Back in 2012, I was taking a swim class at the university. One day, the woman I often swam next to asked me if I liked to skate. I reminisced about field trips and birthdays that used to fill my schedule at Roller Kingdom. Of course, this followed with an affirmative answer and she invited me to a recruiting event for the Reno Roller Girls. They had plenty of gear and milk crates full of skates for us to use as we got a feel for what this sport was all about. The first two skills I learned – one technical and one “soft” – were how to fall and “there is no sorry in roller derby”.
Moderately intimidated with extreme enthusiasm, I decided to buy into the idea. There is no sorry in roller derby. Over the course of the next few months, I started to understand the idea behind this statement. There is no sorry in roller derby. It may have become engrained in us, because every time someone let these words slip, it resulted in 10 push-ups, 20 sit-ups or something of the conditioning type. There is no sorry in roller derby. What this statement really taught me is how to skate with an unapologetic ferocity as I try to become the best skater I can be.
You’re right – why should I be sorry for hitting you? It was not malicious. It was part of game play. Should I be sorry that it was more of a back block than a solid hip check? No. I’m learning and trying to refine my approach. I’m not sorry I tripped over you. I’m trying to re -learn how my feet work. I’m not sorry I accidentally groped you. It was a funny lesson on stability. I’m not sorry you drop kicked me with your skate and neither should you be. Roller derby is a full contact sport. We have no reason to be sorry that our bodies interacted. If anything, we should be saying thank you.
Thank you for being my teammate. Thank you for aiding in my stability even if it required your boob. Thank you for debriefing me about what just happened and suggesting modifications that can be made. Thank you for pointing out things that I missed while trying to break through a defensive pack. Thank you for holding me accountable for my actions. Thank you for helping me learn about the intricacies of this sport. I appreciate you.
There is no sorry in roller derby. In fact, I have zero regrets for the actions that were taken which have resulted in being surrounded by an enthusiastic group of athletic people who love their community and take initiative to make themselves and their surroundings exceptional.
~Lander Kennedy aka Rosie Burns