The most important thing when you sign up for roller derby is knowing how to skate. Whether you can take a hit and stay on your wheels is another obstacle, but being able to stand up and move forward on skates is a good first step – or glide.
But next in line is having the right gear. So we stopped into Spank Alley Skate & Board Shop to see what it takes to be outfitted for a career in roller derby. Sure, it’s mostly a women’s sport, but there are men’s leagues out there. Although to be perfectly clear, we don’t have any intention of joining one, but if you want to we’re here to help.
Spank Alley also carries stuff for skateboarding and longboarding, but this is the roller derby issue so we’ll stick to that. If you’re going to compete in a league that’s goverened by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, which Granite State Roller Derby is, there’s a checklist of gear you need to have before bruising your way around the track.
Of course, you need skates. They must be what is known as a quad skate, which is when the four wheels are in two sets of two – not those inline ones that rollerbladers use. Then it’s all about safety.
You need a helmet because if you’re going to be out on the track with nine other skaters crashing into each other, it’s probably a good idea to protect that very important and irreplaceable brain you’ve got. The same goes for a mouth guard. Those pearly whites won’t look that great all chipped and broken.
“Knee and head injuries are the two most common for roller derby,” said owner Melody Broider.
And since there’s a chance you could take a tumble at just about any time, elbow and knee pads, as well as wrist guards, are required.
Now Broider doesn’t recommend going out and buying all the latest and greatest equipment before really knowing if roller derby is for you, even if it means more money in her pocket.
Granite State Roller Derby offers lender gear for the first three weeks, and then if you decide to keep going with the sport, you need to buy some of your own.
Sure, you can spend a month’s mortgage on the best stuff, but for about $180, you can get all the equipment we just talked about in a starter kit. You can still choose from a couple of different looks and brands, but it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. It will just protect them.
“For that first season, use your starter gear, then if you want to stick with it, upgrade,” Broider said.
And once you realize that roller derby is the thing that’s been missing from your life, then you can upgrade to some fancy new stuff. You should see all the different wheels they make.
“I want some-one to come in and get something that will last,” Broider said.
Broider also offers a 12-week learn to skate class, another class that runs eight weeks called Fit-You, which is basically zumba on skates, and an eight week roller derby class. The next ones don’t start up till September, but it’s never too early to sign up.
For more, check out spankalleyskate.com.