7 July

Should you go legit in roller derby?

Derby names are part of our sport, right? They can be really clever, creative and just damn cool. They are part of our history, our culture and give skaters who appreciate their privacy an alter ego to channel.

Me sporting a lovely boutfit.  © China Blade 2012

Me sporting a lovely boutfit and full make up.
© China Blade 2012

But what about the future of our sport? Is it our derby names and boutfits that stop us moving in to the mainstream or is there more going on?

There are so many complex issues and so many ideas about where the sport should be going that I wouldn’t dream of trying to pull it all apart and analyse in one blog post. But it is worth saying that in modern roller derby, a lot of people have given their time, their money and their effort to get roller derby to where it is that understandably, they want to enjoy the legitimacy that comes with sponsorship and seeing it on TV in local and national sports news. Unless your derby name is rude or offensive, I really can’t see how derby names have a negative impact on the sport’s legitimacy.

Today, there are 259 WFTDA member leagues and 98 apprentice leagues worldwide, so this figure doesn’t even include newer leagues or those who haven’t affiliated themselves with the WFTDA. In 13 years, we’ve seen the sport explode to become something amazing, but when it comes to roller derby, there is still a lot to educate people about, here is some of the stuff I’ve heard people say/ask about roller derby that has made me think “EH?!”

  • “Where is the ball?”
  • “It’s like rugby on roller skates”
  • “It’s not like it’s a real sport.”
  • “Can you punch/elbow/trip people?”
  • “Is it staged like wrestling?”

My answer is usually, come and see our next bout.

Back to the original question… should you go legit?

If it’s good enough for Kristen Lee and Stefanie Mainey then that’s good enough for me! In all seriousness though, I don’t think the pressure is as strong any more to choose a name because being a derby girl is more about athleticism, hard work and immersing yourself in a team of wonderful people who support each other.

Why am I going legit? Truthfully, I never felt any affection for my derby name (Kill’Her Instinct) but everyone else had a derby name so naturally, I wanted one too. On the other hand, my number (#F3C0) amuses me and I don’t want to lose it. I also wanted to use my new married name for more than banking and taking my bunny to the vet.

Are you thinking of going legit? What is stopping you? Why is your derby identity important to you? Tell us what you think and comment below.

Written by the future Louisa Ellins