I'm Down To Derby: My Journey To Broken Bones And Best FriendsKrista Doyle

I, Krista Doyle, being of mostly sound mind and able-ish body, am about to embark upon one of the most important journeys in a young woman’s life: the journey to becoming a roller derby skater. More specifically, I want to become part of Los Angeles’ roller derby league, the LA Derby Dolls. The LA Derby Dolls is a league here in Los Angeles made up of four teams: Fight Crew, Tough Cookies, Sirens and Varsity Brawlers. You can read more about them here if you want.

When I moved to LA, one of the first things I could not wait to do was to go see the Dolls in action. I had never been to a derby bout before and when I finally got to go, I was hooked. Since then, the Doll Factory (where the bouts are held) has been one of my favorite places and I’ve even volunteered at events just because I wanted to be more involved, but was still too scared to actually start skating. Then, the last time I volunteered, I had a conversation with a skater that made me decide to get brave. She asked me if I skated, to which I responded, “Nah, I’m just a wannabe.” Then she laughed and replied, “You don’t have to be a wannabe, you know, you can just ‘be.’ Start classes. You won’t regret it.” So, here we are!

For those of you who know anything about me, you’re probably laughing at the idea of me putting on roller skates and playing anything that even resembles a contact sport (with good reason), and trust me, it won’t be an easy process. There are training classes on training classes, tryouts, more classes, more tryouts, not to mention volunteering requirements that must be met throughout the entire process.

These girls work hard, play hard, and unfortunately for my sake, hit hard. Even still, I plunge ahead willingly and enthusiastically toward the long hours and dark bruises. You may think that long hours and inevitable injuries are odd things for me to be excited about subjecting myself to, but here are just a few reasons why I can not wait to stumble my way around the world of roller derby:

1. I get to learn something new. Sure, I’m already pretty good at roller-skating. And by “pretty good,” I mean that I can stand in an upright position or move slowly in a circular motion without falling. But here’s my chance to actually learn how to play this game that I’ve been so infatuated with. To learn skating tricks and how to execute plays. To learn how to take a hit from a girl much stronger than me without vomiting all over the track. I CAN’T WAIT.

2. I get to get into shape. I am probably the unhealthiest person I know. I eat fast food almost every day, drink soda non-stop, and rarely take part in things that could ever be considered exercise. I lose my breath just riding the elevator. Training for derby will provide the excuse I need to finally take action and get a little healthier, which is great, because I would like to live past the age of 45.

3. I get to meet new people. This is probably what I’m most excited about. These girls are the coolest of the cool, the bad ass-iest of the bad ass, and they are all so different. Some are moms looking for a little release, some are college students who want to take on a new hobby, some are just really tough girls who can’t wait to kick my ass. The point is, the community within the league is so interesting and diverse. There is a place for every type of person, and I love that.

4. Whip It. Okay, I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, she’s one of ‘those’ people who is only interested in this because she saw some mainstream ‘movie’ about it.” First, calm down, maybe? Second, seriously though, how GREAT was that movie?! I am not ashamed to say that I saw it four times in theaters and still rock the soundtrack on a regular basis. And while I know that there is more to derby than what was portrayed in the movie, it is still what sparked my interest in the sport.

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  1. I don’t know how long ago you posted this, but I wanted to know if perhaps you could give an update? I’m interested in giving roller derby a go but unfortunately don’t know anyone personally who’s tried it before. Basically, would you recommend it? If so, why in particular? Sorry to be a bother and would love it if you could get back to me. Thank you!

  2. What is the FB name for skaters over 40? Sounds interesting and helpful.

  3. Tricki Minaj is an awesome name. If you would like some help with the healthy eating aspect, I can totally assist you, and connect you with an amazing (mostly flat-track) derby skater, who just HAPPENED to be in Whip-It. :D

  4. Krista, I’m in the same boat however I’m an old girl that somehow did make it past the ripe old age of 45 even with all of those mentioned habits we won’t mention. I’m 55 and am a newbie trying out for the ICT Roller Girls in Wichita Kansas. What gets me is not only the diverse group of girls but the comradeship of the seasoned skaters and they are all rooting and encouraging us newbies. This is the bomb and I’m so glad I decided to at least try but wish I could have started when I was your age. My friends and family already know I’m crazy so I’m giving it my all. Go Girl and the best of luck to you!

    • ICT is an awesome league! I might see you in July. :) And one of the ladies I’m currently skating with is 56, plus there is a Facebook group just for skaters over 40!

  5. TRICKI!!! love that name. Can’t wait to hear all about your journey!

  6. Best of luck! I play flat track in Dublin and it completely changed my life, you won’t regret starting (and neither will your butt)! (:

  7. Tricki Minaj, pure Krista.

    Furthermore, get it girl!

  8. I need someone to watch you during your first derby and live tweet the whole thing. I’m serious. I mean, or video it! Either way I NEED DETAILS OF EVERY MOMENT OF THAT FIRST LADYSKIN ON LADYSKIN CONTACT.

  9. My city actually has TWO roller derby leagues, and I don’t go to games nearly as often as I would like to. One of the leagues actually offers a rec-league version for weenies like myself, and I’m thinking this summer I’m going to go for it!

  10. I’m SO excited for you. I decided to tryout for Minnesota RollerGirls two summers ago and it was the best decision of my life. I failed tryouts miserably but I was so proud of myself for going through with it. And now I’ve been on the ref crew since and I completely love it. You are going to get your ass kicked but you’ll learn so much about yourself and get to know all kinds of amazing people, just like you said.

    Keep turning on turning left!