I was excited to be a Circle City Derby Girl for the day. When our supervising producer Raven Taylor called to ask if I was ready to strap on some skates and help the roller girls prepare for the next bout in the CCDG league’s seventh season, I answered with a resounding “Yes! That’s me. I want that!”
Many people might have a questionable mental image of roller derby based on the televised cheesefest of the 1960s and 70s, but in spite of the skaters’ whimsiical costumes and provocative nicknames, modern-day derby is a serious sport. According to the CCDG’s website, “It’s definitely not just fighting on wheels—there are rules and rigor along with the fishnets.”
An international phenomenon with hundreds of leagues forming all around the world, most skate clubs are amateur, all-girl operations with members who are interested in reaching out to build a strong networks of women working and playing together in their local communities.
Walking into the practice venue on the east side of Indianapolis was surreal. There was a sort of electricity in the air, an awesome vibration of power, grit, and camaraderie. Even though they spend a considerable amount of time crashing into one another, derby girls are committed to building relationships with their teammates and their communities. These girls were a team. A team of moms, doctors, business professionals, students and they all shared a common bond: a passion for this sport and for building each other up even as they knocked each other down.
There are naysayers who lament the decline of competitive sports, saying that may community leagues are turning into venues of all-inclusive “play” time where everyone gets a trophy. While Circle City Derby girls don’t turn anyone interested in the sport away, they do work hard to demonstrate the commitment necessary to compete at the league level. New members must complete safety clinics and technique workshops, practice four times a week, and compete with their fellow league members to be chosen for the play roster before each bout.
I don’t know if I’m up for that, but the CCDG skaters were all very open to invite me into their practice and tell me all about the derby. I got to learn the rules and the history of the sport and how it has re-invented itself time and again. From its first obscure days as a Depression-era novelty act, derby was transformed into a counter-cultural movement in the 1960s and 70s before being reconceived as an internationally-recognized sport phenomenon today.
I was especially impressed by the mix of agression and heart. The CCDG skaters made it clear that all of their competitions called “bouts” have a laid-back and family-centeric vibe. In addition to multiple matches, they also have food, live music, a variety of adult beverages, and an interactive half-time show for kids.
Tickets are just $10 in advance or $12 at the door. Not a bad deal to watch these women give it their all while grabbing a few brewskis!
I am a big advocate for the promotion of girl power, and these roller girls radiate strength both physical and mental. They are veritable role models for our young girls. #skatepower became my mantra of the day.
If you missed the segment on IN the Loop about the Circle City Derby Girls check out the video below. And don’t forget. Watch me, Jade, every Sunday night at 11:30 on WISH-TV 8. Keeping you IN the Loop of everything that is Indianapolis.