I’ve heard it said at least once at almost every practice.
It is quickly followed up by, “There is no sorry in roller derby.”
The truth is: there is sorry in roller derby.
For the tough façade that we all like to put up, there is a sensitive woman deep down.
The sorry naturally comes out.
It’s roller derby love.
Unfortunately, the sorry gets taken a little too far at times-the times when it’s not said.
When I was mustering up the courage to attend my first derby meeting, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As I have said before though, derby is everything and nothing that I expected.
I expected a bunch of fist pounding, man hating feminists. I half expected a woman with a whip, lashing me to go faster, hit harder, jump higher and just be tougher. That’s not what I got. Sometimes I wish it was and not just for the extra push but to beat the sensitivity out of me and everyone else.
When did derby get so personal?
We attack ourselves, and we attack each other. Sometimes out of innocence and miscommunication and sometimes out of a heightened sensitivity or just plain nastiness.
It’s what happens when a bunch of women get together and spend countless hours in each other’s company.
It takes one person to not say sorry, one question taken the wrong way, one conversation overheard and a whole team has their feelings hurt.
Wait a minute, this is roller derby, right? Aren’t we adult enough to know better?
The truth is we’re not.
For the most part I let things roll, but there are times, even if for a split second, that I over think something and get a little down. There are two things that shake me back to reality: one being the fact that I quickly remind myself that it’s roller derby (and I am a grown up). The other being a wonderful derby wife that also reminds me that it’s roller derby.
It’s roller derby. It’s competitive. It’s a hot headed, in the moment sport.
You will get annihilated by your teammate and she will probably skate off without saying sorry. She still loves you and your best response should be a high five for the awesome hit.
You will get told that you are doing something wrong. Stop! Don’t get all bent out of shape. Ask for an explanation. Ask for a demonstration. If your pride is too grand, bite your tongue and vent to your derby wife later. She’s probably going to tell you that you were wrong and you should have asked for more details in order to learn from it.
Not everyone will like you. Not everyone liked you in high school. Not everyone liked you in elementary. Some personalities just don’t fit or agree. Recognize that and be an adult.
There are people that are better than you. Learn from them. There are people you are better than. Teach them. No one is the best.
There are girls with less ability but more heart than you. They may have even worked harder than you. They deserve their day.
There are girls that are naturally better than you. They might not be as dedicated. They deserve their day too. (Sometimes you want to win-well, you always want to win.)
There is sorry in roller derby. It’s just not always in the form of verbal communication or a hug. It’s in being a part of a team.