Meet the awesome UK-based women’s roller derby league London Rockin’ Rollers, who wants to introduce you to the most badass sport in the world.
To put it simply, roller derby is a fast-paced full-contact sport in which two teams of five skaters compete to score points by overtaking each other on a flat track. Inevitably there are falls, bruises, and the occasional broken bone. Yet roller derby keeps getting more popular and is becoming one of the fastest growing sport in the world.
And it’s not hard to see why. Roller derby is unique in that it is women-led sport and an inclusive sport for people from all backgrounds, ages, shapes, and sizes. Even if you’ve never skated before in your life, you can still join a team to learn the ropes. The sport teaches you to be assertive and it is a physically demanding sport that requires you to use every part of your body. For many women, the friendships they’ve developed are the best part of the sport.
The first UK team was established in 2006 and since then roller derby has taken off in the region.
As one of the oldest leagues in Europe, the London Rockin’ Rollers have rolled with punches since 2007, playing the UK’s first Interleague scrimmage with the Birmingham Blitz Dames and Europe’s first Interleague bout against Stuttgart Valley Roller Girlz. Based in London, the roller derby league boasts of two travel teams, three intraleague home teams, a recreational league and regular Fresh Meat programmes.
We asked London Rockin’ Roller skaters about the scene in Europe and why people should take up their sport.
TT: What is like to be a London Rockin’ Roller? What are your teams like?
LRR is one big family. Skaters, NSOs (non-skating officials) and referees all contribute to the league, in skating for it, running and organising it, it is made by its members for its members. There is a place for everyone at LRR, it is fun and always rewarding. We care about everyone’s development as a skater but are also there for each other whenever needed, athletic or personal.
TT: Why roller derby? What’s great about the sport?
Roller derby is unique in that it is a women-led sport, and is embracive and inclusive of skaters, officials, and referees from all types of backgrounds. Men’s leagues are now in existence and there is also a male roller derby world cup, however, women are at the forefront of the sport, something that is rarely seen in the sporting world. Besides the empowering and community-based elements of the sport, roller derby is also incredibly healthy and athletic. It requires an incredible sense of balance, majorly strength builds due to the muscles groups being worked continuously through various techniques, It is highly intensive, and keeps you mentally on your toes as it is a highly strategic game.
TT: For those who have no idea what roller derby is about, how would you describe the sport?
The national UK roller derby association puts it best:
“Roller derby is a full-contact sport played on quad roller skates, by players skating around an elliptical track. The game consists of a series of two-minute countdown jams.
At the start of each jam, each team sends five players onto the track: one Jammer (point scorer), three blockers (defensive/offensive players) and one Pivot (a special kind of blocker). The players are identified by their helmet covers – a stripe for the pivots and two stars for the Jammers. The pivots and blockers form a pack at the start line and the two Jammers line up on or behind the Jammer line. The Jammers’ aim is to make it through the pack of skaters and skate a full lap to enter the pack again. Once they re-enter the pack, they score a point for each opposing skater they pass legally.
Now for the fun bit: the skaters in the pack are doing their utmost to stop the opposing Jammer passing them and scoring points, while at the same time trying to help their own Jammer to pass opposing players. They do this by landing heavy shoulder or hip checks on opposing players, shoving them out of the way or knocking them to the ground. Skaters may use specifics parts of their body to engage opponents, and skaters may only target their engagements to specific parts of their opponents’ bodies. Illegal hits result in time served in the penalty box, legal hits often result in skaters flying off the track and landing in the crowd!
The game is fast and furious and full of adrenaline – once you see it you’ll be hooked.”
Find out more at http://ukrda.org.uk/roller-derby/
TT: What is the roller derby scene like in UK and Europe? What are the good teams and the rising stars?
Roller derby is one of the world’s fastest growing sports, and the UK and Europe are certainly highlighting that. The UK currently has more than 60 roller derby leagues (not far behind the 70+ female football clubs!) and Europe has over 800. Teams such as London Brawling and Rainy City and 4 other European teams are only 6 out of 60 teams who are playing in the WFTDA championships this year. Our rising star picks are our very own Jack Attack and Jessica Rammit, who have recently qualified to play for Team England in the world championships, we are beyond proud of them both, come on Jack and Jess!
TT: If I am a beginner and I want to find out what the sport is all about, how do I find a team to join?
If you are in London, you can start by following us on Facebook where we share all of our upcoming recruitment days! If you live outside of London, the UK, or anywhere really, the best way to check is to first google your nearby leagues and then contact through their social media saying that you would like to join their team, most leagues are quite easy to start with, others of a higher level may require you to try out, so get some skates and start practicing! There are a ton of useful roller derby starter videos on Youtube that you can learn from solo!
TT: Best thing about being a London Rockin Roller?
The best thing about being a London Rockin Roller is feeling that you are constantly growing as a skater, improving your knowledge of the sport and rules, growing stronger, and the consistent support that is provided. Favourite moments are the feeling of it all paying off on game day when all of the effort and hard work pays off, and the team comes together to play a great game.
TT: What are the challenges you face in the sport?
When you feel that you are plateauing. In all sports, athletes reach a stage where they don’t worsen or improve for a little while which is a natural stage but can feel frustrating, moving past that back to the improvement stage is definitely a favourite moment, however!
TT: What is the future of roller derby in UK and Europe?
Roller derby is increasingly and quickly gaining far more attention from mainstream media sources and leagues in the UK are popping up all over. With the UK coming close to winning last year’s championships and Europe now amassing over 800 leagues, we hope it won’t be long before roller derby appears on national television!
There are even junior leagues growing all over the world, inspiring a whole new younger generation of girls and boys, teaching that girls can be strong, athletic and can pave the way in the sporting world. You only need to look online to read the inspirational stories from young girls who feel that roller derby has given them invaluable confidence and belief in themselves.