Roller Derby as a Learning Ground for All

Children of all ages can be found enjoying today’s roller derby tournaments. Across the country, from Maine to California, family entertainment is harder and harder to find.


When a family wants to spend quality time together, enjoying the entertainment styling of a troupe of qualified and enthusiastic sports people, they can find just the right mix of violence, and general sporting enthusiasm at the roller derby.

While some leagues, and indeed some locations, are more adult oriented in their showmanship, it isn’t difficult to find leagues that are very child friendly. After all, as primarily a female sport, the roller derby has to be able to accommodate women who must bring their children with them to the derby venue.

Those kids who grow up on the roller derby circuit may be upset that they have to say goodbye to friends, schools and plans, but when they look back in later life on the opportunities for travel, expanding their vocabulary and understanding human motivation better cannot be learned in school.

So many of our transactions in modern life are just that – transactions. The relationships between humans that foster real learning and retention are not the same quality or quantity that they used to be.

When children are proven to learn more and retain it longer if they experience something outside of the classroom environment, it can seem like an upward battle to put together an approach to work and relationship that works, and will last.

The roller derby is intensely honest, with the conversation happening not just in the moment of the tournament, out loud, but also in the way people give cues to one another through dress and other factors.

How my love for the sport evolved as years passed

Participating in the derby, be it as a player, a ref, or a fan, is a great opportunity to make new friends, learn a few skills and begin to understand the deeper strategic meanings in derby life.

Certainly, people of any age, any background and any socioeconomic status will know that the derby is low-cost, high energy fun. People who haven’t been a part of the roller derby economy or social niche, however, might not understand what it is that keeps people coming back.

After seeing their first tournament, many people are drawn to the sport, and find it enjoyable to watch, but simply don’t get why some of us are willing to dedicate so much time and energy to the sport.

When I was a very young man, roller derby was not a popular sport. It wasn’t until roller derby went through its first renaissance in the US in the 1970s that I was introduced to it as a way to meet people. Being somewhat shy and solitary, I had a small circle of friends, and one of the people I was close to was an active participant in the roller derby of the day.

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She went by the derby name Trojan Herse, and her best skills were in the area of team leadership. Alas, her opportunity to rise to the top of her team and make sure her mates succeeded in destroying their opposition was cut tragically short when she suffered a serious spinal injury during her 12th tournament.

Even when this happened to someone close to me, I was unsure why there would be an impact of loss to the elimination of the roller derby from her life. Little did I know what was around the corner for me.

How Roller Derby Changed My Life

Before I found roller derby, it would be easy to say that I had a good life. I did, by many measures.

The ridiculous hours I worked at my job, helping people with their choice hmm, example with best vacuum sealer for fish or another good kitchen appliances, allowed me to put money aside while providing a safe and stable home for my three kids, two cats and stay at home husband. The schools my children went to were good, and the opportunities for advancement in my job were there. It was the whole package. But something was missing.

The day I discovered the derby, I also discovered what my life had been missing for years. It wasn’t violence, although there was certainly some appeal in being able to live life openly and honestly. Especially when that level of openness involves some sanctioned derby mayhem.


What really fascinated me as I watched the first tournament I’d ever seen unfold was the sense that these women, as hard as they were trying to win, as much as they were emotionally and physically available to beat the living snot out of the opposing team, were a community. They were together in one pursuit, and that pursuit was the derby.

Women today have few opportunities to really connect with this around them on a fundamental level. Seeking out the church functions, which can be fraught, and the school meetings, which are undoubtedly designed to cure insomnia, most women tune other women out as background noise when they are navigating their lives.