The day-to-day grind can manage to put many of us in a funk. You may love your job, or it is just a means to an end, but one thing stays the same – you need something else that fulfills you outside the confines of your profession.

What would you say if you knew that your accountant, school teacher, stay at home mom, server, lawyer or nurse was a member of a roller derby team? If your response was “that’s awesome” or “what the heck is roller derby?” then this story is for you.

The most common form of roller derby (or “skating marathons” as it was referred to in the 1930s) is referred to as “Flat Track” derby, meaning the sport can be played on any flat surface that is suitable for skating. Roller derby is a fun, fast-paced, physically and mentally demanding sport. For well over 60 years, roller derby has been mostly female dominated. However, men are quickly becoming just as prominent in roller derby today. Most leagues are owned and operated by one or more team members, and also rely on league dues, fundraising and sponsorship to keep them afloat. First Settlement Derby explains the gameplay and history here.

© Nathaniel Knobel

First Settlement Derby is the first but not the only roller derby team in the Mid-Ohio Valley. The team is comprised of men and women with a common goal: to work together as a team, have fun and give back to their community.

Brianna Bodie explains how FSD often holds bouts for charity. “All of our home bouts support local charities or individuals who have struggled with health issues. Our team is passionate about helping the community. We have hosted several bouts that have raised funds for The Humane Society of the Ohio Valley, as well as events to raise awareness and support for those battling cancer, and other life altering illnesses. Our team has also participated in other charity events such as the Riditerod, and Bra Scavenger Hunt for Breast Cancer Awareness. We work together as a team for the greater good, whether we are on the track, or showing our loyalty and support for local charity events. I couldn’t be more proud of the love that we pour into our community. It has been a very powerful bonding experience for all of us.”

Roller derby to me is like the saying ‘Life’s not about how hard of a hit you can give… it’s about how many you can take, and still keep moving forward.

Members all have different personal reasons for turning to roller derby. The outcome of each individual has given roller derby a lot of credit in confidence boosting and monotony killing. “I am a teacher, wife and mother and spend most of my day in intellectual pursuits, so something purely physical was exactly the outlet I needed. I love spending my evenings with hard working people who give it everything they’ve got. I get to be goofy and irreverent. It has made my ‘real’ life so much better because I have an outlet,” team member Corinne Full said.

Sally Thompson takes a favorite quote of hers and applies it to her love of roller derby. “Roller derby to me is like the saying ‘Life’s not about how hard of a hit you can give… it’s about how many you can take, and still keep moving forward.’ It made me realize I am a stronger person than I ever thought I was.”

© Nathaniel Knobel

Much like any sport, there are common misconceptions and stereotypes that follow roller derby. One of my favorite slain stereotypes comes from Corinne Full: “It’s NASCAR for fat chicks. There is an assumption that we are uneducated and trashy. We are college professors, nurses, accountants, social workers and everything in between. We are socially aware and knowledgeable about all aspects of the world regardless of our number and level of degrees. As for the trashy, we wear tight clothes so it doesn’t catch on anything or anyone. It is a physical sport so I will grab a teammate to get by or help build a wall. The NFL wears tight clothes too and they grab butts. Are they trashy? People also think it’s easy and unathletic: Practices are 2 1/2 hours of endurance, core training, strategy and agility.”

Amanda Beebe tells us how teamwork and good sportsmanship are extended to opposing teams in roller derby. “People think when we play against another team that we are mad if we lose, but we’re not. After every bout there is a time when both teams hang out. I love this time. Learning stuff from other players and hanging out with a great group of ladies and gentlemen. We are like sisters to each other – when you need us, we’ll be there.”

Perhaps you are considering roller derby, or you are more terrified of it then you were before. Maybe skating isn’t your strong suit, but you are still interested. If any of these scenarios resonate with you, let the girls of FSD tell you how to overcome your fears first-hand.

Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. You never know what you might discover about yourself in the process. You will fall, you might even feel discouraged in the beginning, but it’s all worth it.

Bodie gives prospects some words of encouragement. “Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. You never know what you might discover about yourself in the process. You will fall, you might even feel discouraged in the beginning, but it’s all worth it. Every time you fall down you pick yourself up and learn something about yourself. Playing derby has allowed me to experience a completely different side of my life. It will give you strength and confidence. Never give up. It’s a team sport, and everyone leans on each other and encourages one another. And whether or not we win or don’t, we still share a true passion for the sport.”

© Nathaniel Knobel

“To become a member of FSD, all you have to do is attend our weekly boot camps at the Marietta Roller Rink. We will teach you everything you need to know. We have a Jr league, women’s league and a coed league. If skating isn’t for you we are always needing referees and non skating officials,” Thompson said.

Last but not least, Full brings the realness with her advice. “Don’t hesitate. You will be better at your job, your relationships, if you have something for yourself. It doesn’t have to be derby, but value yourself enough to do something for you. Also, do derby because you love it even when you are exhausted and sweaty and keep falling. If that last part sounds awful then don’t do derby. It’s a sport. It’s not an exhibition of you in tight clothes looking cute.”

© Nathaniel Knobel

Fun fact: roller derby is being considered for the 2020 Olympics!