The Future is Here
Written by Rhea CycleHer (Single Handed Roller Derby-Arizona)
Rhea started skating four years ago with OC Rollergirls and then co-founded South Coast Roller Derby in San Clemente, CA. After moving to Arizona, Rhea found a new derby family with Single Handed Roller Derby, the only Co-Ed league in Arizona. Derby is Rhea’s whole life and with her other 8 Wheels, started a company called “16 Wheeled Weirdos” which will be launching later this month. As an avid writer, skater and derby enthusiast, Rhea writes as the Phoenix Roller Derby Examiner (http://www.examiner.com/roller-derby-in-phoenix).
While the re-birth of roller derby consisted of all-female skaters, that is no longer the case. Times are changing, and derby is rolling right along with them. Men’s leagues are increasing in popularity and co-ed is following right behind.
As with most changes, co-ed derby brings both pros and cons to the table and is constantly debated amongst the derby community. The combining of male and female forces stands to bring roller derby to more skaters and fans alike.
Often times, biased opinions are aired when men’s or co-ed derby is brought to conversation. Some female skaters feel that the sport is a “women’s sport” and that there is no room for men, not to mention men and women skating together.
This mind-set is not only misinformed, but highly inaccurate. The sport was originated and popularized by men, and eventually opened to female skaters. The thought that roller derby is a woman’s sport is invalid and unfair to the derby men who have worked and continue to work so hard for the sport.
The combined force of male and female skaters creates a unique and amazing opportunity for the derby community. Co-ed leagues draw couples, family members and friends together to create a unique family of skaters that train, practice and sweat for the same cause.
Female skaters have been perfecting moves and strategy for years, but there is much to be learned from male skaters. Men tend to take more risks when skating, and the return of males to the sport provides all skaters with a new wealth of knowledge.
As members of co-ed leagues, female skaters are able to get a better understanding of the male sports attitude and are encouraged to increase their game at the same time. By skating with males, a whole new perspective can be gained with an open mind.
Roller derby has become a sport that is accepting of all female skaters, regardless of socioeconomic status, height, weight, sexual orientation, etc but many skaters continue to remain closed off to the importance of male skaters to the sport. With more and more co-ed leagues joining the scene, fans and skaters alike are exposed to an entirely unique take on derby.
While female and male leagues work hard, co-ed leagues have to take training and strategy to the next level in order to perform at top level. Strategy in skating is a must in co-ed skating, and encourages all league members to take their skills to the next level.
What could be a better representation of equality then co-ed skating? Women have been fighting for years and years to be treated equally, and co-ed derby allows women to participate at the same level as male skaters. As one of the only full-contact sports available to anyone, it makes sense to support leagues of female, male and co-ed skaters alike.
No matter what political, religious or social beliefs a person maintains, we are all members of one large, derby family at the end of the day. It is crucial that we do not discourage other skaters and continue to promote the growth of all derby leagues, including male and co-ed teams.
Derby is on the brink of being considered mainstream, and with that goal in sight, it is more imperative then ever before that all skaters are positively promoting the sport.
Take time to frequent bouts and events with your local male or co-ed league and watch closely. Skill, strategy and teamwork are the foundation behind these teams, and all skaters benefit with the addition of more talented skaters. Keep an open mind and welcome your fellow derby skaters, regardless of gender.
The Modern Athletic Derby Endeavor now includes 18 co-ed leagues among its more than 30 members.