Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why I Sometimes Hesitate to Recruit Derby Skaters

Everyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love derby.  I watch derby, I blog about derby, and I am willing to drop everything for the chance to play derby.  I am derby addicted!  Because I am so dedicated to the sport and my league, I tend to be on the prowl for skaters I see at Open Skates every week.  Yes, I scope out the adult skaters, both women and men, and sometimes I approach them and try to sell them on derby.  I usually have business cards to give them, or flyers about try outs.  I'm usually pretty good at engaging people, but every once in a while I find myself hesitating to recruit people into our world.   Let's face it, there are a lot of "not so positive" things about our sport, and is it unethical to not mention them?
Roller Derby Wants Your Life!

Reason Number the First
Derby is a time suck that makes all other time sucks look like amateur time sucks.  I smile and tell potential recruits that our league has three practices a week with two speed practices that are optional, making it five practices a week, but that doesn't include the volunteer hours, the committee meetings, the cross training, the travel time and team bonding.  Don't forget about our is endless.   How can I sell these innocent skaters the idea of derby without giving them a warning about how their lives will slowly narrow down into the black hole of roller derby.  Should I warn them?  I kind of wish someone had warned me.  Don't you?

Reason Number the Second
Derby ain't cheap.  Not only do you have dues, but you have to buy gear, pay for travel, pay for uniforms, replace gear, get more wheels, get better boots, get better plates, buy the WFTDA feed for the playoffs....whew! Did I mention buy more wheels?  BUY ALL THE WHEELS! Did Bont just release a new boot?  MUST GET IT! It's hard to express just how expensive derby can be, without scaring a new recruit off. 

Reason Number the Third
Hey possible recruit, you WILL get hurt.  It's not a matter of if, but of when, and how severe.  That seems to be the most popular question I get asked by possible recruits, "Do you get hurt?"  I answer honestly; I've broken my nose, three fingers, severely sprained my ankle, cracked my sternum, earned a permanent dimple in my butt from a skate wheel, not to mention countless bruises!  Derby is painful, and depending on the severity of the injury, it might permanently affect your life.  It also can permanently affect your job.  So, can I sign you up?

Reason Number the Fourth
Derby can completely break your heart.  It doesn't always last forever, but derby can be a really capricious bitch when it comes to your self respect, self image and ego.  Sometimes derby can bring you to the highest highs and the lowest lows, all in the same day.  Drama, rosters, pecking orders, ugh!  Derby is a nightmare at times, and if your league is going through any of those issues, it is hard to look a recruit in his or her hopeful face and say "Sure, it's the most awesome of experiences!"  Make sure your league is a place you would want to bring someone before you recruit!

On the Other Hand
Sometimes I hesitate to recruit someone because of something I've discovered about the recruit while I'm talking to them.  Usually, I try and let the recruit talk about what they like to do in their spare time.  If they do EVERYTHING EVER, then I wonder if they'll be able to commit to derby?  If they're playing rugby, mountain biking, mentoring special needs kids, traveling for work constantly, derby is probably not going to fit their lifestyle.  I also hesitate to recruit people if they come across as absolute messes. You know what I mean; derby calls enough crazies to skate, so I don't think I need to recruit more insanity.


  1. for your "on the other hand" bit, recruit them as volunteers! We have a lot of volunteers who are just as you describe, but they have a few hours once a month to spend on derby, too. They may just be taking tickets or selling t shirts but without them, you'd be doing it when you're off the track. Or just invite them to bouts, maybe make new fans!

  2. On the other hand...I used to be terrified of getting hurt and I can bet that if someone had stressed derby's negatives before I had a chance to witness its positives, I would have made an "educated" decision to run the other way. Often we're capable of more than we give ourselves credit for, and I'm still grateful for my initial naivete--it got me on skates! Turns out I'm tougher and more dedicated than I thought.