Who can join?
Any woman over the age of 18 can join BCB as a skater. Men and women alike are welcome to join as referees or non-skating officials. Boys and girls aged 6-17 are invited to join our Junior league.
Do I have to be a certain size to play?
Absolutely not! There are certain advantages to being either big or small, short or tall. Our league, like many others, has a wide range of body types. No matter what size or shape you are, you can aspire to any position on the track!
Do I have to be a great skater?
Skating experience is preferred, but not required. We recommend that you get out on your skates with proper safety gear and get familiar with what it feels like to be on skates prior to your first day with BCB. Anyone can become a great derby skater with dedication (or addiction, in some cases) and we’ll make sure you get the training to become a terrific skater! Come prepared to challenge yourself both mentally and physically, and to listen closely to all your trainer’s instructions. She’s there to keep you safe! Let her know if you’re brand-new to skating, if you’re recovering from an injury, or have any other concerns so she can look out for you. BCB’s training program consists of three “Phases,” each geared toward a specific skills level. Phase 1 covers basic skating skills: stability, cross-overs, stopping, falling safely and getting back up again. Phase 2 covers skills specific to roller derby: skating in close proximity to other skaters, whips, pushes, positional blocking, and hitting. Each phase goes for six weeks and culminates in an assessment, where (if you make the minimum practice credits to be eligible to attend) you have a chance to pass up to the next phase. Passing your assessment at the end of Phase 2 makes you a fully fledged WFTDA roller derby skater–which is what we call Phase 3!
What gear do I need?
You will need:
- Quad Roller Skates with Adjustable Toe-Stops: the sort that screw in on a 5/8″ bolt and get locked in position with a hex nut
- Low boots: not the ones that lace up high like you see in figure skating or at some skate rental counters
- Helmet: one that can withstand multiple impacts– skateboard or snowboard helmets are OK; bicycle helmets aren’t
- Knee Pads: pro-quality!
- Elbow pads: pro-quality!
- Wrist Guards: pro-quality!
- Mouth-Guard: you will not be allowed to skate at our practices without one!
What about insurance?
All of our skaters, whether referees or team members, must obtain WFTDA insurance, which covers catastrophic events during our practices and bouts. It costs $65 per year. Please fill in the online WFTDA Insurance application before attending your first practice. You will not be able to skate in or referee at bouts without WFTDA coverage! Please note that WFTDA Insurance is not health insurance and won’t cover you outside of practice and bouts. We strongly encourage you to carry your own primary health insurance.
What if I get hurt?
Despite roller derby’s health benefits, it is a contact sport–and one that involves wheels on your feet. Injuries aren’t a matter of “if ” but of when and how bad. That’s why protective gear and WFTDA insurance are required and primary insurance is recommended. Between training, strength-building and stability-improving drills, stretching, and good communication, we’ll do everything in our power to minimize your chance of injury, but we can’t eliminate it entirely. Sprains, strains, pulled muscles, and fractures happen. And they don’t just happen when you’re taking big, powerful hits–you are at your most vulnerable as a beginning skater who’s strapped on her wheels for the first time. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to get used to moving in skates! We recommend you do ankle-strengthening exercises before your first day of derby, and continue to do them outside of practice, to help prevent injuries. We recommend the article “12 Ways to Build Ankle Strength for Top Performance” at www.active.com. A skater’s life needs to be able to accommodate the risk of injury. If you have preexisting injuries, we recommend you consult your medical practitioner about the additional risks of playing a contact sport. And if you experience a minor injury on the track, please consult an appropriate specialist–without adequate treatment, minor injuries can become major ones.
How much time will it take?
That depends on how much you want to get involved. Currently, most of our skaters attend four hours of practice a week, with additional practices for members of the All-Stars and Bombshells travel teams. Skating outside of practice time is highly encouraged. And because this is a skater-owned, skater operated league, you’ll be expected to participate fully in one of our committees (more about those in just a moment), help out in at least two of our promotional events per quarter, and put in at least an hour of volunteer time at any bout we host. (If you simply don’t have time for committees and events, you can opt to support the league instead by paying higher monthly dues.) Budget a little time for occasional mandatory league meetings, too. That said, don’t be discouraged. Everyone has a life off the track. Many women in our league balance work, family, school, and roller derby. It can be done–and it’s well worth the time commitment.
How much will it cost?
There is a one-time joining fee of $50. Monthly dues start at $50, due each month by the 10th of that month. If dues are still not paid by the 10th, you are assessed a $10 fine and you are put on the No Skate List until paid If you do not have time to join a committee, you can opt to pay $65 a month instead of $50. There is a third dues level of $75 for if you also can’t manage the two event credits per quarter. (Remember that home bout volunteering is required of all members at every dues level!) Dues may be paid by check or cash into the gray deposit box at our practice location. You can also pay by PayPal. Instructions on how to pay dues are on our bulletin board.
What can I expect from a typical practice?
Practice actually begins about 15 minutes before the scheduled start time to give you ample time to get your gear up and skate a few laps at your own pace. Usually, the trainer will then lead a couple of group warm-up exercises: pace-line drills, sprinting, and stretching. The rest of the two hours will generally be taken up with endurance drills, agility training, and basic skating skills. Depending on your level, there may be bout strategy drills and scrimmaging. We will work with you no matter what your level, creating drills that focus on what everyone needs to work on.
What does roller derby actually look like?
A game of roller derby is called a “bout.” A bout is divided into plays, called “jams,” which may last up to two minutes each. To start a jam, each team sends five skaters onto the track. Four of them are blockers, and the blocker with the stripe on her helmet is the pivot. These eight blockers–four from each team–are known as the “pack.” The fifth skater, who wears a star on her helmet and starts behind the pack, is called the “jammer,” and she’s the only one who can score points. When the whistle blows, everyone starts to skate and the jam is on! The blockers perform offense and defense simultaneously, attempting to assist their jammer through the pack while preventing the opposing jammer from getting through. The first jammer to pass all of both team’s blockers legally and in-bounds gets the coveted “lead jammer” position, which gives her the superpower of calling off the jam before two minutes have elapsed. Both jammers, whether lead or not, begin to score points on their second and subsequent times through the pack. From now until the end of the jam, each opposing skater a jammer passes, including skaters in the penalty box, is a point for her team. This is not the roller derby of the past! It’s not scripted, and all interactions between opposing skaters are regulated. Punches, hair-pulling, bites, tripping, dog-piles–these are all illegal and will result in penalties. But it remains an aggressive and highly competitive sport. You’ll see some amazing (and legal!) hits–and you’ll learn how to make those hits as a BCB skater. The full rule set can be found here, and you can watch some great derby online here!
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