As a parent, you want to raise a confident, healthy, happy girl. You watch her grow and take note of what she enjoys: singing, dancing, building, drawing, swimming… When you see the activity that lights her up inside, you want to help her build her dream. For some kids, it’s obvious what that dream is. For most, you have to search and hope for something that eventually sparks her interest. Los Angeles is a marvelous city because there are countless options. One of them you may not have considered is roller derby. Yes, you read that right. The full contact sport you may remember from your 80s (or even 70s) childhood is back – breathed full of new life by ambitious women who are now training the next generation.
In the early 2000s, women’s roller derby re-emerged in Austin, Phoenix and Los Angeles – and soon the rest of the country — and the early league founders made it their own. The modern day version of women’s roller derby eliminated some of its predecessor’s traditions (the fights and TV melodrama between players) but kept others (cheeky derby names and classic quad roller skates), and turned it into the world’s fastest-growing women’s sport. Now leagues all around the world are practicing in roller rinks, warehouses and garages, on banked tracks and on concrete, building their teams and playing games (called “bouts”) for enthusiastic fans. What started as an underground subculture has turned into a worldwide phenomenon.
Los Angeles is home to three roller derby leagues – Los Angeles Derby Dolls, Angel City Derby Girls and SFV Roller Derby – and all three have a junior league for girls ages 7-17. Junior roller derby focuses on teamwork, strength, and strategy, but also body positivity, inclusivity, and empowerment. The girls learn how to safely skate, block, and fall, but they also learn to stand up for themselves, to be fierce, how to take control, and not apologize. Coming up with their derby moniker and strapping on their skates is like putting on their superhero costume. Little Lulu is now “Eastside Slammer.” Myrna becomes “Metal Morticia.” Part of a tight-knit team, these girls come to realize they are powerful and important.
Yes, it is a full contact sport. Your daughter will get hit. She will fall down. But she will learn the ins and outs of how to be physical in the safest way possible, and it won’t be long before she’ll realize that she can take whatever knocks her down and still get back up, stronger than ever. (And there’s nothing that beats the feeling of a putting a well-timed hip check on an opponent at exactly the right time!)
Junior derby mom, Katie, says watching her 13-year-old daughter, “Bubblegum Brawl,” play roller derby brings her to tears. “The way she skates, seeing how much she’s grown, it makes my heart so proud. I’m not a crier, but I cry almost every time she plays. You can see it on her face that she goes hard and puts it all on the line,” she says. “She is growing up to be the young woman I always hoped she’d be.”
Maybe your daughter could use some self-confidence, more activity, or perhaps more friends. Becoming part of a roller derby family can be a potentially life-changing experience for girls of any age. She doesn’t have to know how to roller skate. She doesn’t even need skates or gear to get started – just a mouth guard, proof of insurance and a signed waiver.
Want to see your little girl become her own superhero? Contact a league below for beginner lessons!
- L.A. Junior Derby Dolls (http://www.derbydolls.com/junior-derby-dolls/) are currently holding practices and accepting new skaters every Saturday morning 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Beginners must be between the ages of 7 and 17, have a formed mouth guard, proof of insurance, and parents must sign the liability waiver. First class is free! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
- Angel City Derby Girls (http://angelcityderby.com/teams/juniors/) offers three levels of membership for juniors. Email email@example.com to sign up.
- SFV Junior Roller Derby (http://sfvrollerderby.com/juniors) holds beginner juniors practices every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.