In a blur of rainbow colors, thunderous noise, and a lot of shouting – there’s extreme significance in the sport that is known around the world as roller derby. It’s a room full of people who are 100% unapologetically themselves in every aspect of the way. It’s blood, sweat, mascara, and tears as they’re knocking into each other and tumbling around the track, but overall, it’s a big ass party!
However, the last two years have been less of a party for some — including the Vette City Roller Derby in Bowling Green. Like thousands of other people when initial quarantines started, Vette City was at a loss. On top of COVID, there was racial injustice as well as trans violence causing an uproar (as it should) and that’s where Vette City knew they had to do something to make roller derby more accessible for ALL.
This is where Vette City Roller Derby Captain, Soda POP RUCKUS, started contemplating how to end racial and gender disparities and figure out the true barriers that were keeping people from coming to the roller derby table. From this initial brainstorm, the RIDE (Radically Inclusive Diverse and Equity) Committee was born. The first initiative for this Committee was a 2-hour Zoom training on trans inclusivity. The team loved this and found the aspects helpful and were overall pleased with how the first initiative went.
This only made them want to do more! Around this time, some of the members started to part ways and some of the other newly added initiatives didn’t happen as planned. None of this stopped Soda or the trusty people beside her, though! The group really started taking a look at integrating themselves into marginalized areas of their community. “Roller derby is about the empowerment of women and femme-identifying people and enjoying what you’re doing!” Soda exclaimed – this is part of the legacy she hopes to leave behind when her roller derby days are done.
This led me to ask what does roller derby mean to you? Soda stopped and thought deeply for a moment, “It means this is my outlet and escape from this capitalist hellscape. This is the power for me to stand in my own body, the power within each body whether you’re super feminine, tall, short, considered traditionally “beautiful” or not – you have the power to do it.”
It’s a beautiful sentiment because truly every person in this world has felt as if they weren’t “enough” to try something new or to do what they loved. I then asked what does roller derby mean to the queer community? Soda smiles as she describes it as a truly safe space. With a handful of queer team members, it means for people to be and feel appreciated and deeply valued. Vette City has always put the safety of its members over “top talent.” They plan to be vocal and more active about their involvement as well. The goal is to let people know everywhere that there is a place for them in roller derby that’s safe no matter what their identity is.
The initiatives aren’t stopping for Vette City either. The plans for 2022 and moving forward is to work out a scholarship program for skaters, get more actively involved within the community to level the playing field, and hopefully, a work exchange program. They attend BG Pride every year and plan to continue showing their support for all.
“It truly does not matter your age, size, race, gender, sexuality, or any other demographic! Roller derby is a welcoming and empowering space, but most of all it’s FUN!”
The Vette City Roller Derby is kicking ass and you should check out some of the fun stuff they have going on right now. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram at Vette City Roller Derby and meet Soda and the gang on TikTok VetteCityRollerDerby.
Support your local ass-kickers by joining them on the track, volunteering for their bouts, and of course, showing up and cheering them on.