Friday, April 30, 2010

Derby Trek: The Next Generation

Look at this group of happy little girls chumming around with each other. When you see this, what is the first thing that runs through your mind?

Well if you're anything like me, the dialogue in your head goes something like this:
Awww, look how cute they are.  You know what would be awesome?  If we taught them how to kick each other's butts for 60 minutes straight.
If you had the exact same thought that I did then congratulations, you're ready to do like me and help start a girl's junior roller derby league!  Yup, that's right, I've made a huge change in my place in the geography of roller derby by jumping from WFTDA league referee to junior roller derby league coach/co-founder.  "But wait a minute," you say to yourself.  "Those girls are WAY too cute and fragile to be interested in a rough sport like roller derby!"  Well maybe it would help if a showed you the uncropped version of that picture:

To clarify, they're in a church front lawn at a junior roller derby garage sale/fundraiser and they're wearing a mixture of pads and rollerskates because they're so excited about roller derby starting up for girls their age that they can't contain their excitement.  Attendance for a preliminary meeting at a local rec center before there was any real organization was so good that all seats were full and people were standing around the outside walls of the room.  Girls who have never had the least bit of interest in playing organized sports and have never been on a team of any sort are bubbling with anticipation of our upcoming first practice.  And this story is not a fluke.  Junior leagues are starting to pop up in North America and the Australian continent as fast as adult leagues were in the early years of flat-track derby and more are forming every day.

While I haven't done any sort of scientific study, I feel pretty confident that I can tell you exactly why this is catching on so quickly.  If a girl plays basketball, she is playing "girls basketball".  If she joins a soccer league, she is playing "girl's soccer".  Until a bunch of fed-up women in Austin, TX first taped the shape of a roller derby track on a skating rink floor, there was no sport where women led the way and men were a conditional sort of second citizen.  But in the world of modern roller derby, that is all changed.  Women dominate this sport by a staggering margin.  If we see a mention of a new roller derby league, we assume it's a women's league unless there is something in the name that specifies that it is a men's league.  A vibrant and growing WFTDA hosts 4 regional tournaments and a national championship for women, while men scrape to find enough players and to book other teams to play.  Unlike every other sport I can think of, women killed the beast, butchered it and are feasting on the choicest cuts while men crouch under the table with sad eyes hoping a few scraps fall their way.  Women unquestionably own roller derby, the girls of today see it and they want in right here and now.

Sometimes good things are born from sad ones.  My wife and I started spearheading the formation of junior roller derby in our town because she ruptured a disc in her back (not a derby injury btw), had surgery and was told she could never play roller derby again.  While this was very disappointing for us at the time, it turns out to have been a blessing for almost 40 kids who are now fired up and ready to get fantastic exercise, make new friends, get coaching by a knowledgeable roller derby veteran and have loads of fun that wouldn't have been available to them otherwise.

I wrote all of that to get to this:  If you participated in roller derby, have retired, still love derby and live in a town with no junior roller derby league, grab the steering wheel, yell "YEEEHAW" and push the pedal to the floor.  Use Facebook, Craigslist, MySpace and the like to start collecting interest, get the support of your local adult league, make some calls to find a practice space, file your 501c-3 paperwork and then sit back with a sense of fulfillment as the adorable little girls of your community learn how to give each other hematomas.  Take it from my wife and me, you'll end up being as excited about it as the skaters.

Want to take the plunge and start junior roller derby in your community?  Email asking for help and we'll send you all the documentation, forms, registration packets etc. that we are using.

1 comment:

  1. That's awesome! It's such a shame that your wife can no longer play, but what a fantastic way to give people a leg up. I can guarantee that if there had been a junior team where I live I would have signed up as soon as I could walk. Qudos to you!