Things I Wish They Had Told Me Ava Tarr by Ohio Rollergirls

Published on August 5th, 2011 | by Ava Tarr

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Ava Tarr by Ohio Rollergirls

The Ultimate Guide To Choosing Your Roller Derby Name

So, you’ve decided you want to be a roller derby girl. You’ve gathered your gear, paid your dues, and you’ve been taking your hits on the fresh meat rink. You’re getting ready to graduate from bootcamp and join the big girls. You’re in it to win it—so the time has come to get yourself the perfect moniker. Choosing the right roller derby name is an art, so whether you’re brainstorming or narrowing down your choices, be sure to consider the following bits of advice.

1. Make it memorable. The most classic derby names are short, sweet, and have a pun that the general audience can follow. Often, names are plays off of female names. My favorites include Carmen Getsome (Rat City), Liv N. Letdie (Santa Cruz Derby Girls), and Pia Mess (Silicon Valley Roller Girls). It’s also fun if your number plays into the joke too—Liv’s is 007 and Pia’s is 24/7.

2. Watch the spelling and pronunciation. In the day of search engines and decreasing spelling aptitude, consider how your name is pronounced and spelled. It should be as grammatically sensible as possible. If you pick something obtuse and difficult to pronounce, don’t blame the announcers when they mangle it at every bout or bitch at that one teammate who always seems to get it wrong no matter how many times you correct her—you did it to yourself.

3. Consider the length. You don’t want your name to be a mouthful. It will be a pain in the ass to fit it on your jersey, your helmet, and signs from your fans. If you’re the crafty type, you’re going to find yourself spending a small fortune paying for the extra iron-on letters for your new gear. Regardless of length, however…

4. …be prepared for the nickname. SVRG’s MisTits picked her original name because of her love of the band The Misfits and her fine rack. When we address her, though, it’s “Tits” or “Titties.” Fortunately, she has the swagger to pull it off—but if this is a fate you’re not prepared for, be sure to consider all the ways your name can be shortened. If there’s no logical way to shorten it to something cute and convenient, be prepared for people to give up and use your real name (which may or may not be what you prefer.)

5. Think twice about in-jokes and obscure references. Really, this is a personal preference. If you think your name is clever and you like it, go for it—but expect to explain the whole story every time someone asks you where your name came from, and then be prepared for the blank look and disappointed “oh” when you’re done, because in-jokes aren’t nearly as funny with the out-crowd.

6. Don’t date yourself. Avoid slang and trends that are likely to fall out of fashion. Hell, you could be on skates for the next decade—so you don’t want to be stuck with the same kind of awkwardness as you feel now when your parents talk about bling. On the same note, if you’re looking to cop a celebrity name, be sure to stick to A-listers with durable careers. Gotham’s Beyonslay or Santa Cruz’s Angelina Rollie can rest assured their superstar names will stand the test of time, but if you play off of Deena Cortese (who?), Heidi Montag (what?), or some Bachelorette, no one is going to get it once those famewhores’ 15 minutes are up.

7. Think about your rating. Would you rate your name PG, PG-13, or R? Consider your team’s norms and market—some are more conservative and family-oriented, whereas others limit their team and bouts to the 21+ crowd. SVRG readily hosts Se7en Year Bitch and Bitch Puddin’, but if someone adopted the name Shitty McFuckface, eyebrows would be raised. The aforementioned MisTits had a change of heart when her little sister joined junior derby and she ended up changing her name to Kozmo Trouble. Consider what people around you would think. If you blush at the thought of your grandparents, boss, kids, students, etc., finding out your derby name, then you better keep your fingers crossed they never come watch you play or see your jersey in the laundry pile.

8. Avoid similarity to other registered names, especially your teammates’. If your name is too similar to a registered one, there’s a good chance it will get rejected. Bay Area Derby Girl Postal Servix changed her name from Secret Servix because her name was too similar to a Colorado team. Be especially careful not to choose something too close to a teammate’s name—not only do you not want to step on her toes or cramp her style, but more importantly, you don’t want to cause any confusion on the track when someone is hollering at you.

9. Baby, don’t forget your number. Although it’s fun to incorporate your number with your name, make sure to also consider its similarity to your teammates’. At a recent game Ohio Roller Girls’ Red Headed Slut (#1 oz.) kept going to the box for the accumulation of mystery minors—afterwards we realized she was getting her teammate OutaMy Wayman’s (#10) penalties. OHRG’s Texas Chainsaw Sasskicker (#19) says her ears perk up every time the ref starts calling out her teammate Bratislava Bruiser, who is #1993. Also consider the length. While I thought it would be cool to have a number in binary code to fit with my techie name, I now kick myself every time I am in the penalty box waiting for the NSO to finally spit out “one-one-zero-one, go!”

10. Try it out. Um, you wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it, right? So, run it by your teammates. See if you can stand being called by it—this is also a good way to determine what the working (shortened) version is going to be.

11. Get it registered—and have a backup plan. SVRG’s Smashleigh found out after two seasons that her name was never registered with the International Roller Girls’ Roster of names back in the day, and by the time it was submitted, it was too similar to another skater’s to be accepted. It may take your team’s designated name register-er a while to collect the list, and there is often a backlog on the site, so be prepared for the possibility of rejection based on duplication even if your name seemed unique at the time. Come up with a backup name that you also like, and don’t get too attached to your first choice until it’s final.

Ava Tarr started skating with the Silicon Valley Roller Girls (San Jose, CA) and now skates with the Ohio Roller Girls (Columbus, OH), where she is captain of Gang Green and proclaims her allergy to jammer panties. Her new favorite derby name is Eden Babies, #N0M, of the Sandusky Rollergirls.

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