Why all derby leagues should have their juniors too.

11

July 27, 2013 by alinedecat

Having some hesitations about opening your league to junior teams? Read this. Not only have they invented wheeled cuteness, they’re capable of way more than expected on the track.

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Nora (6), Blackland Teenage Terrors.
Picture by Bicky Monkey

1. For the kids

Kids play roller derby. They just play. If you have never seen a junior bout or scrimmage, let me describe it in a few words.

Besides the game itself that can be as much of a nailbiter than any adult bout you will ever see, including fast and mastered skating, impressive hits and advanced strategies, the most noticeable thing in a junior bout is definitely the fun you feel. I mean, real, true, simple, huge, fat F.U.N. Everyone in the place is smiling. Especially the skaters themselves. They’re glad to be there, happy to play, proud when their team does something good, and wowed when the opposing team does. The benches are quiet and focused, they listen to their coaches and do not argue. Neither do they yell at officials, or curse out loud. They’re just trying to do their best on the track.

And that is actually how every game should be, whatever the age of the players. Yes, we can learn from those kids.

Blackland Teenage Terrors Picture by Bicky Monkey

Blackland Teenage Terrors
Picture by Bicky Monkey

2. For the coaches

Kids are the greatest coach trainers. If you can keep it simple, they will get it straight away. When adults usually have a lot of questions, sometimes even quite irrelevant, because all of them interpreted what you just said differently, kids will just hear what you said, and if they happen to have twisted questions, it will probably be because their brain is manipulating the information you just gave twice as fast, and right now they’re already one thought or two ahead of you.

3. For your supporters

What is the easiest way to make people interested -I mean madly into- in a sport they don’t know or do not really care about? Drag their kids into it. This is how a quiet, non-athletic and sedentary mother of three can turn into a loud, rageous and proud supporter who will follow her kids’ team wherever they go and play, cheering the hell out of herself from the front row to encourage her little wheeled rascals.

And when you will need someone baking cupcakes for a fundraiser, she’ll be glad to help, and proud to become an active member of what her kids are henceforth obsessed with.

And when the oldest turns 15 and starts to show more and more interest in the adult teams, guess who will be at all your own team’s bouts, with the whole family, cheering like you were already THEIR team? Because at that point, as a matter of fact, in their hearts, you will be.

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Blackland Teenage Terrors’ Halloween Co-ed Scrimmage.
Picture by Bicky Monkey

4. For your officials

And this is how the kids’ activity becomes a family passion. Give their parents an official role, make them NSO or even maybe referees, you will gain some really dedicated officials, and you know how precious those are, and they will be rewarded with some serious responsabilities and the pleasure of helping their kid improve his(or her) game and their kid’s beloved sport becoming bigger and bigger.

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Kiara (13) and Lauréline (12), both fierce Blackland Teenage Terrors

5. For your team

Think about a 9-year-old who received rollerskates for her birthday. That kid would probably have been skating around for a while, and eventually it would become less and less, especially when highschool time has come, and the points of interest radically change at that age.

Now imagine, that instead of letting it go, at the age of 12, she discovers roller derby, and guess what, there is a junior team that is being started in her town at that time. Instead of leaving rollerskating aside, this kid litterally chose to dive twice deeper into it.

Now she is 15. Three years from now, I bet most of you will still be playing roller derby, and when she turns 18, and will be able to play in the adult team of your league, she will have been rollerskating for half her life and playing derby for 1/3 of it. And that is what you will call a freshmeat in 2016. She litterally grew up on skates into derby. Can you imagine how the general level of a team can make a leap forward with that?

Elisa (14) jamming for the Blackland Teenage Terrors
Picture by Bicky Monkey

6. For roller derby

I cannot believe I still hear people arguing about the fact that roller derby is too tuff for kids, do these people say the same to parents whose kids learn karate, rugby, or american football? Come on, we know how to play it safely, with an adequate skating level (see my entry about minimum skills), and yes, even despite this, some injuries will occur, but that happens in sports, I personnaly broke my wrist twice in figure skating and my ankle once because of horse riding, and I don’t think these sports are considered violent. Injuries in roller derby? None so far.

Also, refusing access to roller derby under a certain age is a nonsense when we are all fighting for the recognition of roller derby as a real sport. When so many other sports are proud to affirm they’re open to anyone willing to step in, why is roller derby still suffering from lame restrictive clichés like “girls sport” or “not for children”? Let’s smash those and show how open derby is!

Ines (11) & Marie (10) also Blackland Teenage Terrors
Picture by Rrose Selavy

7. For the Blackland Teenage Terrors (our very own juniors from Charleroi, Belgium, attached to the Blackland Rockin’K-Rollers)

Because it’s very hard for European juniors to find teams to bout. So if you’re a junior team willing to bout the Blackland Teenage Terrors, please contact us at rollerderbycharleroi [a] gmail.com !

Jules (9), Nora (6) and Lilou (7), Blackland Teenage Terrors. Nora and Lilou are also Derbywifes.

Jules (9), and newly wed derbywifes Nora (6) and Lilou (7), Blackland Teenage Terrors.
Picture by Bicky Monkey.

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11 thoughts on “Why all derby leagues should have their juniors too.

  1. Karen says:

    When I laid my eyes on the 1st set of junior players I was like “oh God!” Little girls should not be dressing in fishnets and clothes like that. (Was not a serious league) then I went to a tournament and saw the serious Junior leagues and the girls were in athletic apparel and their skill level was something to marvel at! I found myself waking up early(anytime before 11am is early for me) to make it to the venue to watch the Juniors. And looking at the future of this sport, we NEED juniors who have been skating for as long as they have to continue to take this sport further.

  2. Dell From Hell says:

    My name is Dell From Hell. After my daughter was picked up by the Seattle Derby Brats (2010) I started my training as a skating official thru SDB. 3 years later I am a WFTDA Level 2 Certified Referee for the Jet City Roller Girls. My Daughter just got drafted by SDB’s Galaxy Girls (The highest level of JR Derby for SDB). These young ladies are elite athletes and their skill level rivals many of the adult leagues I officiate for. “THE FUTURE OF DERBY IS NOW” Support JR Derby!!!

  3. Skater says:

    Except when there’s 3 other leagues in town that all have junior programs and will say you’re trying to steal their juniors. :/

  4. CP Scott says:

    If there’s any question about the athleticism of Juniors, just point them to video archives like The Big O tournament (Portland, Oregon, US) this year. It’s a lot of fun to watch these teams skate!

    I-5 Roller Girls and Kitsap Derby Brats.

    I-5 RG v Emerald City Junior Gems

  5. E Liminate-HER says:

    Those little chicks are FREAKING AMAZEBALLS!

  6. Bell Holder says:

    Yes more Juniors!! My daughter, T-Rex, fell in love with derby when I started and would put on skates and gear and skate on the outside of the track trying to do everything we did. My team finally started a juniors about 4 months ago, and I couldn’t be prouder of my daughter or my team. But we totally need more juniors to play with!!

  7. Pink Pummel-Her says:

    Juniors bring an enthusiam that is contagious to the adult skaters that support them and coach them. Our adult skater performance has improved due to additional time on the track demonstrating and teaching the younger skaters. The adults get immediate positive feedback from seeing juniors improve and it motivates both of them in many positive ways!

  8. melissawadey says:

    My god those girls are amazing! I wanna be them!

  9. This American Strife says:

    All great reasons. Can you please tell us a bit about the practical, business side of teaching juniors, though? What sorts of insurance, licensing and background checks do you need as a league/as coaches to be able to offer a sports program for children?

    • alinedecat says:

      Hello!
      Well, I can only tell how it works in Belgium so far…
      Here is how it goes: our league is affiliated to FBFP which provides, amongst other advantages, full insurance for all our members. I think the equivalent in the US is USARS, but I’m not really 100% sure.
      For the background and licencing, we have ADEPS (administrative service of the Ministry of the French Community of Belgium charged with the promotion of sport and physical education amongst the population of the French-speaking community) that offers to pass official tests that are general to all sports, and specific tests to some sports, depending on the related federation. Roller Derby being very new, we’re currently helping our federation (FBFP) to create those specific tests, but we already passed the general ones, and I passed the specific ones for ice skating, which is not the same, of course, but probably the closest so far.
      I’m not sure this will help you a lot, if I were you, I’d contact JRDA, they will probably be able to answer all these questions, and they’re adorable. Good luck, tell me if you created a junior league! xxx

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