Skate fast, turn left, GO GO GO

Unlike other members of my family, I have never been a fan of sports. Yes, if it’s on, I will watch a football or hockey game, and yes I did go to the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, but that was more for the experience than the actual sport.

So why roller derby fascinates me is a mystery.

Knockouts vs Saucies 2014
Photo Courtesy of CK Photographic Systems

Unlike many people my age, I do not remember ever seeing the old style of roller derby on Saturday afternoon TV, but I’d heard about the modern incarnation of the sport from a friend online, and I was intrigued. I wanted to check it out the minute I first heard about the Queen City Roller Girls skating at Rainbow Rink, but it felt weird for some reason – like going to see a grade school concert without having a kid in the band. Luckily my sister-in-law-in-law started skating with QCRG in 2009, so I finally had an excuse to go.

From that very first bout, I was in love – well as much in love as anyone could be with this  sport without strapping on a pair of skates (which is NOT going to happen, EVER, so STOP ASKING).  A full contact sport for women, skater-owned and operated, fast paced and yes a little bit confusing to watch at first? And there’s wine? And they throw loaves of bread at you during halftime?? Really, how can anyone not love this sport??

HerHeiney Granger #310 and Tentakool #826
My sister-in-law-in-law HerHeiney Granger #310 and our own Tentakool #826

Not only did I fall in love, but so did our daughter, who was so inspired that she bought skates before even learning how to skate. She’s been a member of the Queen City Junior Roller Girls since they formed in 2011, and has come a long way from not even being able to stand on skates.  Once she started, though, it wasn’t long before I knew I would lose the Husband to derby as well – with his background in sports photography back in college, all it took was a bit of nudge to get back into the hobby, and now he has his own Facebook page, CK Photographic Systems. And of course, it was only a natural that once I opened our first location, that Martinsville Soapworks became a sponsor of the league – 2015 will be our 4th season sponsoring QCRG.

See, I’m not just a sponsor because it’s a really good place for me to advertise, or because it’s in my target demographic, or any of those other things a business owner is supposed to consider when spending advertising dollars. And while those things do matter and do apply, in this case, it’s not about the return on investment. It’s my own little way to help these women play this sport, because I admire derby culture so very much. Everyone is accepted no matter your shape or size, so long as you are willing to put in the time, sweat, and money (and as the mom of a derby girl, I’m well aware of the costs!) – and body acceptance is something pretty rare in our modern culture. There truly is a place for everyone on the rink – yes even men. And if you’re not an athlete when you start, that’s ok too, derby will make you one. This is especially important to me as the mom of a 6′ tall 14-year-old girl, who can be proud of her height and size, yet still want to become more active and healthier without the focus on just how she looks and whether she conforms to society’s ideals.

It’s an exciting year for the league as they make a gigantic move to their own custom-built track inside the Buffalo RiverWorks complex – and if anyone knows how difficult, frustrating, and challenging it can be to move an organization in order to expand and thrive, it’s us. Our move from our old location to Webster Street was the best thing we’ve ever done as a business, and while I know it’s going to be a challenge, I’m sure the folks at QCRG are up to the task.

So even though the venue is not 100% completed – the second level mezzanine isn’t finished and the kitchen and bar aren’t done so ZOMG it’s a “dry” bout tonight – the first bout in their new home is this evening.  And I’ll be there, giving hugs to people who have become dear friends, tearing up at the national anthems, cheering all the teams on, yelling at them to skate fast, turn left, and not lose a wheel (I’M LOOKING AT YOU LAMB CHOP, lol). And above all, proud to say that I’m a fan of roller derby.

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