I started skating 3 years ago with little no experience in athletics. I climbed the ranks and am now captain of my team the Brawlarinas. One of 6 teams from the second oldest Women's Flat Track Derby Association leagues, AZRD. It is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and is truly full contact with no fights(real or fake). I skate under the Snarles Darwin. Most skaters just call me Darwin. AMA!

My Proof: You can see my team photo here. Snarles Darwin ready to answer your questions.

[UPDATE] Hey guys thanks for all the questions, but I have to go to practice. I will be back on around 7pm Pacific Time for more questions.

[UPDATE] I am back. Ready for more questions.

Thanks so much for all the questions. Hope you learned a little something about roller derby. Enjoy!

Comments: 119 • Responses: 49  • Date: 

MagisterD9 karma

What prompted you to start skating? How do you avoid fights if it's full contact?

devobat11 karma

I saw my first bout and fell in love. It was fast paced and aggressive. The women would take/give massive hits and when the whistle would blow ending the jam, everyone was all smiles and laughs. I wanted to be a part of it. I saw women of every shape and size out there and realized I could play a sport. So I bought skates and cried through my first practice. It was so difficult. I kept falling but I kept getting up.

There are really strict rules, and refs. WFTDA rule set emphasizes safety. If people are playing too rough they get ejected from the bout. There are still rec leagues out there that stage fights but they aren't taken seriously.

Also, we all want to skate, we are athletes. If we hurt each other we can't skate anymore. Also if you are a bag of dicks on the track, no one will want to skate with you. Safety first, don't be a jerk, have fun.

MagisterD1 karma

bag of dicks

LMAO. Don't think that I've ever heard that one before. :)

I watched Roller derby matches when I was a kid. Late 60's early 70's. About the only thing I remember were lots of fights and grudge matches. Glad to see that's not the focus of the current sport.

devobat3 karma

I bet you can find a league near you, you should check them out!

Also, bag of dicks is a great way to call someone a jerk. Not many people would like to be given a bag of dicks.

Astaroth12345 karma

Now what are we referring to when we say "bag of dicks". Are we talking about a plastic bag full of floppy greasy dicks, or a paper grocery bag where they stick out of the top like french baguettes.

Sabin2k4 karma

That second actually sounds quite pleasant.

devobat5 karma

Like a beautiful bouquet of dicks. Maybe add some baby's breath and some lillies. BAM perfect gift for mother's day.

TemptThePuffin2 karma


baby's breath


Oh, but the number of lists you have just been placed on.

devobat3 karma

waves at the NSA I am federally fingerprinted so I am sure they already know my proclivities when it comes to dick bouquets.

devobat3 karma

Floppy greasy dicks, severed dicks. Stuff is pooling at the bottom.

ShellLillian0 karma

Still not OP, but there are rules about fighting, and where you can hit someone with what parts of your body. Soccer and football are also full contact sports.

devobat4 karma

I think there is this stigma that stuck with derby from the 70's. Where it was just women on skates beating the snot out of one another.

But super true, we have legal and illegal target zones.

MagisterD0 karma

Well, yes, there are rules but you still get fights in soccer and football.

devobat2 karma

There is a culture of playing fair in derby. We are still trying to be recognized as a legitimate sport. We have only been (back) around for a little over a decade. To have major leagues condone fighting or egregious contact, would really hamper our efforts to be taken seriously. Seriously check it out. https://youtu.be/zhUi13dU_88 [edit grammar and link]

ian19886 karma

What gear do you have? Is there any differences in gear between male skaters and female skates?

devobat4 karma

I skate on Ridell 495's with revenge plates. Only Radar 93A 62mm wheels, with ABEQ 9 bearings. I use 187 Pro knees/elbow pads, and triple 8 II wrist guards. Most importantly an S1 certified helmet.

Mostly it is all about size and fitting you properly. Everyone has personal preferences for their gear. I like a metal plate because I get more force with it, but some skaters live and die by nylon. To each their own.

The only main difference I see between men and women, when it comes to gear, are helmets. Men tend to need larger helmets and many skate with hockey helmets or even the Bern biking helmets because their sizing is larger. Women seems to stick with the triple 8 helmets(that aren't always certified) or S1. Very few skate with a hockey helmet or a face guard.

Though, I do have to say women's gear smells so much worse than men's. We should wash it more often, but we don't.

ian19880 karma

what about protective gear? are there any gender differences in types of stuff, knee pads, etc?

devobat6 karma

Nope. Larger women use larger pads. Small men use small pads. It is all pretty unisex. Men wear shin guards more often than women, but that is because men play derby like it is football on skates. Full force. [edit typo]

OH guys might wear a soft cup. I am not sure though. I am not one to go ask our MRDA skaters whats up with their junk.

volcano840 karma

ouch please don't tell me you've ever see a dude get kicked in the balls with a rollerskate...ag thatd be rough

devobat2 karma

I have not witnessed it, but I have heard tales. We call it skate rape for a reason. Sometimes you just fall on your own skate or another person's skate. This is how derby babies are born. Also horrible bruises that require you to sit out practice with an ice pack on your crotch.

schmassani2 karma

I fell on a teammates skate wheel once. I didn't think it was bad at the time but within a few days my ass cheek looked like a nebula.

devobat5 karma

I have permanent butt dent on my left cheek from a players plate. I have scar tissue and atrophied muscle. Poor poor butt dents. I totally took pictures each day of the bruise. I was proud of that bruise. It hurt like hell.

mrshernandez095 karma

My husband really wants me to join, but I am terrified!! Were you scared at first?

devobat8 karma

Completely. My first practice was like bambi on ice. I was told we were going to skate as a pack 20+ women at a fast pace for 5 minutes. It is called 25 in 5. 25 laps in 5 minutes.

I fell, I took out half the pack with me. I got up and couldn't catch up. I fell again, the pack caught up to me. I fell again. I started crying. A skater, who is now on my team and I love her dearly, helped me up and said we would do this together. She made me hold onto her waist and pulled me through 17 laps of hell. She pulled me and supported me each time I nearly fell. I continued you cry. When it was over, she told me, that would be the worst time. I would be better next time, and I was.

It got easier, I got better. I then got to help new girls through the same terrifying drills, and that is a humbling experience. You will never forget your first time at practice. How weird and awful it can be. Then you also have this massive smelly family full of women who just want you to skate as hard as you can.


Yes it is scary, but it gets better. Do it for you. Do it for fun. Do it for exercise. but DO IT.

Mosesmann5 karma

Do you listen to Dirty Rotten Imbeciles? I noticed the logo on your shirt looks almost identical to the D.R.I. logo of the man skanking. http://store.beercity.com/mm5/graphics/00000001/DRI_14STICK_300.jpg

devobat2 karma

I do not, but, we actually got permission from DRI to alter their logo and use it as our own. They are big into derby and we are big into punk.

Jayboman665 karma

Do you think you could beat my favorite team the Houston Brawlers? I go see them play every month and those girls are freaking tough.

devobat3 karma

I am not sure, I am not on a travel team but we are pretty competitive! The best part is, it would be Brawlers v. Brawlaz.

seidawg111 karma

I love my Valkyries!

Jayboman661 karma

Speedo is just unstoppable...

seidawg111 karma

Yup. She skates really well. I'm a fan of them all. Syringe, hot assets, freight train (different colored skates). There used to be a blocker that would also song the national anthem. She was fun to watch too.

Jayboman661 karma

Freight train is my hero!

devobat1 karma

That is an awesome name.

Run_bish_ruuun4 karma

So... Where do l learn to skate?

devobat6 karma

My league has a fresh meat group where they taught me to skate. I also did many hours of skating rink time and drive way skating. Find out if a league near you has a fresh meat program or skating lessons.

Run_bish_ruuun3 karma

Cool, thanks for answering! I'm in AZ too & have always wanted to try this! I'm pretty athletic, but I just don't know how to skate. How much money did it cost you when you started ( if you don't mind me asking)?

devobat3 karma

Oh really! There are so many leagues in the valley. I am biased but AZRD is the best. Also HARD in Flagstaff and TRD in Tucson, NAZRD in Prescott, there is even a league in Yuma! PM me if you are in phoenix and you can come watch a practice to see what we do.

I paid about 150 for my skates, and 60 for my insurance(required by WFTDA) and another 50 for my gear. I have been slowly replacing all my gear over the years on top of pay dues. This isn't a cheap sport, but you can find used gear on craig's list.

ShellLillian3 karma

This website might help you out a little with gear to get started. It's best to get your first set of gear used. It will save you a lot of money while you figure out what you like and don't like.

devobat4 karma

Very true. Don't spend a ton on your first set of gear. You will be replacing it soon once you know what you like.

dazhealy4 karma

Forgive my ignorance, I've only ever encountered Roller Derbys through american television shows or pop culture so I don't know a whole lot about the sport. Anyway, is there much in the way of strategy to how teams compete against each other, or how evolved and developed is it? Can you walk us through some examples if there is?

devobat5 karma

There is so much strategy. I am going to do my best to explain it but it is a little difficult.

So a bout is broken into two halves. Each half has any number of jams. Or a segment of game play up to 2 minutes long. Kind of like a down in footbal.

So each team has 4 blockers and 1 jammer. Making 10 skaters on the track. The jammers have stars on their helmets and they score the points by lapping skaters of the other team. The jammers start out behind the blockers. The first jammer out of the pack gets lead jammer status. Which means they can call the jam off at anytime.

So you want your jammer to get lead. So you can either, play offense right at the start and crush the other team's wall to get your jammer out. OR you can play all defense to trap their jammer against your wall and hope your jammer finds their way out.

There is so much strategy. Soul crushing, Rhinos, power jam O, Power Jam D, inverts, pocket blocking, wrecking ball, hammer and nail. It goes on. I linked a youtube video of how competitive the game play is now a days from the Championship bout last season. It is intense.

[Edit added link] http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/3297b4/iama_rollergirl_of_arizona_roller_derby_ama/cq922hv

Also this link, has tons on the strategy in a visual format. http://rdjunkies.tumblr.com/

clayHarvest3 karma

What's the reasons all of the roller derby girls dress/look the same? It seems like Pinup girl meets Emo girl?

devobat5 karma

I wouldn't say that at all. We are very different people, the punk attitude goes with derby because it is a push against the norm. Derby is a space for women to own their sexuality and be confident about their bodies. We just own it.

mariesoleil3 karma

It's not all about fishnets and makeup anymore. Most of us just wear our jerseys with plain leggings.

devobat3 karma

That is true. That is what I wear, because fishnets and tights are hot and give me rink rash.

indeeds3 karma

What did you think of Skyrim?

devobat5 karma

I love it, I play pretty often. PC. You?

indeeds2 karma

I love you.

devobat3 karma

Love you too, sugar bee. finger guns

two_off3 karma

What inspired you to pick that name for yourself?

devobat5 karma

Charles Darwin, I am a science teacher by day and a derby girl by night. Speciation through adaptation. That is what derby is all about. You must be able to adapt to new offense and defense.

I also skate under an alternate name for bouts on other teams, Joan of Snark.

Cykuta3 karma

Hey, non-American here.
I was only just lately acquainted with the idea of roller derby, and obviously it was all second- or thirdhand knowledge, but it all was about how it's a strongly feminist, queer-friendly and overall "girl power" kinda thing. Could you possibly tell me why? I mean, why roller derby, of all things?

devobat6 karma

Of course! This is what I truly love about derby. Back in the 1940's it was a side show act. Women on skates would race and trip each other until there was only one skater left standing. Then a resurgence in the 1970s had women fighting in skimpy outfits. In the year 2001 the first league came back with full force looking to turn that identity on its head.

Roller derby came back a space exclusively for women, though that has changed as we have men's derby and male coaches and refs. But the idea lives on. It is run, played, and organized by women. We are a judgement free zone. We don't care what you look like, where you came from, your gender, sexuality or bra size. What we care about is your willingness to skate.

It attracts women in transition periods of their lives. I think maybe as a way to reinvent themselves. They want a way to break themselves down and get put back together in a tougher more confident way.

It is honestly the only space where I truly feel like me. Where there is zero pressure to be someone I am not. I get to celebrate my body for all that it is. I get to relieve stress and be aggressive in a channeled safe way. I get to be reminded that I am good at something, that my team needs me. I love being a part of something bigger than me.

As for the queer thing. Girls in derby are open minded and accepting and it became a safe place for some many queer folk. Derby loves the LGBTQ community. AZRD will be in the Pride parade tomorrow in Phoenix.

Cykuta2 karma

Thank you for an informative reply, I appreciate it!

devobat2 karma

Of course! I love derby and I want other people to love it too. If you have anymore questions let me know. I would be happy to go into more detail.

marcelineofooo3 karma

I JUST got my first set of skates to start training for roller derby. What can I do (on and off skates) to get better? If you had to guess how many hours a week do you put into practice? Do you have any other advice regarding roller derby?

devobat5 karma

Ok be prepared for a long post.

  1. Squats. Do so many squats. Do squats until your thighs burn. Do wall sits while you brush your teeth. Do squats during commercials on TV. Do squat challenges. Your butt and derby stance will love you.

  2. Get lower. See above.

  3. Invest in good knee pads. Your first year will be a lot of falling. Don't wreck your knees because you didn't cough up the cash for good knee pads. I use 187pro. They are great. The lasted 2 years and just got the slim version because I need less padding now.

  4. Cross train with Roller Derby Athletics videos on youtube. They are fantastic short and can be done on and off skates. Seriously they have a whole series on ankle strengthening. Which you will want to do.

  5. Are you doing squats yet?

  6. Wear your skates around the house. Get used to them. Do chores in them. Make them an extension of your body. I do dishes, laundry and even vacuum my house in them.

  7. Be prepared mentally for failure. Roller Derby isn't always sunshine and unicorns. There are practices where you can't learn a skill and you will feel like crap. There have been plenty of practices I have cried in the card all the way home feeling like crap because I couldn't do a turn around toe stop. So go easy on yourself. Remember no one is good at this sport at first? Very few people get on skates and say, MAN THIS IS EASY! So when you make progress cheer! Look back and say MAN I am awesome. I am playing derby and I just did that turn around toe stop like it was not big thang!

  8. Take care of your personal life. "Sorry, I can't I have derby." Is a phrase that will sneak its way into your vocabulary. Don't say it too much. Missing a practice or a PR event or a derby party will not be the end of the world. But your non-derby friends will miss you. Your family will want to hear what you are up to. So if you just need a night. Then take it. Don't obsess too much.

  9. ? Are we on 9. Yes we are. OK. Watch the WFTDA tv archives. Watch Gotham and Rose City, watch champs, watch everything. Sit down and just watch. Learn the rules and learn the strategy. What makes Scald Eagle amazing? Why is Bonnie Thunders an amazing jammer? watch watch watch.

  10. Learn to watch skaters who are better then you and ask for help. Take that feed back and put it to work. Ask questions and listen.

  11. Loosen your trucks. If your skates are new, they are super tight. You won't be able to turn. Also get new bushings. I don't know why they put such stiff bushings in them. If you don't know what I am talking about, watch a youtube video or go to your local skate shop. Bushings are maybe 2 bucks.

  12. Check your toe stops, they tend to be loose. Also, check your wheels and maintain your skates. Again youtube is a god send for learning how to clean your bearrings(ProTip Don't use water).

As far as how much time I commit? I have 6-10 hours of practice a week depending on the week. 3-4 nights. I am captain I make every practice possible. It is tough. Like tonight. I really didn't want to go, but I am bouting next week and needed to work with my team. Now I am going to spend Saturday night on Reddit while watching Daredevil. You should seriously watch it. It is amazing.

I hope this was helpful. Join /r/rollerderby and say hello. Also let me know how it is going. I love coaching and helping new skaters. I love watching them grow into amazing athletes. :)

marcelineofooo3 karma

Thank you SO much for responding! My boyfriend and I actually just went roller skating tonight and it went much better than I was anticipating. I'm excited because I've already started doing some of these things: watching the WFTDA archives, watching better skaters and asking questions, lurking on /r/rollerderby, squats and wall sits (although reading this posts makes me think I should be doing more).

I appreciate your advice a lot! And I wish I had read 11 and 12 before I went skating tonight, but now I know!

You're awesome! Thank you so much!

devobat2 karma

Hey no worries. We all have to learn somewhere. New bushings in my skates changed the entire way I skated. It was like night and day. Also most importantly, I can't believe I forgot this. Have fun. If derby isn't fun after a while. Something is wrong. I have bad practices, or a bad jam. But in the end I still love it. I am still passionate about it.

adventurepony2 karma

Are the Whiskey Rowlers (i think thats their name, the prescott team) any good?

devobat1 karma

They are indeed! I love them. I skated with them last june. It was blast.

confusion1832 karma

I'm planning on taking up roller derby soon...have read a lot of "what to do/expect" things...so I wanted to ask you, what would you suggest NOT to do or expect?

Also I really respect you for being such a strong sportswoman an ting, hope I can be that good one day!

devobat2 karma

  1. Don't eat a huge meal right before practice. I barfed up sushi once and I was so sad.

  2. Don't get cocky. You are never the best. But do celebrate progress but no one like a show off.

  3. Don't expect to get put on a roster for a team. Sometimes you have to sit out.

  4. Don't invest heavily in gear right away except for knee pads and a helmet. You will figure out what skates and wheels you like after a year or so. Then drop the big bucks.

Thank you! Derby makes everyone strong. Good luck!

GodDanIt2 karma

Whats the best Roller Derby name out there? Lady McDeath is a pretty damn good one.

devobat6 karma

I have a lady MacDeath on my team.

I love 1. The Grave Little Toaster 2. Queen ElizaTits 3. Westward Ho 4. VelociWreckher 5. Dewey Decks'Emall 6. Black and Decker 7. Scald Eagle 8. Pushy Tushy 9. H Face Killa 10. Joan of Snark

PrintError2 karma

We've got Egg McMuff Punch on one of our local teams. There was a DCRG player who tried to go by "Clitty Clitty Gang Bang", but the announcers straight up refused to say that over the PA and she eventually changed it.

devobat1 karma

We had wetback attack and no one would say it either. She is now just maria. Which makes me a bit sad.

skillzdatkillz661 karma

  1. Is there a lot of smack-talk mid during your bouts?
  2. Is there such thing as a 1 on 1 grudge match in roller derby?
  3. Do you have a roller derby playlist you like to listen to?

devobat2 karma

  1. I love to trash talk! I like making folks confused on the line. I like to whisper in blockers ears how they have a pretty mouth. Or stick my nose in the hair and take a long creepy sniff. It throws them off just a little to get a good crush.

  2. Sure. There are plenty of skaters who just dislike each other but it never hits the track. The only 1v1 track play we see is jammer on jammer. That is usually just for a short period of time to gain position.

  3. I don't have a specific playlist. Lots of fast and hard rock. Lots is ska and punk, street light manifesto, propagandi, and some pop. When I unwind I like to listen to pop/dance/house. It is a good way to laugh and dance and have fun. I do get into edm to calm me before a bout.

b18b1 karma

Have you heard of any teams from Des Moines Iowa male or female?

devobat1 karma

No, I haven't but. With a little googlefu, I found this!

b18b2 karma

Check out "your mom" I've heard a lot of buzz related to that team.

devobat1 karma

Your mom is great! They are my favorite MRDA team.

JackBeQuicker1 karma

Have you been in or seen any good fights, or are most of the women more chill than that?

devobat3 karma

Fighting isn't allowed. Women who lose their shit on track tend not to stay very long. I have never seen it. Most women just want to skate, we are all out there giving big hits, and taking them. So getting mad at another skater isn't worth it. We would rather just beat them by scoring points.

holyfruits1 karma

How accurate is Whip It? Is the roller derby culture portrayed in the film faithfully depicted in your experience?

devobat5 karma

Whip It is banked track, I play flat track, on a basketball court or a roller rink. The revival of derby was banked track in texas and is still going strong today.

The learning how to skate and team unity depicted in the film is accurate. The actual game play is NOT. Clothes-lining people, throwing elbows, and tripping are not allowed, nor is diving through the pack face first. If you are bleeding, you cannot skate. Also, NONE OF THE GIRLS WEAR THEIR HELMETS PROPERLY AND IT DRIVES ME INSANE. Sorry, capslock was needed for that momentary rage. Seriously, no ref would let them take the track with those helmets and without mouth guards.

The characters though, are pretty true to form. Women come together and support each other through losses and wins. We work as a team and build one another up. I don't know what I would do with out my league or my team.

[deleted]1 karma


devobat1 karma

I wish! You can watch all the derby you want streaming online. At http://wftda.tv/archives/.

Tournament season is starting up so there is going to be live derby online each weekend.


What's the most clever team name you've seen?

devobat7 karma

I am partial to my own leagues teams:

  1. The Gaudy Lupes(after saint guadalupe)
  2. The Tent City Terrors

There are also the Coffin Draggers, The Brutal Beauties, The Ship Wreckers etc. Most teams have some sort of mash up of tough and cute.

The clever part are the derby names. I could go on and on about how amazing the name Stone Cold Jane Austen is or Scald Eagle or The Grave Little Toaster. I mean seriously derby girls are witty.


Stone cold Jane Austin is brilliant.

devobat3 karma

Pretty much, she is a professor at ASU and runs the ASU derby devils. The second college derby team.

FryingFaith1 karma

One time I saw a gril ont the MTV programe "Made" who also wanted to join the arizona roller derby. Do you know anything about this?

devobat1 karma

I didn't know. I will look into this!

dsiddall0 karma

Do a lot of the girls take a long time to do their hair and makeup only to have it be messed up real quick ?

devobat3 karma

Boutfits. There are some girls who do tons for their boutfit: fishnets, booty shorts, hair makeup... the works. It is a badge of honor to have messed up makeup, it means you worked hard, got sweaty and hip checked some ladies. All skaters smell bad and have gross helmet hair in the end so it is a moot point for me.

Then there are skaters like me, who prefer athletic capris, and my uniform shirt. Sometimes I might do some black stripes under my eyes or wear some booty shorts, but I am all about feeling comfortable when I am on my skates.

Have you ever fallen wearing fishnets at high velocity? It gives the worst rink rash.

rastel0 karma

Do you folks ready hurt each other or is it more theatrics and the injuries are cause the act didn't go as expected?

devobat3 karma

Well there isn't an act, in most leagues. It isn't like wrestling it is all real. Injuries happen. Ankles get broken, tendons torn and lots and lots of bruises.

rastel1 karma

I saw or experienced roller derby many years ago (in the 1970's) and thought it neat. I think there is a team here in DC but it is not published much or at leat in the stuff I read. Good luck with your career and thanks for answering my question.

devobat2 karma

No problem! DC has a great league. You should check them out.

yahoo540 karma

Who wins in a fight: A badass rollergirl or a somewhat small guy rollerhockey player?

devobat2 karma

Depends if they are on skates and if they are hip checking with derby rules. I can't throw a punch, so I would probably lose if it was an actual fight. Though, if I could get in for a full body check things might change.

hawaiifive0h-3 karma

Percentage wise, how many lesbians per team..?

devobat5 karma

Not sure that is super relevant but, on my team out of 29 skaters, 4. While derby is queer friendly it doesn't mean we are all gay.

yeahboiitsme-7 karma

How do you feel about aggressive inline skaters? Is their sport as invalid as roller derby?

ShellLillian6 karma

Yay for loaded questions based in ignorance!

Not OP, but a former derby skater. Aggressive inline skating is really cool! And derby is a 100% legitimate sport and you should check out a game to see for yourself! Chances are there's many leagues in your area and probably a WFTDA member league nearby!

devobat5 karma

Thanks! Where did you skate?

ShellLillian1 karma

Orlando, for a couple of different leagues.

The biggest local league was a drama fest and my knees are busted so I stopped. Hoping to start up again eventually.

devobat3 karma

Injuries are the worst. I think the worst is being injured and watching your team skate without you. Don't give up on derby because it won't give up on you. Ref, NSO, cheer your skaters on!

devobat5 karma

What do you think makes it's invalid?[edit grammar][edit spelling I am bad at this.]