Roller Derby, a Community of Strength

Crash Kale-Ishion #12

It’s January and ARRG are back for the first training session of 2017. The familiar sound of wheels on the rubber sports court and whistles blowing drills makes me feel at home. Specifically it is the All Star Rookies (ASTROs) first team training for the new season. After victories away in Belfast and at our home tournament ARRGmageddon at the end of last year we are keen to be even stronger, more together and aggressive in our play this year. Today Vice-Captain Hoose is putting us through our paces transitioning around obstacles in tight spaces. Practice that will hopefully prove useful getting past tough walls of blockers when I jam in our next game against Newcastle’s North C’s on 28th January.

Crash in action against Belfast City Rockets

I started roller derby almost 2 years ago now after stumbling upon the Auld Reekie Roller Girls website. I read all the ‘Featured Skater’ posts and was struck by the way each skater clearly had mental & physical strength, self-confidence and an amazing community to be a part of. Having struggled with my physical and mental health for several years I didn’t have those things. But it seemed that the simple (or not so simple if you have never skated before like me) act of putting on some roller skates had something to do with those qualities so I signed up for the next beginners programme.

Fast forward to today and it feels like a very satisfying circle of events to be sitting here writing an ARRG blog. It hasn’t been easy. I remember attempting the 25/5 laps assessment countless times – thinking to myself ‘I can’t do this’ as I skated round the track. Then when I failed, on multiple occasions, I would endlessly criticize myself inside my head for ‘not being good enough’ and ‘always failing’. Eventually I did pass my laps and the day that I did I thought ‘I can do this!’ for the first time about anything in a very long time. (This why I now have #crashcan written on my helmet!) Since then I am eternally grateful for the way roller derby gives me a lens through which to observe how I react to challenge, failure, success, fear and insecurity and then the motivation to analyse those reactions to see if they are helpful, healthy or downright self-destructive. Mentality isn’t a substitute for hard work but I don’t think we can ever fulfil our potential (athletic or otherwise) unless we have constructive reactions to success, failure and everything in between. So it turns out that strapping on a pair of roller skates did have something to do with becoming mentally and physically stronger and more self-confident.



As for community my team the ASTROS are some of the best people I know. I am always happier after a training session with them because of our hardworking but fun and supportive team atmosphere. Our upcoming bout against Newcastle will be one of our most challenging games to date but we are ready. Our leadership team are an organisational and tactical powerhouse to die for and our roster is strong, confident and experienced.

We play to win but regardless of the outcome I hope we can take something from the game that makes us stronger, happier and better people. That’s why I started roller derby and why I keep coming back for more.

Come support Crash and her ASTRO team pals in action against Newcastle North C’s On Saturday 28th Jan! Get your tickets here.

Photo credit: Sara Marsden Photography

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