Think you’ve got what it takes to be a part of derby? Actually, you do.
There’s a saying in the roller derby world: “Give your wife her life back. Let her join roller derby.” Roller derby, an all-women, full-contact sport on roller skates, has claimed the hearts of many females, in Okinawa and around the world. Go to a match, called a “bout”, and you’ll see why: these girls are gutsy. They whip down the track, careen around corners, push each other to get their jammer (the girl with the star on her helmet) through the pack to score points, while blocking the other team. It’s intense, strategic, but fun, too. They have funny-yet-fierce derby names like “Tashya-Over,” “The Lexicutioner,” and “Knocka Hoedown.” And, bouts often have a theme, like “Skeletons vs. Zombies,” where teammates, coaches, and even the audience dress up in related costumes, tutus, and makeup. It’s no wonder so many have caught the derby bug.
We Want You. . . to Join the Derby Family
Surprisingly, many of the women who effortlessly glide around the track hadn’t skated for years, or had never skated before derby. Everyone who joins one of the two leagues on Okinawa, the Kokeshi Roller Dolls (KRD) and the Devil Dog Derby Dames (DDDD), has to undergo beginner training, where experienced skaters teach and support newbies until they can pass the minimum skills test. From there, they’re drafted to one of the league’s teams, with whom they start practicing for upcoming bouts.
Because of the flux of families moving on and off Okinawa, both leagues are constantly recruiting, not just for players, but also for (male and female) volunteer medics, skating and non-skating officials, and sponsors. But the turnover isn’t all bad; it also means a possible influx of experienced players, and more opportunities to get involved here than elsewhere.
Making a Difference, One Bout at a Time
And that, after all, is what the sport is about. For all the bruises and bumps, the über-tough exteriors, derby really is about community. It’s having your derby sisters’ backs, on and off the track. It’s building each other up, helping mates see that they have within themselves the strength and the guts to accomplish more than they ever thought they could. And it’s about outreach—most times, the leagues put on bouts in partnership with local organizations, and all proceeds go to that organization’s cause. With that kind of positive impact in the community, why wouldn’t you get involved?