Derby names and numbers are a sacred rite of passage for any derby girl. In fact our coaches Leigh-thal Bizzle and Little Miss Chief have an unwritten rule for new skaters that names and numbers come after they (FM) have decided they want to stick with it, are working hard towards passing minimum skills and rules test, and most importantly dedicate their time and commit to the team. It is fine to think about it, throw some ideas about, numbers are usually important for when they have a trial scrim between themselves to get used to penalty calls and so on and so forth.
This subject has come up a lot as our FM have started to reach a more comfortable stage in their training and abilities. Discussions on using real names, playing on their names, picking something hardcore, picking something punny, various routes to go down when choosing a name. I have seen some fantastic names – take for instance one of my teammates whose last name is Palmer, she chose to call herself “Palmer Violent” – a fantastic play on both her name and a well known brand of sweet. Many FM struggling with what to call themselves, hoping and praying for an amazing name that makes them sound badass yet cute… it is one of the hardest decisions to make as a new skater. Your name does eventually become your identity and other leagues will know you by this name – think about it, outside of your own league, how many roller derby girls do you know who you can safely name by their real/government names? Take for instance Bonnie Thunders, I never knew her real name, she is Bonnie Thunders. In fact Bonnie herself stated in an interview once that Bonnie is not her alter ego, just an embodiment of who she is, that her “normal” and derby selves are the same person. When starting out girls believe their derby name to be their alter ego, they believe that when the skates go on the derby comes out. But Clark Kent, is always Superman, and Superman is always Clark Kent.
I think the derby name is a quiet lesson, something you do not realise is happening until you take a step back and look at the bigger picture – you start out as a wide eyed lady thinking that in normal life you just blend into the background but when you are Bonnie Thunders Mk2 you are so full of confidence and feel like a superhero. But over time you come to think that derby is spilling out in to your normal life, you find yourself looking at life in a derby perspective.
To quote Bettie Rage: “Do you ever sit at work and daydream about putting on your skates and helmet and just body checking the hell out of everyone”
Generally – this is the moment you realize the derby monster has taken over your life. But it is also the moment you start to learn that your alter ego isn’t someone else, not just the “Hulk” that comes out of you when you get to the hall, it is something buried deep down inside you that has always been there. Derby and your name simply offer you an outlet for this. Think about it – would you ever have the confidence to stand your ground the way you hold a wall? How often do you analyse and put together a strategy the way you do when looking for a way through the pack? How often do you set goals for self improvement outside of roller derby, and even work to achieve them? The amount of things you do as your derby persona which can help improve you as a person and improve the way you function or look at things in normal life is ever expanding. Think about it, if you looked at things in a derbyverse way – what could you do?
It leads me onto my name and number. Now I panicked and chose a name which I originally lived up to, but has now become a deceptive name. (I wish I could pass this off as a planned mind game, but I seem to do well when I do things by accident!) I am still not quite happy with my name, but I have stuck by it so far. Maybe one day I will make a change?
My derby name is Hollycidal Violation. A play on homicidal violation and my name. Holly. I don’t know why I chose this name. I am still not entirely happy with it and have just learned to live with it really! It has however worked out ok I guess, after looking at my name many expect me to be a hard hitter rather than a quick agile skater which has worked out a plus. Some skaters stepped away at the start to keep “out of my path” which simply helped in opening a hole up for me to slip through. Now… originally when I first started and the adrenaline was pumping I ended up in the penalty box a few times, and I have been seen coming out of the penalty box to make a swift return within seconds of being on track. It is not a regular occurrence, as of late I have managed to avoid the sin bin which I have felt very positive about. Looking back I could have put more thought into the choice, maybe something funny or a play on another name, for instance I thought about another Holly derby name the other day “Holly Killoughby” – any Holly’s need a derby name – the first one is free!
I think the post on Derby names by Elektra Q-Tion is something every new skater should read and be aware of before making this decision. As she points out, yes some skaters change their names after a few seasons – but why should you need to? If you choose the right one then you don’t have to go through the stress of picking a new name, registering it (which takes forever) but you also won’t be stopping other girls from having a possible name – come on, how many times have you thought of an AMAZEBALLS name then found it on TwoEvils? Could that have been avoided? Maybe.
My favorite part of her post is the offensive and family associations surrounding your name. Many of our players are mums and have young kids that come to see us along with families and members of the general community so offensive names are a no go, we even have it written into our team forms that names must not reflect badly on the team etc. Heck – if we want more people to take to the sport, we don’t want to turn people off because our skaters have names that offend and upset people!
Otherwise numbers are fairly simple. At first glance. We are currently allowed up to 4 as a number. Originally my number was H2B0 which is a play on my first and last names but also H20. It seemed like a smartypants decision at the time, but then it started to suck. I had to explain it all the time, referees would call it wrong – the amount of times I would hear “White, #280”. Dammit. So when I joined the Misfits, I changed it to number 626. Relating to my obsession with Lilo & Stitch in which Stitch is experiment 626. Easy to read, easy to call, hardcore Disney fans who remember original Disney films (pre-High School Musical etc) love it.
I guess that pretty much sums up my thoughts on the matter. The one funny thing about my name though?
Atlanta Rollergirls. #1013. Hollicidal.
During a particular WFTDA game a few weeks ago when the feed meant my teammates lost the video but could still hear the audio, happened to hear that “Hollicidal was on the jam line.” Prompting slight confusion as my name is shortened in practice for the sake of shouting it out to “Hollycidal” or “Cidal.” Though it threw everyone off for a moment, but it also gave us all something to have a laugh about at the next practice.
I would like to point out that I started in 2008, my name was officially registered in 2009. So to you, Hollicidal of the Atlanta Rollergirls whose website states you started in 2010 – on the extremely minimal bazillion-to-1 chance we ever meet – please please please don’t think I stole your name and kick my butt! You are an awesome skater to watch. Don’t kill me. Please? Maybe one day I will make a change!