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Published on January 30th, 2013 | by DerbyLife

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Book Review: EveryGirl’s Guide to Roller Derby by Punchy O’Guts

Review by Gypsy Bones, Boulder County Bombers

EveryGirl’s Guide to Roller Derby: A Navigational Guide through the World of Roller Derby, by Punchy O’Guts

“Everything you’ll ever need to know about roller derby. EVER. (Until it changes.)”

This book is a compact and quick-reading guide with illustrations, written as a spin on the EveryGirl’s Guide to Life book. Only instead of being “a modern day Barbie” concerned with looks and closet organization, Punchy’s EveryGirl is a skater navigating the culture of roller derby. The book is divided into five parts, broken up by diagrams, boxes, and a quiz.

To start with the basics, The EveryGirl’s Foundation discusses the importance of communication, and provides insight into the derby language of “Neanderthal gruntings, politically incorrect phrases, nouns used as verbs, vulgarities, and Newtonian mechanics terminology.” She emphasizes that “far more touching will occur than you’re probably accustomed to” and that this is a means of communication as well. This section also includes an often snarky overview of different roller derby styles and rollergirl archetypes, some of which you may recognize from skaters you know. For the beginner, there is a discussion of protective gear, skates, maintenance tips, as well as some job descriptions and explanation of the work involved in running the league.

There is an interesting chapter on derby names, likening derby to marriage with the opportunity to take a new name, but the reminder that a new name does not make you a different person. A list of names with categories and examples is fun to read (our own Em Dash is mentioned under “Nerdcore” names) and makes me wonder if mine would fit under Ethnic or Pure Jibberish.

The next section talks about “transforming your body into a derby machine” and reviews diet, crosstraining, exercise and injuries, even skin care. For EveryGirl’s emotional health, there are chapters as well on love and relationships with a somewhat gratuitous section on birth control. More helpful are advice on how to deal when you don’t make the team, and a conflict resolution plan for the inevitable derby drama.

A travel section gives tips on getting time off work for derby, packing lists and travel tips, and the book wraps up with a great section on being a good sport and rules to live by.

There are several cringe-worthy moments in the book; if, like me, you dislike seeing the word “retard” used as an insult (growing up with a mom who taught Special Ed may have sensitized me to this) then you will not care for the variations thereof sprinkled through the chapters.

However, there were definitely moments that I cringed and laughed at the same time. I learned the meaning of the word “gunt” (if this is a new word for you too, check out the Roller Derby Glossary at the end of the book) and the strategy of “Charlie Sheening.”

EveryGirl’s Guide to Roller Derby is a quick, fun read to throw in your carry-on on the way to Rollercon, or as a stocking stuffer for your derby wife. Punchy accomplishes what she means to capture, that though every skater is different, “every skater is deeply affected by roller derby.” As anyone who plays derby knows, and in a wrap-up guaranteed to make even the toughest skater a little misty, she pays homage to “a place that encourages you to be in shape, to love yourself, to learn, to win, to get a second chance, to regret nothing, to live life to the fullest, to be you. A place where you belong. Roller derby.”

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