I know it’s cliche and we’ve all heard it a thousand times now (unless of course you are new to roller derby) but it is true, roller derby changed my life. I have recently made the move to London, a decision that was in no way an easy one. I have spent the last five years in Leicester, after moving there for university and sort of finding myself stuck. I never planned to stay for as long as I did, I always expected to move on straight after finishing university, but that wasn’t the case in the end. So having made the decision to move, I found myself in one of those moments where life is changing, a complete alteration and what do we find ourselves doing in these scenarios, we look back to what got us here (well I do anyway). So how did I get here?
Well it all stems from roller derby.
In April or early may of 2010, I watched this film (yep we’ve all heard of it) ‘whip it’. I watched in astonishment as this seemingly made up sport in my eyes, inspired, gripped and motivated me for a change in my sporting endeavours. I immediately on finishing watching the film I googled roller derby and to my great surprise found out it was in fact a real sport, not only that it was a real sport played here in England. The first team I came across was LRG, their pink and black punk inspired logo flashed up on the screen and I new I needed to go and find out more about this sport. For most it’s the sub cultured side of the sport that often draws interest, the quirky crowd of alternative women, rolling around with crazy names and dare I say it fishnets. But this side if I’m honest although it drew me to certain extent, scared the crap out of me. Being from a sporting background all my life, I didn’t feel I fitted in with this cultured crowd. Instead for me it was the amazing skill of mixing a team sport with roller skating and generally it was the speed aspect, anything that makes you go faster is good in my books. So through further google searches I finally found my closest league. I’m sure you can imagine my excitement, not only was this sport real, it s in the city I was in.
At that time of revelation, I was living in a student house of which our lease was just a bout up, housemates were moving on and I was unemployed (a joyous time). I was just about given up on Leicester, I thought it was time to move on. Then all of a sudden, as often happens in life, a curve ball. This crazy new sport, a new team and new group of friends to pull me back to the city I’d given up on. The Dolly Rockit Rollers, the most amazing team I have ever had the joy to play for.
As I have often said, I’ve grown up in sport played for many teams and some great ones at that. But I have never felt as at home as I did with the Dolly’s. They are such a special (and i don’t just mean that in a chest slap kind of way) group of people and I personally think that they are the GREATEST roller derby league around. Bold statement, I know but I stand by it. Because by that I am not referring to skill or rankings or how many games won. I am referring to the league as a whole, how it works, runs and the people who are evolved in it. DRR may not win every game in terms of score, but they win every game as a team, because they pull together and they love every second. You can’t take the fun out of a Dolly’s game. They will be cheering the loudest dancing on the jam line, side lines, in the box. In attendance at every after party, cheering on their other teams, B team, A team, a couple of players in a mixed game. The comrade between the league as whole, not just the A team but right down to the newbies is fantastic. I truly believe that They have got the balance between training hard, having fun and organisation (because that is what makes a league great, organisation) pretty close to spot on.
So you can see why, the decision to move to London would now be a seriously difficult one. Leaving the Dolly’s has been like leaving your friends and family when you go to university, on the one hand it’s this new exciting thing that’s going to change your life for the better. On the other hand you don’t want to leave those that mean so much to you and those comforts that they have created.
To a new league, a new set of faces and friends to made. A new family they will become. Well LRG have got very big shoes to fill!
I am sure the skaters will be great I have already started to make friends. However I guess my experience with the Dolly’s will never quite be matched as my place in the league will be such a different one within any other. And the way in which the league is run will not be the same, every league has its own ways. But if I have learnt anything from my time with the Dolly Rockit Rollers, it’s that organisation is at the heart of a great roller derby team, it’s the glue that holds it all together and although it’s what tends to drive us mad, the team just can’t survive without it.
Roller derby changed my life once, it made me stay in Leicester. Let’s see what it can do now, hello London 🙂