Skint Interviews: Rainy City Roller Derby

Credit: Marko Niemela Photography

Rainy City All Stars Jammer Fairy Quake sat down with us to tell us what the life of a roller derby skater was like and the global appeal of roller derby.

For the sake of our readers, can you explain what roller derby is?

Roller derby is a team sport played on quad roller skates on an oval track. It’s played by 2 teams of 14 players. The game runs for two 30 minute periods and is split into a number of jams which last up to two minutes. At any time on the track, 4 skaters from each team act as blockers. Together the blockers make up the pack. One skater from each team is the jammer – they are the point scorer and have a star on their helmet.  When the whistle blows the skaters set off and the jammers have to fight their way through the pack. The blockers must try to stop the opposing jammer and assist their own jammer at the same time. There is no grabbing or tripping but there are full body slams, hip and shoulder barging that can send skaters flying across the track. After the first pass through the pack the jammers can score, gaining 1 point for every member of the opposing team that they pass. At the end of the game the team with the most points wins. The first league was founded in the UK in 2006. Since then, its popularity has boomed.

What is your background in the sport?

Before I tried roller derby, I had never done any roller sports or even seen a roller derby game. In 2012, I signed up to a new skater course that taught the minimum skills required to play. I really enjoyed learning to skate and have stuck with it since then.

Credit: Marko Niemela Photography

How did the All Stars form?

Rainy City Roller Derby was founded in 2008 and was the first league in North West England. Rainy City played its first home game in November 2009 and opened the Thunderdome, its own training space and venue in 2011. Rainy city became a full member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) in 2013. WFTDA is the international governing body for the sport of women’s flat track roller derby, and association of leagues around the world.

How long does the season run for?

The season runs from February to June. The top-ranked teams as of the June 30th Rankings compete in post season Playoff tournaments in late summer/fall, with the top finishers advancing to the Championship tournament in early November.

How are the All Stars performing this season?

The All Stars are performing well this season. We are currently ranked 14th in the world. We went to our third playoffs tournaments in September and narrowly missed out on getting to championships. We are already working on how to get there next year.

The All Stars compete against teams from all over the world. We love European roller derby and host the Eurocup in spring, where we play against some of our favourite teams such as Crime City Rollers.

What motivates you to play roller derby?

I am motivated to play roller derby because there is always something to improve on. As our team improves so do all of our opponents. New and better skills and strategies are always developed and we have to work harder and smarter to achieve our goals. There is never an opportunity to get bored.

What is the best thing about playing roller derby?

The best thing about playing roller derby for me is my teammates. My teammates make training fun. We have a common goal and share the highs and lows of the sport. We build on each other’s strengths to constantly improve. Playing smarter and stronger has much more value when progress is made as a team rather than as an individual.

What is the worst thing about playing roller derby?

The worst thing about roller derby is that it time it takes away from the other parts of my life. Like any sport where you are working to be at a top level, a great deal of commitment is required. Playing roller derby has a lot of benefits and it is worth investing time in the sport.

Credit: Marko Niemela Photography

How does the club/sport benefit the local community?

Rainy City benefits the community by providing opportunity for people to participate in sport. We have our own dedicated venue and practice space, and have a group of devoted, talented coaches dedicated to helping each and every skater be the very best they can be.

Why should people try out roller derby? Any tips for people interested in taking it up?

Roller derby is for everyone. The sport can provide a loving, passionate, inclusive environment designed to help you achieve your goals and dreams. You should try it.

A tip for somebody interested in taking up roller derby is to remember that learning something new is hard but it will be worth it in the end. No matter what your skating ability you will fall down and some skills will be hard to master. You must have the grit to want to get back up and succeed.