Shelli DeRobertis 2 p.m., July 30
- Community Blog
- San Diego Roller Derby (How It all began for me)
Cultural Experience - San Diego Roller Dery
I was working in the Gaslamp District in San Diego when a group of girls on roller skates approached me; They were handing out fliers for a debut derby bout for the B-team of San Diego Roller Derby, (SDRD), The Rockettes. On the flier was a note stating that they were hiring referees and announcers. Thinking that it would be like the old Roller Derby antics that I had watched as a kid; I decided that I wanted to apply. I was told by Lady Diesel who was the head referee that I should come to the bout and talk to her. I went to Skateworld in Linda Vista thinking that it would be something like pro-wrestling, all staged. I went in after the first half of the bout and was surprised to see that the crowd was full of family and regular people. When the teams came out and I could see that I was going to experience something totally different. This was no show, it was a real sport with real competitors with officials who were professionals. The bout went on and the determination of the team members of both teams was as exciting as anything that I have seen. I have to mention that I am not a fan of team sports. I do not care to watch men doing anything, I just don't care for it. I do not like to watch baseball or football on television. It does nothing for me. Woman's Roller Derby is faster than baseball and easier to understand than football. The big plus.... attractive athletic women who play their hearts out...... professionally! I was hooked; I became a volunteer referee. My Derby name is Quadz Emodo #41.
What I found out is that these women pay for every lesson and buy their own equipment. They pay to play; it is that serious to them. It took a while for them to accept me as a person who took their interest seriously. Coming to practice was like being inside of a pro football team locker room. The girls are wearing all sorts of braces and full of wraps. Toes and fingers are taped up and bruises are plentiful. Ice bags are seen after practice. They don't complain unless they are not skating.The air is filled with that unique feeling of true competition. There are serious injuries that occur during the bouts and in practice. Why I think that this is something that explains culture in our time is that it is a completely woman run sport which follows the guidelines of Woman's Flat Track Derby Association, (WFTDA).
What I see is that we have come along socially where women have the ability to be totally in control of a sport . These girls run the sport. The women come from all sorts of backgrounds. One was a professional figure skater, One teaches special needs children, and another is a Student who is going to be a Marine Biologist. Bully Julie reminds me of the Senior NCO's that I knew when I was in the Army; one that is battle worn, with that silent authority that automatically commands respect. There are mothers, some single, who bring their children along and it evident that the children are proud of their mothers. They want to grow up to be Derby Girls. The young boys act like older brothers to all of the little ones. SDRD is not just a team, it is a family. What other sport is there where competitors and children are a part of the whole? I do know that culturally this is a sport that belongs in our society as it is a glue that will bond everyone involved as a whole, family, team members, officials, and especially the fans. This is America at its best and one day some of these Derby Girls or their children will be representing the United States in the Olympics. Go Derby! Go Girls! link text