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Published on July 27th, 2011 | by Suzy Hotrod

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Rollercon: That was then, this is now.

In summer 2005, a few hundred strangers boarded planes and went to Las Vegas to celebrate RollerCon. That statement is pretty full of holes. I don’t know exactly how many people went. I don’t remember how many leagues attended. I don’t know what the exact date was. I’m an opinion spewer, not a fact-checking legitimate writer for god’s sake! Roller derby takes up way too much of my life to do research.

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There was a shark suit, a ride in a limo, tons of booze, and a pool. I think I skated, oooooh, for about 20 minutes at some outdoor rink in 106-degree heat. I remember meeting the first girls who skated in another league I’d met in my life. They were from Rat City in Seattle, WA. Pia Mess was one of them. I remember that I told her “Your name reminds me of that Lunachicks song.” And Drew Blood, cause she had a novelty number, 9 Pints. We only had plain old numbers in Gotham Girls Roller Derby. Fancy numbers were mind blowing! Not until February of 2006 would Tucson host the first tournament between multiple leagues. This was our first chance to get together and sniff each other’s butts before fierce competition would begin.

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Flash forward to 2010. I skipped RollerCon for all those years in between and returned triumphant from my weenie rookie beginnings as a nationally-decorated roller derby champion and I was teaching at the thing! I equate roller derby’s revolution to learning a newly invented language. If it never existed before and I learned it in 2004, I must be a fucking expert. Huh. Kinda’ cool. This secret language was growing, as I watched hundreds of skaters from all over the world scramble to get out of bed at 7 am and take the first shuttle to a Sportsplex to get in line to take my class that wasn’t until 1 pm. HUH?

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As I prepare for RollerCon 2011, I know I never want to miss another RollerCon. Why? Because when this is all over, I can say, I was there. I was a part of history. You were a part of history. Every year is a historic landmark to the next one. Aside from pride in our sport’s growth, I like Trish The Dish and Ivanna S. Pankin and appreciate all the hard work they do. I am fiercely loyal because they (and their dog Large Marge) drove me all around Las Vegas once where I was there for a work convention.

RollerCon is the highlight of the year for new skaters, skaters who aren’t in top 20 leagues, girls who don’t get that much formal training to skate skate skate skate and skate more. And also there’s still a fair amount of auxiliary party time to celebrate. These skaters are the flesh and blood that forms the body of our sport around the backbone laid by us “old timers.” The top teams at the WFTDA Championship are a small part. It is the other 90% of the world that are not top tier all star skaters that make our sport thrive, by participating in it, promoting it, growing it, and supporting it. At this point in time, I think WFTDA’s tournaments are primarily attended by other rollergirls from non competing teams. (Note: I already said it, I’m not a fact checker, so buzz off.)

When I go to RollerCon, I feel like Elvis! I am super flattered when new rookie skaters know who I am and get excited to meet me. I am inspired by them and so proud to see them. As a roller derby ancient from 2004, I can’t help but feel partially responsible (with the help of A LOT of others!) for this whole mess getting started. What I see around me at RollerCon is a giant new world that is all ours. It gives me chills. I can’t wait to share everything I’ve learned about the sport to anyone that wants to hear it.

After all the striped socks, ruffle shorts, fake mustaches, pants off dance offs and the other stereotypical “derby” stuff that I wouldn’t necessarily call my cup of tea, we are a women’s athletic revolution. We meet every year in Las Vegas to learn more and still kick back and have a few cold ones (pants on or off depending) to celebrate a job well done and roll to the future ahead.

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Suzy Hotrod


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