“S-V-R-G! WE! ARE! FAMILY!” That call-and-response cheer is joyously shouted by the Silicon Valley Roller Girls after each practice and before each bout, but it wasn’t until I found myself skating in the San Jose Rose, White, and Blue parade on Independence Day, wearing a bright green tutu and chanting alongside my new friends and teammates that I realized how quickly this group of people have come to feel like family.
It’s been said that Roller Derby is something that you find during life transitions and that statement definitely rings true for me. It was August of last year that my husband and I decided to sell the majority of our belongings and head out west. I’d been presented with a job opportunity that would finally bring me to the Bay Area, the place I’ve dreamt of living my whole life. This may seem a bit melodramatic, but if you’ve ever had to dig your car out of a 6’ bank of snow in the middle of February than you understand my elation. Born and raised in the Chicago area, accepting this amazing opportunity meant leaving the bitter cold winters behind, but along with that, my home of 34 years, and both of our friends and families.
Fast-forward six months to February of this year. One morning I woke up excited and realized that I’d been dreaming about Roller Derby. I often have premonitions in my sleep so I was determined to research Derby and ending up finding an article online about SVRG’s rink closing its doors. Feeling deflated, I took this as a gloomy indicator that the girls were no longer skating. The dream faded and my attention moved on.
A few months later, my husband, remembering my dream, shared a Facebook post with me that he’d seen announcing the season opener of the Silicon Valley Roller Girls! We bought tickets to the bout and, in checking out the SVRG site, found that they have a recreational league called The Circuit Jerks! I immediately began emailing back and forth with Goldie Knox for more information. By the time my husband and I had attended our first bout, I had already ordered new skates and had even begun the process of getting my WFTDA insurance and paperwork completed! Once the bout was over, my mind had caught up to what my heart already knew: I am in love with Roller Derby!!!
What I find so amazingly unique about SVRG is the passion, excitement and dedication I see in the coaches, referees, volunteers, league members and fans. It was incredibly intimidating to show up to my first practice. It’d easily been 15 years since I’d last been on roller skates, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I was quickly reassured by Unicorn Chaser that everybody starts out looking like “Bambi on ice”. Every time you lace up your skates for Derby, you’re challenged to go beyond every self-preservation instinct you have. Everyone will experience the feeling of tailbone painfully hitting concrete, sometimes repeatedly. But your teammates are always there to cheer you on when you get back up on your skates and you eventually wise up and purchase padded shorts.
It’s been an awesome journey so far, re-learning how to skate like a true Derby girl. I’ve only been involved with SVRG for a few months now and already I’ve seen huge improvements in my abilities! Roller Derby is the only women’s full contact sport that I know of where you can spend an hour bashing into your opponents out on the track only to then end up dancing the night away side-by-side at the after party while handing awards out to the opposing team! If you’re reading this and wondering whether or not to try roller derby, just remember: you too could rock a sweet green tutu, wear panties on your head, and make a game of hitting your friends, all while being cheered on by the awesome SVRG fans!
If you want to be a part of SVRG like Sharkie, email firstname.lastname@example.org and come stop by one of our summer events to talk to other derby girls! SVRG will be at Hot San Jose Nights TODAY, so come check us out. Later this summer, SVRG will also be Aloha Roller Rink on July 17th from 7pm-10pm, and the San Jose Farmers Markets on August 14th and 21st! If you're already a skater or NSO or referee, August 17th marks the return of the open Black and White Scrimmages hosted by your Circuit Jerks! So drop in and join in the fun!