So ya wanna be a Rollergirl? What to expect and what is expected (Part 1 of a 2 part series)

This is lengthy so it has been divided into two parts. Part two will be published in the coming days.

(Photo: Deb Boylan)

Maybe you’ve been to a recent roller derby bout or perhaps you’ve read about roller derby (maybe even on this blog), and you are intrigued. Perhaps your friends have proclaimed, “You ought to do this!”  You happen to love wearing torn fishnets and thigh high socks, you’re sporting a few rad tattoos (tattoos encouraged but not required) and you even have an awesome derby name picked out.

You’re in luck because the Lehigh Valley Rollergirls will be holding another open recruitment session and orientation on June 20, 2011 from 8 – 10pm at their home track the Independence Family Fun Center in Schnecksville.  Here you will learn everything you always wanted to know about the LVRG and what it takes to become a member of this Derby family.

More than a cute name and some funky duds, becoming a member of the Lehigh Valley Rollergirls takes dedication and serious commitment. If you are thinking you can just throw on a pair of skates, craft a persona and show up on bout day, you are in for a rude awakening.

To answer some of your questions and prepare you for what you will encounter at the open recruit event, this blog sat in for the April open recruit session and has the skinny to help you decide if this is something for you.

First of all don’t be scared, these girls may hit hard on the track but they don’t bite. They are there to answer your questions and provide you the necessary information and encouragement needed to succeed. Once you enter the Independence Family Fun Center you will be given an application form and a welcome guide.  This guide will explain the requirements for membership so don’t worry if you forget something that is said at the orientation, it’s all there for you to refer back to.

A helpful suggestion for potential Rollergirls (new Rollergirls are referred to as fresh meat) is to practice on skates if you can prior to the open recruit. Many local skating rinks have open skate sessions and if you haven’t been on skates in a few years or perhaps ever, this would be a good place to get accustomed (or re-accustomed) to being on four wheels.

A word about the skates, Rollergirls do not use in-line skates (rollerblades), they skate with quads. Quads are probably what you may have used the first time you skated at a roller rink and they consist of two wheels in the front, two wheels in the back (think of a car) and a stopper at the front-most part of the boot right in the center.

(Photo: Deb Boylan)

If you have your own skates bring them along while there will be loaner equipment on site there may not be enough for everyone to skate at one time and you may have to wait your turn. If you happen to have wrist guards and knee pads bring those as well. No equipment? No worries there will be something available for you to use. But it will speed things along and give you more rink time if you bring what you have.

Before you get to lace up you will learn what is required of fresh meat (and experienced Rollergirls as well). Attendance is mandatory for weekly practices which are held Monday from 7-9pm and Thursday from 8-10pm evenings at the home rink (IFFC). There is an additional practice Sunday evening which is not mandatory for fresh meat but encouraged. Fresh meat (and again everything stated here is required of all members), are also required to attend league meetings, join a committee and attend special events in the community.

Special events are fun, help raise money for charity and promote the LVRG in the surrounding community, past events that LVRG have made appearances at are; guest bartending for charity, a benefit concert, and a tattoo expo to name just a few.  All the Rollergirls are divided up into teams that rotate coverage of community events. Teams are designated by color for example the green team worked the tattoo expo.

Each Rollergirl is required to pay $50 monthly dues. The team is completely DIY and self owned and by paying dues you are also a stakeholder in the team. These dues are necessary for operating expenses such as renting the facility, printing the programs, advertising, etc. Unlike other professional sports there are no large corporate sponsors or owners underwriting the cost. The team relies on the generosity of local businesses who provide sponsorship dollars by purchasing advertising, but that is nowhere near enough to keep the team in operation.  

Self ownership means the team controls their own destiny; all functions including administrative, financial and graphic design are done by the diverse and talented team members.  While it is hard work it is also worthwhile to maintain independence and control their identity as a team.

In addition to the monthly dues all Rollergirls are required to purchase their own equipment and medical insurance (if not covered by an employer). Injuries do occur as this is a full contact sport and insurance is required. A fresh meat will need to purchase a uniform, skates (obviously), and protective gear.

(Photo: Deb Boylan

Protective gear includes a helmet, wrist guards, knee and elbow pads and a mouth guard (you like your teeth don’t you?). Don’t skimp on quality when buying your protective gear it is in your best interest to prevent serious injury if you can. Items can be found locally at retailers such as Army/Navy store in Whitehall, Homebase Skate Shop in Bethlehem, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Modell’s, and other sports shops. You can also try online retailers. Mouth guards are also available at many sporting good stores as well as pharmacies such as CVS.

You will see most Rollergirls sporting stockings and knee/thigh high socks and it is more than simply a fashion statement. Stockings/tights and socks not only look cool, they keep your knee pads in place and prevent them from digging into you. Who knew style could be so functional? A great place to shop for socks online is Sock Dreams: http://www.sockdreams.com/_pages/index.php  

Also check out Exotic Dreams located in the Raspberry Court Shopping Center at 1980 Catasauqua Road, in Allentown, PA. This newly remodeled location offers lingerie, hosiery, costumes and many other items to complete your Derby look. Ask for Ruth and tell them Deb Boylan sent you! For hours and directions check out their website: http://www.condomsgalore.com/e_dreams.html

By now you are probably thinking this is a lot of work and commitment and indeed it is. The best things aren’t always easily attained but the rewards are great. If you can handle the expectations you will find yourself part of a rapidly growing sisterhood not only on a local level but internationally as well.

All potential Rollergirls must be 18 and over and bring valid photo identification.

Part two coming soon, look for it. Or better yet subscribe and never miss a post.

Army Navy Store 1045 Grape Street, Whitehall, PA 18052-5196 (610) 266-1045 ‎ http://www.gearstuff.com/index.php

Homebase Skate Shop  14 west 4th street Bethlehem, PA  10815 (610)866.0540 http://homebase610.com/

Lehigh Valley Rollergirls recruitment contact Phish Tahko  at: join@lehighvalleyrollergirls.com   

www.lehighvalleyrollergirls.com

(Image: LVRG)

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