The skaters of Central Maine Derby are thrilled to bring you Skate Don’t Hate – Lessons From the Roller Derby Track, a blog by Bangor’s newest roller derby league dedicated to all things derby, which goes way beyond the track. Roller derby is the fastest growing sport in the country, and for good reason. This is not the roller derby you watched on Saturday mornings as a kid. This is a sport. We skate hard, we train hard, we hit hard, and yes, sometimes we fall hard. We love derby and we want you to love it too.
A Little Roller Derby History
Why roller derby? Why NOT? Modern roller derby found its renaissance in Austin, Texas in the early 2000s and caught on quickly. By 2006, there were over 135 leagues across the country. Today, derby is governed by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, the international governing body for the sport of women’s flat track roller derby. WFTDA boasts over 170 member leagues and 94 apprentice leagues worldwide.
Today’s roller derby leagues are amateur leagues, primarily skater owned and operated, as Central Maine Derby is. We are a Maine not-for-profit corporation. We pour our blood, sweat, and tears into our league on and off the track.
How Is Roller Derby Played?
What is roller derby? How do you play the game? It’s simple.
A roller derby bout is divided into two thirty minute halves. Each half is made up of short periods, called jams. Each jam can last up to two minutes.
Each team plays five skaters at a time. Of the ten skaters on the track, eight are blockers, and one skater from each team is a jammer. Jammers wear stars on their helmets because, well, because they are the stars – they score the points. The blockers stay together in what is called the pack.
The goal of the game is to help the jammer on your team skate through the pack and lap the pack, while stopping the opposing jammer from getting through the pack and lapping the pack. The first jammer through the pack is designated as the lead jammer. She is the only skater with the ability to call off the jam, aka, stop the jam, before the two minute period runs.
Once a jammer gets through the pack, laps the track, and catches up to the pack, she scores a point for every skater of the opposing team she passes. She can call off the jam at any time, like when the opposing jammer catches up or passes her, scoring more points for the opposing team.
While the jammers tend to attract a lot of attention, the blockers make the game exciting to watch. The blockers’ job is to stop the jammers from getting through the pack using shoulders, hips, and booties, but without elbow, hand or forearm contact, and no tripping. The blockers also help their jammer through the pack by creating holes in opposing blocker walls, and by whipping or pushing their jammer through the opposing blockers. Put this all together and you end up with one fast-paced, exciting, and complex game, where both teams play offense and defense simultaneously, blocking, hitting, jamming, jumping, and falling through the pack.
Want more? Here, watch this:
If that’s not enough, roller derby turns it up a notch by adding to the entertainment derby-style. Roller derby skaters typically skate under a skater pseudonym – a unique name that expresses an alter ego, a creative bent, usually some play on words or satirical twist of the aggressive aspects of the game. (You can check out our skaters’ derby names such as Amazing Graceless, Hot Brod, Artemis Wrecks, Wined Up, you get the drift.) And derby girls skate in style. We like our tattoos, fishnets, and stylin’ derby knee socks. It’s not unusual to spot us in tutus and brightly colored tights. This sense of derby culture provides the creative outlet to balance the aggressive outlet we find on the track.
Community & Giving Back
Hooked yet? Because there’s way more to roller derby than just the game.
Roller derby is also all about community, creating a community within the league, and giving back to the community that supports our sport. You may have seen Central Maine Derby volunteering all over town, with great organizations like Welcome to Housing Bangor, United Cerebral Palsy, and the Bangor Humane Society, skating in the Bangor Rotary’s Festival of Lights Parade, helping spread the word on missing children with the Fireball Run Adventurerally, and volunteering our time at a number of local charities. Our skaters volunteer in our community on a monthly basis as part of our mission.
Central Maine Derby is also particularly proud of our Skate Don’t Hate program. Promoting tolerance with our anti-bullying message, we present at local schools and talk to kids about how derby girls come together to play as a team, celebrating and respecting our diversity, and speak out against biased based behaviors. On October 1, 2012, we kicked off our Skate Don’t Hate program by teaming with Great Skates for Skate Don’t Hate Night at Great Skates, where Great Skates generously donated all proceeds from the night to anti-bullying programs.
About Our League
The diversity of women found in roller derby is extraordinary. As an amateur sport, derby girls come from all walks of life. Central Maine Derby has skaters ranging in age from 19 to 50-something (yes!). We are nurses, teachers, retail workers, doctors, lawyers, artists, homemakers, caregivers, students, therapists, professors, graphic designers, and more. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, and partners. We live in Bangor, Brewer, Orono, Dexter, Winterport, Orrington, and all over the greater Bangor area.
We at Central Maine Derby have found that the challenges and thrills of roller derby carry way off the track into our daily lives. The lessons of derby hold true on or off skates. This is what we hope to bring you with this blog –all the derby love, but none of the hits or bruises! A few derby thoughts to get you through the day. We hope you’ll find that our deep derby thoughts translate pretty easily to life in general. Strap on your skates – you’re in for a fun ride!
If you want to find out more about Central Maine Derby, check our website at www.centralmainederby.com. Already want to play? We have a newbie class starting in February. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. Just want to try it out? Women and men over 18 can join CMD at Fitness Skate, every Tuesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Great Skates in Bangor for all the fun and exercise of derby, without the contact.