The Albuquerque Roller Derby club at Wells Park provides an inclusive atmosphere to all gender, body types and skill levels, Wrecka Roller Derby – a member of the club – said.
The Albuquerque Roller Derby's competitions are run and supported by skaters. The league sets up their own matches and provides referees for them. The team’s goal is to get out in the community and invite more people to watch and participate in the sport, Wrecka said.
Wrecka has been with the league since 2019 and said they encourage anyone to join; the team lends gear to new skaters and teaches introductory safety skills.
“I was like, ‘Roller derby –, I wanna beat people up,’ but I had no idea that I would find such a community and just an awesome, loving group of people. So that's what's kept me going,” Wrecka said.
Duke Silver Roller Derby, a member of the league, considers himself a veteran of the sport – participating in competitions, becoming a referee and coaching his kids. The community roller derby has fostered is an important part of why he continues to stay involved, Silver said.
“The community is amazing, super welcoming, super non-judgmental. You really can come in and just be anybody,” Silver said.
Roller derby is traditionally a women’s sport, which Silver said that he understands and supports the special space roller derby can create for women.
“That's something I had to come to terms with. Sometimes it's not my turn, and early on in my derby career, that really hurt my feelings. But then, thinking about who's playing – especially watching my daughters play – that was their space. That was their place to be empowered,” Silver said.
Having a space in roller derby for women to feel empowered can be important, but Wrecka said that inclusivity is their ultimate goal. Allowing people of all genders to skate can also be empowering for women as it works towards equality in the sport, Wrecka said.
“I think a lot of leagues are being a lot more open to gender inclusivity … We have found a couple of leagues that are willing to let the boys play, which is awesome. We're just trying to set the stage for inclusivity and be role models. Skates are very much equalizers,” Wrecka said.
Kaynine Roller Derby, one of the league’s newest skaters, started two months ago after watching Whip It – a movie that follows a misfit as they join a roller derby team.
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“It definitely has helped confidence-wise, knowing that even if I get hit, I can always get back up,” Kaynine said. “(I) also feel more confident in my body image because everyone is different … with any type of age, body, gender.”
The team is committed to creating a community on and off the rink. Kaynine said that they are always encouraged by their teammates to skate, watch roller derby and hangout outside of practice – making the learning process much easier.
In addition to providing a community, roller derby has helped Wrecka unwind from rough days as well as supporting her sobriety.
“I joined Derby when I was six months sober and I can honestly say, derby just saved my ass. It was an outlet, it was a community, it was everything I needed to stay on track,” Wrecka said.
Addison Key is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @addisonkey11
Addison Key is a senior reporter at the Daily Lobo and served as the Summer 2023 culture editor. She can be reached on Twitter @addisonkey11.