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Published on May 9th, 2012 | by Ninja Sassem

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Hey, I like Broller Derby.

Did you keep reading? Good! In the three years that I’ve been involved in the Derbyverse I’ve run into many women who are so much into the empowerment of the mostly female dominated sport that they are quick to pooh-pooh on the MRDA and other men’s leagues. It’s possible that they have little experience with an actual men’s league but the mere thought of men taking away something from us is enough to bunch significant panties.

One of the things I find most hilarious is that we have been vigilant about the fact that roller derby is incredibly inclusive. You’re a mom? Come play with us. You’re gay? Well we like that, come play with us. You’re a gay, half-Samoan, half-Brazilian, deaf mom with a prosthetic forearm? Well there are no forearms in derby anyway, come play with us! You’re a guy who wants to play derby? Oh hellz no, you can be a zebra.

I never experienced the pure power of ONLY women’s derby. Maybe it’s because our local men’s league, The St. Louis Gatekeepers, was born at much the same time that I started playing derby. My league members have all watched, cheered and screamed at MRDA bouts with as much tenacity as WFTDA ones. Our Coach is a Gatekeeper and has brought great drills, strategy, blocking techniques etc. to our league that has helped us grow by huge strides.

Additionally, we regularly scrimmage against boys. WHAT!?! Yes, we play against boys and in mixed packs with boys all the time. It’s not scary it’s enlightening. I’m 5’4 and 130 lbs. I certainly can’t crash a wall of 200 lbs. 6 footers, though I sometimes forget that small fact, rather I bounce off them. Instead, I have to play a lot more positionally, use hockey stop blocks etc. It is empowering (a derby girl’s favorite word) to know that you can play against these huge guys because the chances are slim you’re going to find a woman that is larger, scarier and harder hitting then these men.

I encourage you to embrace your Broller Derby Brothers! Be their friends, their fans, their coaches, their refs! Invite them out to your practices, learn from each other and be each other’s biggest supporters. Cheer at their games, support their fundraisers and they will do the same for you. The growth of our sport, whether the incarnation is flat, banked, women’s, men’s or juniors is fantastic and we should support them all.

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Ninja Sassem

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