with the best problem a derby team could ask for; there were too many players for a standard roster. So what do to? We wanted everyone who was interested in participating in bouts to be able to do so, and to do so often. After some deliberation, it was determined that the best way to make this happen was to form two teams, the All-Stars and a B-team (the Belmont Bruisers).
The Bruisers are excited to continue the Charlottesville Derby Dames’ tradition of competitive and entertaining games. We have been working hard to prepare for the 2013 bouting season, and we can’t wait to show all of our amazing fans how far we’ve come! In anticipation of our first home bout on March 16th, I asked a few of the Bruisers some questions:
What makes the Belmont Bruisers a formidable team?
“We may be new, but we have determination and moxie in spades. We don’t give up!” —Bashin’ Robbin
What is your favorite thing about the Belmont Bruisers?
“No matter what, we have fun! Derby is something that we all love and have worked our butts off for, and I think that shows on the track.” —Draconian Angel
If you could say one thing to our fans, what would it be?
“It means a lot to us that people bring their families to come and see us play. Win or lose, we get a lot of energy from the crowd.” –Gadgetjamz
So come one, come all to meet the Belmont Bruisers and see them tearin’ up the track in their first home bout! Tickets are now available at Blue Moon Diner, Rivanna Gear and Apparel, or from your favorite Dame. You can even purchase tickets online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/346925. We can’t wait to meet you!
Post by Slam Gamgee
As I left practice one night, my car started to feel a little bit off. I turned off the radio and heard the telltale thudthudthudthud that means you have something stuck in your tire. Sighing in dread, I pulled into a gas station parking lot and found that what I feared was true; one of my back tires had a large valve stuck in it, and it was already nearly drained of air. It should have seemed obvious to call AAA, or maybe a tow truck. Instead, I called The Big Bangarang, my derby wife. She and her boyfriend, Tough Schist, left a dinner with friends to come to my rescue. Within minutes, Bang was shining a flashlight on Schist, who had adeptly jacked up the car and was removing the flat tire. Both assured me that it was “absolutely no trouble,” although I know that leaving a warm restaurant to change a tire in a chilly parking lot was not on their list of preferred activities for the evening.
This moment is just one of many that make up one of the greatest friendships I have ever had: my derby marriage. A derby marriage is a declaration of close friendship, but more than that, it is a commitment to support one another both in and out of derby. A wife is a person who always has your back. She will never insult you by taking it easy on you at practice. She will notice your improvements and make sure that you notice them, too. She will work with you to help you excel in areas that you previously felt were weaknesses. When/If you get injured, she’s the one who takes care of you and worries about you. She’ll even back you up at the afterparty.
Bang has been all of those things for me. She always gives 100% at practice, even when we’re opponents. I’ve given her high-fives in between scrimmage jams to celebrate particularly hard hits that she dealt me. She texts me after practices when I feel discouraged and names areas in which she saw improvement. When I bring up things I’m not good at, she helps me work on them. She lends me her shoulder during heartbreak and laughs with me during moments of joy. When I pull out my signature dance move, the running man, during derby parties, she does her best to make me look cool anyway.
In late September I cracked my ribs, but continued to attend practice and participate in low- and no-impact skating exercises. During a drill, I tripped over Bang’s skate and took a dive. As I was falling, I felt her grab me around the waist and I started to twist around mid-air. She was throwing herself underneath of me to protect my ribs from further injury. I had a soft landing, although I can’t say the same for Bang. Landing on a concrete floor with another human on top of you is far from comfortable, but she took it all in stride and insisted that she was fine. Then the two of us rejoined the pace line and continued participating in the drill.
This may be an extreme case of derby wives caring for one another, but it perfectly represents the union of Derby Marriage. Your derby wife protects you from harm, cares about you, and worries about your injuries. She does not, however, coddle you. She did not insist that I sit out of the drill, lest I trip over another skate. She brushed me off, made sure that I was okay, and then had me finish the drill. She was my protector, my friend, and my coach.
So Bang, if you’re reading this, thank you for being my wife, and Happy Valentine’s Day (or should I say Galentine’s Day?)! You’re the best derby wife a girl could ask for.
Post by Slam Gamgee
Just one year ago, my life was pretty mediocre. I followed the typical educational path, achieved the typical accomplishments, and found a typical job in a typical cubicle. I wore basic business-casual outfits, I avoided conflict at all costs, and if I did go to parties (to be honest, I rarely did), I didn’t talk to anyone new. I was a woman of my routine, and my range of activities was getting progressively more limited. In terms of my actual accomplishments, I didn’t feel like I had anything significant to brag about; that is, of course, until I attended my first Fresh Meat practice on May 6, 2012. That day changed my life.
Joining roller derby is the boldest thing I’ve ever done. It was a huge leap for me to join, and it is delightfully freeing, wildly rewarding, and deeply satisfying. Derby has taught me:
1. … to get out of my comfort zone. It took a year of thought and B-One Bomber’s persistent urging for me to decide to join the team. I had a lot of excuses; my sister was getting married, and I needed to help my family with the planning. I had adopted a dog and she needed too much time and attention. I was too weak. The truth was that Derby scared me, and I was allowing that fear to outweigh the possibility that I would find something that I loved. I am so glad that B-One didn’t give up on asking. It was time to break free from what I considered “comfortable.”
2. … to enjoy progress, however small. There’s something peaceful about skating, which feels ironic considering that derby is a contact sport. Skating gives me a time to stop thinking about my problems and start focusing on my successes. At practice, I forget about all of the things in my day-to-day life that feel overwhelming. I start to celebrate the tiny achievements that come my way instead. That break is an oasis.
3. … to have a little gumption and believe in myself. Suddenly, I feel strong, beautiful, and self-assured. When I look in the mirror, I love the person I see. I’m not sure that I could have said that about myself before I joined the team, and it is empowering to be able to say it now. This change isn’t just a result of my new derby muscles; it’s an inner change that came from plucking up courage, confidence, and determination at each practice.
4. … to broaden my social horizons. Derby has brought me together with people that I never would have met if I had stayed inside my routine. The women and men with the Charlottesville Derby Dames are some of the nicest, warmest, and most genuine people I’ve ever met. I’m amazed daily by their care for not only derby, but for each other. It is truly an honor to consider them friends, and I am constantly grateful that I have them in my life.
So, as we approach next month’s open recruitment, I have to ask you something. Have you considered joining the Charlottesville Derby Dames? If you have, what’s stopping you from joining? You’ll have the backing of dedicated trainers and supportive teammates, and you may even get to shock a few of your friends. What’s there to lose? This could be the greatest adventure that you’ve ever embarked on, and we would love to be on the journey with you.
Post by Slam Gamgee
The Dames are so excited to launch our slick new website! It’s been almost a year in the planning and making and we hope you love it as much as we do. Most of the content was updated or added to the old site last summer, so you can still come here to find out all about our team and how to get involved. Some new features we are rolling out include:
- A Schedule of Events that includes both home and away bouts, Fresh Meat, and Dames’ events.
- Expanded Player profiles.
- A gallery featuring pictures from the whole history of our team, videos of the Dames in Action, and all of our bout posters (select “Photo,” “Video,” of “Bout Posters” from the drop-down list at the top of the page).
- More blog posts written from the perspective of being a Dame will show up here in the coming months. Add us to your RSS feed to keep up to date.
Huge thanks go to fan, sponsor, and web-design guru Brian Rimel for helping us make our plans for derby domination via internets a reality!
What a year it’s gonna be! Download your own copy of the Dames 2013 Home Bout Schedule (collect all 4) or find all our bouts online in our Schedule of Events!
Are you the best team in Virginia? Do you want an opportunity to prove it to the regional derby community? Would you like to petition to change the VA state slogan to “Virginia is for Shovers”? Or do you just want to skate?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above you need to SAVE THE DATE for the Virginia is for Shovers unofficial state tournament and roller derby extravaganza. This event will be hosted by the Charlottesville Derby Dames smack-dab in the center of the state on August 17, 2013.
- A tournament involving VA leagues with a main show down event in the evening
- Mix-up (female and co-ed) scrimmages open to all (VA and out-of-state) leagues and individual skaters played by the current WFTDA ruleset
- Vendors of skate gear and accessories (and maybe a few non-skate related vendors)
- Entertainment and activities for skaters and their entourage at the event venue.
Again, SAVE THE DATE on August 17 for a trip to Central VA and please RSVP your interest as a team to interleaguerep[AT]charlottesvillederbydames[DOT]com ASAP so we can develop this event to give you the most bang for your buck. Please include your league name, city and state, and contact information when you RSVP.
Check out last year’s tournament website at http://vaisforshovers.com.
The Charlottesville Derby Dames want to thank all of our sponsors, supporters, volunteers, and fans for a fantastic 2012 season We can’t wait to see you all for a bigger and better season in 2013!
The Charlottesville Derby Dames are proud to announce that they have been accepted as a member of the WFTDA, the international governing body for the sport of women’s flat track roller derby and a member organization for leagues to collaborate and network.
As a new member of the WFTDA, The Dames join the ranks of 173 all-female, skater owned and operated leagues worldwide that have united to lead the sport of women’s flat track roller derby. After successfully completing the WFTDA Apprentice Program, they can now enjoy the benefits of full WFTDA membership, which include a vote on WFTDA policies and rules, and eligibility for ranking and tournaments. The Dames will begin their WFTDA membership a Class C member in the East region.
It’s time to give thanks for roller derby… Come out to the Derby Dames Fresh Meat Open Recruitment every Sunday in November at the Key Recreation Center, Downtown Charlottesville!
WHERE: Key Center, 800 E. Market St., Charlottesville (right across the street from Guadalajara)
WHEN: Every Sunday in November (11/4, 11/11, 11/18, 11/25) from 6:00-8:00pm
Got questions in the meantime? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or click ‘Participate‘ link on this page!