The entire Bound team had the privilege of attending a roller derby bout on February 4, 2012 to cheer on our local team and the subject of this article, The Gold Coast Derby Grrls
Roller Derby is a contact sport played by two teams of five members roller skating in the same direction around a track. The teams skate a series of short match-ups called "jams" in which both teams designate a Jammer who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. Each team's goal is to try to help their Jammer get ahead of the other team while simultaneously attempting to stop the Jammer of the opposing team. This involves a lot of pushing, knocking over, and falling- in essence they beat the crap out of each other and in the process have fun doing it!
Another interesting twist to this sport is that most players skate under a pseudonym, also called "derby name" or "skater name". The player has two choices, pick their own name or have the team assign a name to them. The derby name becomes each player's alter egos and they are so comfortable with it that you often see them refer to each other in conversation using only their derby names. The names are usually examples of sexy word play, sarcasm, allusions to pop culture, or double entendres. There is even an international roster where each name is registered in order to ensure novelty and uniqueness of the alias before officially using it.
These women spend five days a week practicing together. They sustain injuries that are not for the faint of heart. They proudly show off their bruises, scars and broken bones because they were earned. There is no doubt that they are some tough bitches, but like every beautiful woman, they also have a soft side. The team’s spiritual mascot is the Butterfly. They adopted it after fans started noticing that the players would gesture to each other the symbol with their hands for the butterfly before a game. For them it meant to let go, let go of their troubles and skate their hearts out. On bout nights they go into that rink with two things in mind- skating hard and keeping each other safe.
I can write about all the team’s stats but you can find that out HERE. I can also write about each individual players delicious wit and sexy humor, but you can read that in their bios HERE. Instead I want to write about what made me fall in love with the team that night... their heart.
As is customary after every bout, the team has an after party and the fans are invited. We arrived to find all the players, still in uniform, partying with the team they had just played against. The bar was packed with players and fans alike, dancing together, sharing a laugh, and, of course, a drink or two. Every team player I spoke to had the same thing to say.
"We are all here for each other, like a family. Someone needs to move, we help. Someone has a problem, we pitch in," Carnivorous Licks explained to me as she introduced me to the players.
A bit taken aback by how easily they were all partying with the team that they just played against, I asked if there was any animosity amongst the teams. G.I. Moe explained to me that it wasn't just their team that was like a family, it was all of the Derby Teams across the U.S. and abroad.
"Wherever we travel to, we always have a place to stay because players from other teams open their homes to us. We've hosted a few girls from other Derby teams in our homes as well," G.I Moe explained with a satisfied smile on her face.
What really is a family? All throughout human history, families represented strength. The larger the family was, the likelier they were to survive. They hunted together, worked in unison, and took care of each other when one fell ill. In modern day society, the structure of a family has evolved significantly, with more emphasis placed on the emotional support one receives from those who love you the most. There has been a lot of talk in recent years of what truly makes a family. Some would argue that the correct interpretation of a family is a husband, wife and children. I happen to disagree. I believe a true family is that group of people who loves you unconditionally, who believes in you when no one else does, who helps you heal when you are hurt, and laugh's alongside you when you are happy. That is part of the beautiful art of being human. With mutual trust, that is only earned through sharing blood, sweat, and tears together, these ladies have found a support system in each other that is as old as time itself. A support system that is so rare many people spend their whole lives searching for it. I, for one, felt lucky to spend an evening with the Gold Coast Derby Grrls.
If you'd like to be a part of the Gold Coast Derby Grrls, you are in luck because they are always looking for fresh meat. Newcomers are welcomed every Friday at the Skatezone in Wellington between 8:30 pm-10:30 pm and Sunday at Kabooms in Davie between 9 am -11 am.