How to Make it in Roller Derby

It’s commonly understood that if you’d signed up for an amateur team sport, paid into insurance, bought the equipment, and paid club dues — by that point you’re on some kind of team playing actual games.

Not so here. Roller derby is so unique, so very precious, that the normal way of doing things won’t suffice. Therefore, do all of the things mentioned above, then expect the following:

1. You’ll be put through several months of mandatory skills training because most people have to learn to skate normal style first, never mind a crazy full-contact style in which as many as five people could be simultaneously fucking with you.

The attrition rate is horrendous during this phase. Many get hurt or scared off. They leave and don’t come back. But you won’t give up, will you? You’re here to prove to yourself what a bad bitch you are, and you’ll persevere through anything.

2. If you make it through a round of training, you are evaluated for a list of skills that may or may not be relevent, given the ruleset changes about once a year. One should also have a significant level of fitness to pass this evaluation, which for many people takes more than a few months, especially if they’ve already sustained an injury (and many do. Don’t give up!).

3. TRY-OUT! Get put through your paces over the course of one or two days. So much fun. Athletics! Leave try-outs battered and exhausted and wait anxiously for your results:

A) Congrats, you’ve been chosen! Two things can happen from here:

aa. A coach has already drafted you to a team, and now begins your competition for a roster spot in any one of five home games during a 10 month season. My advice: work hard, kiss all the right asses, pay your dues in every conceivable sense, and maybe your friends and family can see you play an actual game by this time next year.

In the meantime, train in obscurity, offer your volunteer work to the league, engage in high school politics, and adjust your life priorities because all this is extremely expensive and time consuming.

ab. You’re not on a team yet, but have been assigned to a drafting pool from which the team coaches may draw new team members as needed. You have no idea when the next draft will be. In the meantime work hard, kiss all the right asses, etc… Also, try not to be discouraged if you’re passed over for multiple separate draft rounds. You’re just not good enough yet. You’ll find a fit somewhere — however long it takes.

B) Sorry, you didn’t pass try-outs. Be sure to take advantage of the skills training program you just graduated from and in which you progressively outmatch the incoming crop of newbies. There will be another try-out next quarter or next year. We haven’t planned it. Organizing regular intake is hard. In the meantime, stay involved! Work hard and kiss all the right asses, and don’t forget to log your volunteer work!

And don’t forget that it’s all part of the process.