For many, the sport of Roller Derby is a total mystery. Many only know it as a rough-and-tumble sport on skates where players wear colorful costumes and go by crazy nicknames, but there’s much more to Derby than the known stereotypes.
Current freshman Eilidh Ferries-Rowe has been skating Derby for five years, but she admits that when she first stepped onto the track she’d only worn skates one other time in her life and had no idea how to skate. Eilidh worked hard and soon enough became one of the star blockers for her team, making memories and collecting plenty of bruises along the way. We talked with Eilidh about her time as a Roller Derby player and what it takes to excel in a sport few know anything about.
How long have you been skating roller derby and did you have any experience when you first started?
I have been skating for five years, and I had no idea how to do anything on skates when I started. When I started I had only put skates on once in my life and was a “wall clinger” (someone who hangs on to the wall).
For people that don’t know, explain a game (bout) of roller derby and how you win.
There are two halves of the bout. There is a pack made up of four players from two teams. There are two jammers, who are the people who score points. The jammers go around the track and try and break through the pack to score points. The jammer who breaks out first is announced as lead and can call off the jam (two-minutes segments of point scoring). I play offense meaning if my jammer is stuck I help them get out of the pack (which usually consists of hitting the other team out).
How often does your team practice and how often are games/tournaments?
We practice on Wednesdays for an hour and a half and Fridays for two hours. There are optional Sunday practices, which players can go to and work on any skill they want to work on. It just depends on the season. We usually have one tournament (where we usually play three games), but there could be more. We usually have about six bouts a season. We also have scrimmages once every month.
What is your favorite part of participating in roller derby?
My favorite part is hitting people and hanging out with my team. The team is like my second family.
Many know that roller derby is a very physical sport. Tell us a bit about the physicality, and your most notable injuries.
You are always working with the team, whether it is hitting them as hard as you can or stopping another teammate. We are also always working on our walls (different configurations to create barriers for the other team’s jammer to stop them from getting through). Roller derby is not an individual sport, so you are constantly helping or being helped.
The two major injuries I have had were a week-long concussion and an almost broken ankle where I was on crutches for three weeks and out for two months.
Tell us a favorite memory from your time skating derby.
My favorite three memories were when I got the most valuable blocker because I was the best, and when we were in Iowa for a tournament. Even though we lost our two best players, I still threw some great hits and got people called on penalties, and we beat a team nine ranks above us by 207 points.
How can people interested in roller derby get involved?
Email me at email@example.com.