Honey's HuddleEnough Hockey…How ‘Bout Roller Derby?Heather Dowling

Living in LA, I couldn’t help but get caught up in the excitement of the LA Kings and their battle for the Stanley Cup. Hockey is a blast to watch, especially live. It’s a thrill-a-minute testosterone-filled thrill-ride without a doubt.

But, like I always do when watching sports, I started thinking about the female equivalent. Is there anywhere that women have a chance to exert that kind of raw physical aggression and athleticism? In a real way, not as a gimmick like mud wrestling or bikini “hockey”?

Enter, Roller Derby! Think I’m kidding? There’s actually talk of roller derby being an Olympic sport in 2020. Per Wikipedia, there are more than 1,200 amateur leagues all over the globe organized for serious competition.

Jane McManus, from espnW.com, talks about the evolution of the sport, “…it’s not about faking an elbow to the face and wearing pretty fishnets anymore. It’s strategy and athleticism.”

Despite what you may think, the sport isn’t just a bunch of sneering women with full-sleeve tattoos and tube socks. It’s about power, competition and teamwork. The women involved in this sport are seriously empowered and have some serious passion.

Says Brooke A. Nail (yes, this is her stage name), of the Arizona Desert Dolls Roller Derby. “Being empowered isn’t just about how many tattoos or piercings you have or how many ‘bitches you’ve beat down’.  It’s about being in a healthy, nurturing environment that enables and encourages everyone to be the best they can be.  Derby builds my confidence enough to be able to take down whatever ‘bitches’ get in my way in everyday life!”

The “bitches” in every day life…I started contemplating that. I don’t think she just means nasty, manipulative, double-talking broads. I think she means all of the nasty elbows-to-the-face that life can throw at us.

As the “fairer sex”, we mostly respond to the stress and confrontation of a constantly changing and challenging world with peacemaking and problem solving. So many of the women I know who aren’t even mothers, are Moms – to everyone. Then there are the women I know who are trying to play with the “big boys”, and end up trying to play the way those boys play – leaving them hard and unsympathetic.

Maybe sometimes the “flight or fight” response to all that stress needs to get played out physically. I can imagine roller derby being a pretty great outlet for that.

Hillary Osborne, a writer for The Guardian in the U.K. wrote a piece about the quickly growing popularity of roller derby in London. In it, she talks to Dr. Victor Thompson, a clinical sports psychologist, who says “Adrenaline rush, physical stimulation, endorphin release (the feel-good hormones), the challenge, the camaraderie of working in a team, the common goal … feeling like you are alive. For many, the question isn’t why would you play such sport, but why AREN’T you playing such a sport?”

It seems a gal could see some serious health benefits from takin’ it to the jammer, too! Samantha Van Fleet for Yahoo Sports writes, “There aren’t many sports that work all of the muscles groups so well, so roller derby is a good one to increase tone and build muscle all throughout the body.”

I don’t think any of my workouts could keep up with this!

I don’t know that I’ll be strapping a pair of skates anytime soon, but I have a newfound respect for the ladies who do and I hope to see them skating for gold in 2020. I’ll let ‘Pushy Tushy’, of the Desert Dolls have the last word.

“I love derby because…..

  • I like to smell hard work on my pads when I open my skate bag.
  • The genuine smile that comes to my face when I was caught off guard & am hit to the ground.
  • The sound of my breathing when I am skating as fast as I can.
  • The burning in my legs from hours of skating.
  • Skating with the most genuine, honest, fun, caring, and fearless women I’ve ever met. I mean really- it takes a certain type of girl to do this sport!
  • Shirt making parties.
  • Themed everything! Practices, bouts, parties!
  • Laughing- constantly!
  • Sweating- constantly!
  • ruises & Rink Rash
….

…And doing it all with a team hot girls who maintain “sexy” doing a full contact athletic sport!”

Images via Wikipedia & The Chicago Tribune

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  1. I started skating for the SFV Roller derby about 3 months ago and not only is it amazing for your health and great exercise but I met a group of girls I can call family. It is an amazing sport and super exciting. Watchign the juniors kick butt is super fun as well. I wish I was that awesome at 10.

  2. Hi! I currently skate for Peninsula Roller Girls in Redwood City, CA. I can’t say enough about how roller derby has changed my life.

  3. Christina Sparkle: I’m moving to Leeds. I saw the dolls are already starting their ‘ragdoll academy’ this Sunday, but I doubt I’ll be able to make it… Are you a UK derby girl?

  4. As a former derby girl, I can say you’ve pretty much got it figured out, attitude-wise. Derby is extremely empowering. The only thing I’ve ever done more empowering was give birth to a couple of children in my living room.

    I’m about to release a roller derby fantasy novel. Interested in reading it?

    In TROLL OR DERBY, fifteen year old Roller Deb is singled out by town bullies for both her skates, and her sexual orientation. When her popular homecoming queen of a sister is kidnapped by a scuzzy drug dealer, Deb must flee the trailer park in which she’s grown up, and rescue her. Along the way, Deb becomes enmeshed in the magical realm of trolls and fairies, and the blood-thirsty version of roller derby at which these beings excel. But spending too much time among the fairies comes with a price. Will Deb choose to save her sister, with the aid of a mysterious troll? Or will she be lost to the lures of roller derby, and the blonde temptress April, forever?

    I think it will give you giggles a-plenty.

  5. I joined the Arnhem, Netherlands team a little over a year ago after watching the doc. Hell on Wheels. I can’t tell you how good it makes you feel about yourself, to be part of a team of awesome women. That feeling of accomplishment when you managed to jump over 3 eggboxes with your skates on or don’t fall over when you get blocked. I’ve sadly had to leave my wonderful team because im moving to the UK next week, but Ill tell you, I can’t wait to join the local team there.
    Its at times scary, hard and difficult to get over your fears but it makes you feel like you can take on anything when you do.. Having the support of your teammates there is the best feeling. I always hated sports because of my build/weight but in roller derby any body has a role just like in football you get short agile people, big burly blockers. Becoming a roller derby girl has really made me gain so much confidence and being part of a team is something really special.
    Derby love!

  6. These ladies are WARRIORS! I’m seriously in awe.