When I tell people I play roller derby, one of the frequent reactions I get is “but you don’t seem that aggressive.” I also get “but you’re so small”, “you elbow people” and most of the same reactions other players posted on my Facebook page. But the aggression thing really seems to trip up people. Am I likely to attack or act hostile without provocation? No, not really. Yet the word aggression also means assertive, determined and energized.
I think some of the misconceptions about derby girls can be blamed on aggression in women so often being interpreted as anger or bitchiness. When I was a news producer, I had to act aggressively to get stories written and posted to the web and make sure my newscast went on air with as few mistakes as possible. This didn’t mean I ran around yelling and physically attacking reporters, anchors and crew (I may have mumbled threats under my breath). It just meant I took decisive action.
On the track, I’ve seen many different forms of aggression. There are those who yell, there are those who hit effectively but without purpose, there are those who hit rarely but do so with purpose, and there are those who have found the perfect marriage of thought and action. There are also bitches. (I’ve written how to deal with those here.)
To play derby, you have to be aggressive. When a teammate or coach tells you to get more aggressive, they aren’t telling you to be mean. You just need to work on your strategy. Make strong hits frequently and with purpose. When you yell, don’t just yell a player’s name, actually communicate with your teammates what needs to be done.
Does this mean I have my act together? Heck no! One of my captains and I just had a meeting where I was told to be a little less Eenie and a little more Meanie.
Yes, derby players can be nice, while also being aggressive. We should always be assertive, determined and energized.
In my next few posts, I’d like to delve into more misconceptions about derby girls. Leave me a comment with some of the strange things people have said to you when you told them you played.
Also, special shout-out to my readers from Northside Fury who said “hi” after Saturday’s bout. Sorry if I seemed out of it, but my brain momentarily turned into Sally Field and screamed, “You like me! You really, really like me!” Thanks for reading.