A lot of people attending their first roller derby practice are a little intimidated. Let’s face it, you can take any mild-mannered man or woman and add skates and they’re 4″ taller. Add all our protective gear and watch us slam into each other, and it’s scary! But derby people are really nice and helpful. Once you’re on skates, you might not feel intimidating, but you’re just as fierce as anyone on the track. What you need now is to get some answers to all your questions. Here are the most common questions we hear about joining.
How much does it cost?
There are a number of expenses with derby. Some of those expenses may increase the more involved you become.
To be a skating member of Southshire Roller Derby, dues are $40 a month. There is no “long term contract”. You may join at any time we are taking in new skaters (we call them “Fresh Meat”) or if you have already completed skills assessment elsewhere, we will accept a transfer application. You may quit at any time.
We have our business liability policy through the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, also known as WFTDA. Yes, men, you can get your insurance there too.
All skaters are required to purchase a WFTDA policy, $65 a year, to participate in our practices. While the WFTDA policy does offer some very minimal supplementary health and injury coverage for the skater, its primary purpose is to protect our non-profit league and members from liability for things that might happen to other people or property damage they may cause. We require our skaters to carry their own health insurance policy to participate with our league. Let’s face it, it’s derby. Injuries happen.
Gear has a cost to it as well. Most beginner skate and protective gear packages run between $250 – $400 for new equipment depending on how much you want to invest. As roller derby popularity has increased, used gear is available, although we recommend you purchase new protective gear. Used protective gear has usually lost some or all of its ability to protect properly. A little more money at the onset means you may not need to upgrade gear as your skills exceed your equipment. Minimum equipment requirements include:
- quad roller skates (which are made up of boots, plates, wheels, bearings, toe stops, laces and sometimes toe guards)
- knee and elbow pads
- wrist guards
- multiple impact helmet (usually hockey or skateboard)
- mouth guard
Optional protective gear may include:
- a cup (for male skaters)
- padded shorts/tailbone protectors
- shin guards
- face shield
- hard shell bras
- padded rib protection
- knee gaskets/braces/support
- ankle braces/pads/support
There may also a significant amount of travel involved in both learning and competing. Roller derby is a pretty complicated game and one of the best ways to learn strategy and game play is to attend live roller derby events and volunteer to assist with officiating and production. Travel throughout the northeast is not uncommon. Most beginning leagues strive to compete within driving distance, but more advanced leagues invest in national and international competition. Travel costs might include gasoline, automobile maintenance/repair, hotels, meals, tickets, and training costs.
There is no requirement with Southshire Roller Derby to travel or invest in the highest quality skates. There is room for a skater who wants to get in better shape, learn a fun game, and practice regularly for fitness and camaraderie. There is also room for select skaters to develop high levels of competition regionally and beyond.
What is training like?
As we grow, Southshire Roller Derby plans to expand its training schedule to accommodate the needs of a mixed group of skaters. Regardless of how many practices we have, we will design two practices for any given skill level every week. Practices are usually 2 hours a week, but may be longer as you advance. Your particular skill practices will always be on the same day of the week and time of day. We strongly advise our members to maintain their fitness through other athletic means beyond practice. Many skaters enjoy cross training with other sports, yoga, swimming, weight training, and jogging. We hope, with our new space, to offer some “open skates” for members which will not have regimented training, but time and space to work on things at your own pace.
People who have not skated in some time will find muscles they didn’t know they had, even if they are active in other sports. As skating requires a significant amount of balance, roller derby training is particularly intense for your core, but it also works your legs, and upper body strength.
Once skaters have completed minimum skills, they will progress to training that involve contact and learning to incorporate skating skills into the sport of roller derby. Once our league clears your contact skills for “scrimmage eligibility” you’d be eligible to visit other regional leagues for practices and open scrimmages.
Wear to derby practice what you would wear to work out in the gym. Depending on your propensity to fall a lot, you might want to wear some sturdier shorts, at least early on, if you don’t wear padded shorts.
You will move a lot both skating and playing derby and the temperature in our practice space will vary with the season, so dress appropriately. Regardless of whether the space is warm or cold, materials that manage sweat are often experienced skaters’ favorites. While you might have seen people play derby in fishnets, the modern roller derby skater dresses for sport and safety first.
Will I get hurt?
Probably. To begin with, anyone who engages in physical activity runs a risk of injury. Add to that the fact that derby is full contact, and yes, you’re going to have bumps and bruises. Your training is an important part of injury prevention, as is the investment in quality protective gear. Even so, there is still risk of torn ligaments, broken bones, and other injuries. This is why we require our skaters to carry health insurance and a First Aid certified person at every practice. Along with the risk of injury there’s the benefit of being stronger and healthier for the rest of your life – all part of playing an active team sport.
Do I need to tryout?
No. As a new league in an area that has not had roller derby before, we currently have open enrollment and will train people to skate. Since the mission of Southshire Roller Derby is to improve the well being of people in the area through training, we intend to always provide some level of beginner (know in derby terms as Fresh Meat) training, but possibly not always have open enrollment for membership.
But only women get to play, right?
No. At Southshire Roller Derby we are training men and women for competition. While women’s roller derby is more prevalent in the media and there are more leagues and teams for women, there are a growing number of men playing derby around the world. The closest competing team is the Capital District Trauma Authority in Albany, NY, but there is also Vermont Men’s Roller Derby which practices in the northern part of the state.
We train men and women together. One of the great sayings in roller derby is that there is a role for anyone, no matter their shape or size. As we train skaters to the point of forming teams and competing, except for exhibition bouts and some scrimmages, men and women generally compete separately. Some times our teams will hold separate practices.
While both men and women may compete and train for competition, both men and women may also train to be on-skates officials. Our training staff has hundreds of bouts of experience in on and off skates officiating. For those who want to train for amazing skate skills and want the challenge of the game without all the hitting, officiating is a great path that still challenges your body and mind. Officials are some times have to avoid or collide with skaters so there’s always a risk of some contact, but no one intentionally sternum blocks an official.
Are there other time commitments outside of practice and bouts?
Yes. Once you become a full member of Southshire Roller Derby, you will be expected to provide some volunteer skills and/or hours to the league to keep us operational. Depending our our league’s financial and production needs, we may or may not need to conduct fundraising – something all members will participate in. Some of the things that need to get done that members will help with include:
- Soliciting sponsorship
- Practice space maintenance
- Public relations
- Coaching & Training
- Business organization
- Record keeping
- Social Networking
- Volunteering for other leagues
Once you have completed your minimum skills and paid your dues for 6 consecutive months, you are eligible to become a voting member of Southshire Roller Derby Inc. Maintaining membership, non-voting members, and exceptions are covered in our bylaws which are available to all dues paying skaters.
Email us at SouthshireRollerDerby@gmail.com if you want to clarify anything here or find out about when our next new skater intake is.