Roller Derby

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Roller Derby

Many of you would have seen the thrill and skill required in a Roller Derby game thanks to the film ‘Whip It’, but while Ellen Page is entertaining to watch on screen, the real deal is so much better. The Battle for the Bay competition has come around again and we had a chat to Genevieve from the league on what to expect (and not the Hollywood version).
Hi Genevieve, thanks for taking the time to chat with Forte magazine, how are you and what are you up to at the moment? 
It’s my pleasure. I’m good thanks, just juggling my volunteer derby job (media and marketing) with my day job (PhD student).
So we saw there’s the big competition the Battle for the Bay coming up, how much preparation is involved in such a big comp as this? 
The Battle for the Bay tournament started in March and finishes in August with the final rounds being held in Geelong on the 15th and in Keysborough on the 29th. Geelong Roller Derby League (GRDL) trains twice a week, however many skaters also do additional training outside of derby such as cross-fit, going to the gym or pole dancing. From an event management point of view it has taken several months to organise everything for the tournament including venues, officials, volunteers, promotion, and of course the after party.
Out of the four leagues clashing in the comp, what teams have the biggest rivalries?
Traditionally there has been a little bit of rivalry between GRDL and South Sea Roller Derby (SSRD) but our games against Northside Rollers (NSR) this year have been particularly close. Of course there is always a bit of friendly competition when the two GRDL teams, the Atom Bombs and the Psychotics, play each other.
Are there any favourites to win or will it be a pretty even match? 
It’s hard to say really. You can try to predict the outcome based on the results of the rest of the tournament but anything can happen on the day! The GRDL Psychotics are currently 2nd on the ladder, with the GRDL Atom Bombs right behind them in 3rd place.
Just how full on can we expect for the competition to get? 
As the event on the 15th of August is the last round of the Battle for the Bay tournament before the finals everyone will be working hard to get their team into the best possible finals position. Both of the GRDL teams need a win this round to get into the play-off for 1st place.
Are there many injuries that happen in a comp? 
You don’t see too many major injuries in games but they do happen. Most commonly ankle and knee injuries, and concussions. There is always first aid on site though just in case.
In terms of just the sport in general, how would someone go about getting involved?  
If you’re in Geelong, send an email to [email protected] for information about our upcoming new skater intake. We’re also always looking for referees and non-skating officials. Otherwise a quick google search is bound to find a league near you.
What kind of skills does a great roller derby player need? 
We have no prerequisites to join up though skating experience is highly recommended. Typically derby skaters require a lot of lower body and core strength for stability when taking hits, endurance to be able to skate a full bout, and a bit of agility for moving quickly across the track.
Is it a hard task coming up with the names for each player? 
Each player chooses their own derby name and number. Some people go for variations on their real name, whereas other people might base their name on celebrities, characters, or other pop culture references. There are also a lot of skaters who have started using their real names to get people to take roller derby more seriously as a sport, and so their achievements are recognised under their own name rather than a persona.
In terms of the movie ‘Whip it’, where many will have gained their knowledge of roller derby, how close to the film is the real deal? 
In the movie they play banked track derby whilst we play flat track derby so there is a slightly different rule set. However some of the plays in that movie are pure Hollywood and illegal in either rules set. There’s no punch ons but it is still a full contact sport so people do get hit hard. We have derby names but our uniforms are less costume-like. I do like the “be your own hero” message of the film though.
What’s the number one rule in roller derby? 
To have fun!
Thanks again for having the chat, are there any last words of wisdom you’d like to share with our readers?
If you’ve ever considered playing roller derby give it a go! You don’t know what you can achieve until you try!
When & Where: Battle for the Bay, Leisuretime Centre, Norlane – August 15
If you’re interested in joining the league and in Geelong, email [email protected] for more information.