The path is laid out already and its just a matter of listening.
As the narrowing of focus continues, I realize that derby has been my vehicle to strap on an identity at a time when I most needed it.
After a lifetime of being sexualized and objectified (including self-objectification), derby became a way to let me experience my power. I entered into it with a lot of insecurity as many skaters do, but wound up feeling proud that I could get stronger and faster as an oldie.
I had pretty much been resigned to the fact that as an older skater, I would never have the endurance I might have had 20 or 30 years ago. I accepted that I would have limitations. I made the decision to learn to maneuver better and smarter, and work on having my head in the game. This approach made sense to me because I could be an asset to the stronger players by increasing my confidence. My goal became to help empower my teammates rather than compare myself to them. Before I knew it I was skating faster, getting lower and learning to play derby.
I was obsessed with derby, but came to realize I was much more interested in building strength, and fascinatated by skater behavior; specifically women in competition. Derby is only one of many venues for women to find power but I’m pretty sure the only one that is most often used to create an entire identity through participation. I don’t think it is a coincidence that it is mostly women skaters out there.
For me, this is becoming a quest to find a ways to share empowerment with the focus on self-esteem, and a vehicle to overcome life’s challenges. My interest in derby as a community sport is because of this piece; the psychological aspect and profound impact it IS (not appears to be) making on the participants.
There are other programs and ways to bring about awareness of these same issues, but the special magic around roller derby has been the key to unlocking my mission and drive.
In an effort to gather some statistics I put together a survey and just began getting it out there. It includes a known method of measuring self-esteem and other questions. If the data can be collected I can work towards developing a program that I can bring to kids. I’ve been gathering data about existing studies and resources and want to bring a new one to the table.
The results I’ve gotten back from the survey is mind blowing and I will share the results. Some of the skaters who have answered I wish I could call them and just hug them, but alas it is anonymous and I have no way of doing that.
Teaching derby at a community center next winter is just a beginning, and another program will be developed. I’m leaning towards sneaker derby out on a field. For kids, this could be a fun game full of exercise and for adults a great way to get an off skates workout.
The emphasis of sneaker derby for kids will be on learning to be “good sports” by building teamwork; and an my main goal will be to get people to realize that the most fun is to play hard and fair; and that to actually help a peer become a better athlete is a benefit.
In my observation, a lot of people in compteition view the success of their peers as a threat. Imagine if we could change that for a few people; imagine the real power that could come of that. As a whole, we could be unstoppable and create teams that would be completely awe-inspiring across the board.