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.
Snarky, irreverent, occasionally sentimental, viewing the world with head cocked and one eyebrow up. Navy wife (retired), mom to two bigguys, full-time RV traveler with husband. Shit breaks and we make mistakes. Join me anyway?
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