The Correlation Between Roller Derby and Academia

I know this sounds nuts, but hear me out here. Previous to beginning playing roller derby at the age of 20, I had a very checkered academic past. My teen angst always led to me refusing to work with uncooperative teachers and blowing off homework because I didn’t feel like completing the assignment. I did have the capacity to do well, I just thought that other things were more important for some reason. Fast forward to a 23 year old Crusty starting at community college after dropping out of art school 5 years earlier. I am on time for class. I am always prepared. I seek out constructive criticism. I email professors to keep a dialogue going. I am taking a stupid large course load and managing to stay afloat and even excel. My academic path is going in an entirely different direction because of you guessed it, playing derby!

Through skating over the last few years I have had to amend how I handled situations in order to be a better teammate and a more effective league member. I have had to find weaknesses in myself and address them (which is an annoying but necessary feat). Here is a listing of skills I have grown through roller derby that help me as a student:

  • Seeking out constructive criticism. Once an unwanted interaction, I am now so excited to receive constructive criticism. Please give me your feedback so I can know how to better myself in all walks!

  • Respectfulness. I have learned to give attention to whomever is speaking. As opposed to letting my inner dialogue run amok, I’m able to focus now on someone who is trying to educate me on something I know squat about.
  • Promptness. Being tardy means being poorly prepared. You need to let your muscles warm up as opposed to jumping in and potentially getting injured. I am now always (mostly, sometimes my car throws a fit) on time especially in my math class to center myself for the brain beating I am about to receive.

  • Communication. In working together with your league mates and board members it is essential to keep in touch because sometimes life happens. Unintimidated, I am able to keep that conversation going with my professors.

  • Accountability. Very rarely in this semester have I skipped homework or blew off a test because I didn’t feel like it. In high school, I skipped class on a very regular basis and my grades suffered. I couldn’t have cared less. Now I care very, very much. I want to do well. I want to smash everything that told me I could never do well.

  • Celebrating small victories. This one is huge for me. Before skating, I was never able to celebrate the little things that swell up and make life great. The quiet internal voice spouting encouragement has become a booming shout with a megaphone. Utilized footwork you never thought possible, even if for a couple of steps? “That was SO COOL do it again!” Made a jammer work for it? “YEAH SELF!” Get a higher grade than anticipated on a test? “It’s time for me to take you out for pizza!”


    All of these things were a black void of nonexistence until becoming an active skater. Derby has made me think very seriously about my skill goals, and that mindset has transferred over to my everyday life. I want to do better because I know I can. I know I’m worth more than I had ever given myself credit for. I have faith in myself and I trust myself to succeed (if only by my own standards) which is nothing I have ever been able to do before. My derby brothers and sisters have shown me what it is to love your team, and what it is to love and respect yourself. I’m so thankful for you little weirdos and the path you have all helped me find.

Tons of love from clown town,

Crusty #314

P.S. If any of these new found skills change in the coming semesters, I’ll kindly redirect myself to this post to get jazzed about academia again.

Posted on March 28, 2016 .