My friend Roisi likes roller derby. She does not have a local team, so she creates one. She is awesome. Here follows a quick chat with the founder of the Surrey Rollergirls...
Hi Roisi. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm a slightly opinionated, very loud Scottish person. By day I'm a Designer at Supermassive Games. By night I'm a roller derby coach and skater for Surrey Rollergirls.
How long have you been rollerskating and what got you into it?
I had never rollerskated before I started roller derby in 2009, although I had skated inline briefly in my teens, and I did some figure skating before that.
When did you start taking part in roller derby?
Towards the end of 2009. I had learned about it from some advertising for ARRG (Auld Reekie Rollergirls) in 2008 but was way too scared to join. Finally I took the plunge after moving to the Midlands - with the Central City Rollergirls in Birmingham.
How would you explain roller derby to someone who knows nothing about it?
Always such a tough one! I tend to first have to dispel the myth that it is anything like rollerball. My goto comparisons are British Bulldog and rugby on skates, where the ball is a girl, but even that doesn't do it justice. It's a full-contact, highly athletic, all-female sport played on quad rollerskates, and we go from there!
What do you love about roller derby?
It's the first sport that has even remotely interested me to the point where I actually wanted to improve my fitness levels in order to play better. Beyond that, the community is a HUGE draw. It's incredibly inclusive, and the DIY nature of it means that everyone is incredibly supportive of one another and willing to help out new teams, like the Surrey Rollergirls.
What prompted you to put together your own team?
I had finally recovered from a lingering back injury, and after moving to Guildford in Surrey decided that I wanted to start playing derby again. I did some research, but there seemed to be a hole in the South East that wasn't really covered by any teams. The closest, Portsmouth, Windsor and Croydon, are all about an hour away using public transport. So I decided to fill the hole and founded the Surrey Rollergirls!
You've had so much interest in the team - tell us about how it has grown from an idea into something fully formed.
It has been constantly surprising to me just how much support and enthusiasm I have got in such a short space of time. I was fully prepared to have maybe two or three girls interested to begin with, so when fifteen girls turned up to our first meet and greet I was very excited and humbled. From that first meeting, things snowballed from there. We now have around twenty regular skaters, with more interested in joining. We also gained a sponsor in the form of Obsolete Industries, who are dealing with our merch and kit. It is growing from week to week and I'm so excited to see it expand. A personal highlight for me was going to watch a London Rollergirls bout and getting a shoutout for the Surrey Rollergirls read out by the announcers. There were about twelve of us there and hearing everyone around me yell and cheer made me feel like a proper proud mother hen!
Whats been the most challenging aspect of putting together the Surrey Rollergirls?
I thought it would be starting, but it has been keeping track of everything growing so quickly! I had never coached before, so coming up with practice plans has been a challenge. Also, just the sheer amount of work involved. Before we set up our committee, I was easily spending upwards of 20 hours a week on derby stuff on top of my regular job.
You have a fundraiser coming up. Tell us a bit about that.
I'm so excited, as it is Surrey Rollergirls' first public event. We have four bands playing. Cynotia from Gloucestershire, 4hours from London, SR Radio from Guildford and ashestoangels from Bristol. We will also be having a yummy bake sale and a raffle. The proceeds of the raffle will be going to Guildford Action, which is a charity that helps the homeless in the Guildford area.
What would you say to someone who has an idea for a hobby, group or organisation they'd like to put into practise?
Just do it! Don't be scared to ask people for advice and help, and don't think that you can't do it. It might take a lot of work, but if you're passionate about something the reward far outweighs any risks.
Roisi and the Surrey Rollergirls will be having their first fundraiser on 5 April 2012. Learn more here.