Derby Unicorns

Do you know who designed the flier for your last bout? Or who made up the program? Or who booked the venue, arranged the ticket sales, updated the website, put your name on the IBRF (do you know what the IBRF is?), advertised your debut on the radio, put up fliers, took down those fliers, arranged interviews with the local campus, announced your bout, refereed your team, took down stats for paperwork (which means your league can remain WFTDA), put together your gift packet, made contact for your travel bout, or arranged your NSOs?

If you answered “yes” to the above, please enjoy this faery-kitten and move along:


Did you answer “no?”

Find them. Be one of them. At least know who they are, because they made this happen for you.

Did some mysterious derby unicorns train up the new girls, gather equipment for beginners, arrange everything down to the bucket of temporary tattoos in your locker room, put your headshot on something, make all those awards, or take that picture you are using as your header pic on FaceBook? The scoreboard doesn’t magically update itself, does it? The stats are manufactured out of thin air, right? Where did these mystical beasties come from? KNOW.

Join the secret legion of unicorns.

Thank them. They’re your league-mate, or an injured skater who still wants to be a part of this machine, or a derby widow, or a new girl, or a superfan. Without you telling them that their efforts are appreciated, they will fade away. It is apparently much easier to say “you’re doing it wrong” than it is to just say “thank you!”

Everyone loves love and about zero* people like to have someone screaming in their face.

If you deign to complain about anything on your league, literally anything, let me tell you a secret: you can change it. That’s the magic of “grass-roots:” as long as you’re being reasonable and put your time in, things can be just as you imagined. It’s a “we,” not a “them;” an “ours” not a “theirs.”

Roller derby is a machine and it has lots of parts. Machines only work when all of those parts function in unison. It is a team sport in every imaginable aspect. It’s not smoke and mirrors; it’s people doing things for the greater good. What is a grass-roots movement without participation? Woodstock ’99, that’s what (it was a terrible time, children).

If you don’t like something and you don’t actually know the amount of absolutely time-consuming effort that went into training for a position, designing something, arranging something, then probably don’t write a scathing email or talk mad shit.  You don’t know what you’re talking about and you are shitting on someone who decided to take their own spare time and use it for you. It’s not just someone knowing about a secret button and pressing it and out pops your bout; it’s loads of people foregoing sleep, obsessing over details, and trying to make something perfect for you out of love.

Find out how that thing works, get involved, help out, make polite suggestions, ask questions, get in there, be a part of it. This is your sport. This is your league. This is our hobby. Make it wonderful out of love for your sport and your league. It is all about you, but you are part of us. Let’s make it awesome together.

*rough estimate


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22 Responses to Derby Unicorns

  1. B. Friendly says:

    Teammate Janie Jawbreaker says… “So, according to this awesome gal, my childhood dream of becoming a unicorn has actually come true. Yay.” 😀

  2. Romo says:

    I love this. My wife is a unicorn. So is Bone Picker. And Disco. And Suzi. And Splat’em. And and and and and and…..

    • Sleazer says:

      My list is so long… but Maple and Felon and Fitzi and Sugar and Gram and Blondie and SurReal and Pomme and Thugz and Doc and St. Charlie Brown and Roxy and Hugh and Frankenzeeb and Mutant Gene and Ken and Scummy… and and and!

      You look a lot like a unicorn, too, Romo 😉

  3. Terry says:

    Oh my lord yes! Couldn’t have said it better myself. I have walked away from two teams since I started with derby in 2010 because of this very problem. It was always like they were doing me a favor by letting me bust my ass on their behalf. Appreciation is everything.

  4. Big Ton says:

    The Derby Brothers are Unicorns!

  5. AquaticBat says:

    I’m in a small league, we’re all unicorns in one way or another. Go Unicorn Pack!

  6. Akka says:

    this is rad! i shall be sharing!

  7. Final CuntDown says:

    This is just what I needed. Thank you.

  8. Toxic Rockit says:

    FANTASTIC! Just shared with my entire league!

    Thanks for putting this together, you sexy unicorn!

  9. Gory B Movie says:

    Great post!

  10. Rock Star Skater says:

    I am so glad I found this as I am so dedicated to derby and keep hitting a wall with high school type bs in my area…..Does this include kicking someone off the team because they are a better skater? Or canceling practice 10 minutes after it has started for weather reasons on a beautiful clear day and instead bellying up at the local bar…. while the competitive skaters who have taken the time, got a babysitter, spent gas money, sacrificed their free time to actually PRACTICE only to have the Coach be boozing it up and making a joke about it?

    Some of us practice every day on our own, work our asses off to be the best we can only to be smacked down for it by the local derby team…or hen party as there is no appreciation for actual REAL derby!

    • Sleazer says:

      Well, the initial post could not possibly be aimed at yourself or people like you describe…

      This… sounds like fucking lunacy, from where I stand. Like… the very idea would never have crossed my mind. The good news is, from what I hear, leagues that act like that don’t last long (as you might imagine). Have you approached your executive board and said something along the lines of “it would be super if you didn’t allow people to be screwed over by the whims of these people?” If that isn’t possible, and there isn’t another one nearby and/or you haven’t signed a non-compete clause, take the real people and start a real league. I know it’s terrible, but don’t get discouraged. If you have no leaders, sometimes you have to become such. Not optimal by any means… several of the leagues I have worked with started with just enough girls to make a charter and self-taught, but now that things have taken off, it should be a bit easier. Depends on where you are. That would make you a double unicorn, which is a hard life, but you end up double rockstar in the end.

      I think there are a lot of people who want to wear the badge of “derby girl” without having earned it. Attending one or two beginner lessons then popping in for a headshot doesn’t mean you play a sport, right? That’s like taking a semester of college and claiming to have the degree!

      Sorry you’re going through that!!! Sounds absolutely vile!

  11. Razorbec says:

    Have shared this with my league as a new committee is being voted in this week. Thank you.

Say some words about these words!