Surely it’s no secret by now that full-time RV living allows us to live by our name: Own Less, Do More. And one really cool thing we got to do recently, while staying at a campground near our former hometown of Norfolk, VA, was attend a friend’s roller derby game — a first for us.
Now before I get too far into this, you need to know right from the first whistle that I am not a sports fan. I rarely know which -ball season it is, I don’t understand team loyalty because the team changes every year, and I really really don’t care about your fantasy league.
But ya know what? Watching roller derby was a blast, y’all!
My friend, Heather, who goes by Sugar Rush when skating as #711 with Mid Atlantic Roller Derby, is a woman of many talents. In no particular order: hair stylist, mermaid, craft business owner, pinup girl, step mom, and former U.S. Marine.
So when I showed up to have her give my hair a quick trim, and she asked if I wanted a couple of tickets to her game the following week, I could not say yes fast enough.
Heather had dressed up as a derby girl for Halloween one year, and her fancy became an obsession, which then turned into a passion, after a player named Tenacious V invited her to a team practice. Heather became a real live derby girl in November of 2015.
When Tim and I arrived at the arena for the game, I expected to see lots of torn fishnet stockings, booty shorts, tattoos, and wild hair styles. And I was right. Lots. Those women did not disappoint.
What I did not expect was the family friendly atmosphere, the pre-game national anthem, the camaraderie and support — not just amongst teammates but even between the two teams — and the philanthropic aspect of the game. A portion of that night’s proceeds benefitted the Alzheimer’s Association.
What I saw was a commitment to sport, safety, and community, while also getting to take in a really good show. The players even signed autographs for some of the youngest fans after the game!
A simplified description of play, summarized from my program (for the real deal, go here):
- Each team sends a pack of 5 players to the track: 4 blockers and 1 jammer.
- Each jammer is identified by the star on her helmet, and jammers are the only players who can score points.
- Jammers score points by passing opposing skaters by the hips, and the first jammer to break through the pack legally is called the lead jammer.
- Only the lead jammer can call off the jam before the 2-minute duration is up, which she does by tapping her hips repeatedly, making the moves nice and big so the referees will notice.
- By calling the jam off early, the lead jammer prevents the opposing team from scoring. (There’s a brief video explanation here, and you can see a real live jammer “call it off” at about the 1:17 mark.)
Could I follow all the action? No. It confused the heck out of my poor sports-challenged brain. But “Call it off” is my new favorite gesture, and I wish I’d had it in my parenting arsenal when our boys were young.
I guess I could now use it in the RV when Tim is making me crazy. Right?
Heather admitted to a rookie mistake involving this very gesture. “I have called off the jam not realizing I was not the lead. Oops!”
My favorite part was reading the roster of skaters’ team names, which are really terribly creative. A few that made me LOL: Brooklyn DeckHer, Slayboy Bunny, Larraine of Terror, Matilda the Hun, and Zombie ApocaLyzz.
Would I go to see roller derby again? Absolutely! And I encourage you to Google “roller derby near me” to find out where and when you can take in a game too. You might just find a new obsession.
As for why Heather stays with it, “The biggest reason is that I don’t just want to say ‘I did roller derby,’ I want to remember that I gave it my all. We support wonderful charitable organizations, and I have met so many amazing people, I cannot even describe the support and friendships that have developed with this sport.”
Author’s note: A version of this post appears at Heartland RVs. It is printed here with permission.