I have a not-so-secret obsession with roller derby. If you have been living under a rock for the past decade dedicating your life to your children for the past several years, you may not know that roller derby is (as defined by Wikipedia) “an American-invented contact sport —and historically, a form of sports entertainment— based on formation roller skating around an oval track, with points scored as two individual players (designated as “jammers”) lap members of their opposing teams whilst both teams play offense and defense simultaneously.” Austin has played a large role in the resurgence of the sport both across the country and around the world.
As someone who has never been accused of being a “girly girl”, I’ve played soccer most of my life and considered joining the high school football team, so roller derby isn’t too much of a stretch. I love the idea of an all-women’s sports league, comparing bruises and showing a different side of myself to my son.
I first found out about the Austin roller derby scene when I watched the show Rollergirls on A&E. I later learned there are actually two roller derby leagues in Austin: the Texas Rollergirls, who belong to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Assocation, and the Lone Star Rollergirls, one of the few leagues in the country to skate on a banked track. I went to a few bouts when I was pregnant, and each time I left, I wanted to try out. I recently watched Hell on Wheels from Netflix, which is an interesting documentary which recounts how both leagues formed in Austin. Hell on Wheels and Whip It, the movie released in 2009 starring Ellen Page and directed by Drew Barrymore, are both definitely fun to watch if you are as intrigued by the sport as I am.
Two of my former soccer teammates joined the Rec-n-Rollerderby league, a spinoff of the Texas Rollergirls, and are now skating in the “competitive” league. Since becoming a mom, I learned that there are actually a lot of moms in the Rec-n-Rollerderby. Almost half of the 80-skater league is moms, in fact! Many of the skaters do what my friends did — move on from the Rec league to the competitive league — but some stick around.
Next week, I’ll be talking to some of the mamas who skate for the Rec league and some who have moved onto the competitive league. Do you have any questions for these roller derby mamas? Have you considered joining? What is keeping you from participating, if you are on the fence like me?
Feel free to leave your question in the comments for the roller derby mamas and I’ll try to get them answered for next week’s article!
Written by: Nicole Basham