Roll Bounce Gang

About a month or so ago, I watched the movie “Roll Bounce.” So first off, if you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend watching it. Be warned though… it may make you want to start a Roll Bounce Gang. Or maybe not. But just be warned.

I grew up skating at Lloyds Roller rink in Calgary, AB, and I am lucky enough that it is still around. It is still the place to be if you wanna get your roll on. And it still has the same decor and disco balls from when I used to frequent the rink in the 80s. I take the kids there once a week, and now I go by myself one night a week as well. Why you ask? To start a roll bounce gang of course.


This was my first game ever in 2010, and it was the first time I ever jammed. Holy shitsnacks was I ever nervous. I did not love it.

I have decided that this year is the year that I am going to jam. I will jam and block, but I will be intentionally working on my jamming skills and never turn down an opportunity to jam and learn. So in my quest to build my jam skills, I approached a good derby friend and asked him for some mentorship. He is an old school jam skater who naturally fell in to the jammer role once he found derby. And he can roll bounce like nobody’s business.

I met with him last Monday night, and he skated around with me and chatted about the art of jamming, along with the art of roll bouncing. A fast song comes on and he says, “just follow me as close as possible, and do what I do.” All my trust was put in him to lead the way as we whipped around that rink rolling, bouncing, dodging roller rink patrons and narrowly squeezing through people who leave an inch for us to get by. It was terrifying, and yet invigorating. We were flying… and I wasn’t scared.

I feel like it’s important to say that this kind of skating is not done full of derby gear. As someone who has skated my entire life at Lloyds, I have never worn gear there. In fact, the only time I wear gear is when I’m playing derby, practicing derby, or skating outside. I don’t skate derby at roller rinks…. I skate differently. I have caution, control, and maybe even a little bounce. I dance and sing, and that is just how I roll. So the terrifying part comes from this. I was not ready for a fall, and I made damn sure a fall didn’t happen. But that meant taking risks and working on one foot balance and agility, and stops. Oh the stops. You must be able to stop (or change direction) on a dime if you don’t want to fall at a roller rink.

And this is the beginning of our roll bounce gang journey. We skate in a line, all rolling and bouncing in sync, grinning from ear to ear, and all relying on the person in front of us to guide us safely around the rink and between the other skaters. I love it. And this is part of my journey to becoming a jammer. And how I fit derby in my life, even if it’s not technically derby.


Derby can fit your life

For the past 5+ years of playing derby, one thing has been abundantly clear in my mind. Derby is life. There is no need to fit derby in to my life, because frankly, derby is my life, and everything else will have to work around this. As a mom (single for the majority of that time), it’s not an easy task to build a life around derby. I would schedule all of my kids’ activities based on my derby schedule, and book family vacations around tournaments, and generally just make it work the best I could.

No, my kids didn’t suffer. They all got to do their sports and hang out with me, and did have a present mom. That said, they were also rink rats, and I brought them to most of my derby activities too. Basically, derby was just part of our life as a family, and they got to witness their mom being a strong, powerful, “I take no shit” woman. I think there is a valuable lesson in that.

My “derby is life” method of involvement worked really well for me for just over 5 years. It worked until real life happened and fucked all my shit up. My teenagers began getting in to a lot of trouble (like, A LOT), and my littles went to stay with their dad for 1 year. They have a new baby sister at his house, and felt the need to go live with her for a little bit. It’s complicated. But basically, our schedule completely changed, and it no longer could fit with my derby. I have my littles almost every weekend now, so practices, games and tournaments are challenging for me, particularly because my league at the time practiced every weekend. My teenagers needed to go in more activities, and I had to commit to taking them. This also interfered with my 2 weeknight practices. I thought I had to quit derby, but then I realized that was never going to be an option. So instead, I found a way to make derby fit in to my new version of life.

So now I skate with a new league every Tuesday night, and that is my one night that I get to have just for my derby. I go to Muay Thai with my oldest teen on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, which is amazing, and I think it’s going to help my derby game immensely. I coach my step-daughter and her roller derby team on Thursday nights. And I also started skating at Lloyds Roller rink every (or maybe every second) Monday to get some private coaching to be a jammer. I’m calling it our Roll Bounce Gang, and basically we jam skate super fast and work on agility and confidence… all while roll bouncing of course. I am a lucky person to have someone mentor me in my quest to jam. And lastly, I am coaching my old team, the Cut-Throat Car Hops! This means that I will have another opportunity (even if it’s just once a month) to work on strategies, and put some rad drills to use.

Alright, here’s the point. Basically, I have found a way to make derby work for me, instead of the other way around. By pulling resources from 3 different leagues and working on physical strength etc., with my kids, derby can fit in my life. In fact, it is fitting in my life! I can still be just as intense, focused, and confident, even with all the added kid time and stress. And you know what? It feels good. I like this new version of derby. It’s going to be a good season.