Rockin’ Community: Central KY Roller Derby Team fostering a place for LBGTQIA

My first real look at roller derby was what I consider to be the cult classic “Whip It,” a combination of bad-ass body slams and young people finding both happiness and the strength to stand in their truth. I felt so empowered by the charm of this coming-of-age film focused on finding oneself with the support of an athletic community.

When I first moved to Lexington, KY, a friend mentioned going to a roller derby game hosted by ROCK (Roller Derby of Central Kentucky). Since then, I have been an avid follower, intrigued not only by the sheer athleticism of this team, but by all they stand for.

ROCK has been a team since 2006 and is a proud member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). ROCK is a 501c3 nonprofit, focused on improving community. They work with local businesses and charities to enhance the fabric of this unique city that is Lexington. Being a highly athletic group, they commit to daily trainings in order to turn out an amazing sporting experience for spectators. If you look at their Instagram (@rollerderbyofcentralkentucky), you can tell not only are they dedicated to the sport, but they are always willing to put on a good show. 

A group of people posing for a photo

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These athletic communities aren’t just about show. ROCK cares for their community by creating inclusive spaces of community for LBGTIQA+ individuals. I spoke with Catherine Zamarron (Catastrophe #829), who just came out of retirement to join ROCK, the third team she has skated with. For Catherine, community means support. She explained the derby’s role in helping her come out as queer.

“That’s what it is about roller derby that made me feel safe enough to come out in the first place — people who are happy to let me be my authentic self, with our without expectations or caveats. Loudly or quietly. At any given time, I know I can find support for just about anything from my teammates. They’re probably the best group of people in my life.”

Further, she explained “I still, 16 years later, remember the first time a skater asked me ‘are you part of the family?’ and I was able to say ‘yes!’ without hesitation or fear.”

ROCK’s team is a mix of LGBTQIA+ people and allies, and Cat explained that she and others feel safe to express themselves without fear of judgement. “The team itself has a strong, loud stance on being supportive of the LGBTQIA+ community and in my experience, they’re making good on that stance.” This fierce camaraderie creates a feeling of both emotional and physical safety within the team, empowering players to be fully themselves while getting their sweat on. ROCK is a shining example that roller derby is a place for everyone.