New skaters and fresh meat often have a fear of being embarrassed or looking stupid. I tend to give advice that’s only somewhat helpful — get used to it. Playing roller derby means falling down in front of people. It’s going to happen, and it’s FINE. In fact, falling down in front of people over and over is a great way to lose any sense of shame you currently deal with in your day-to-day life.

My most embarrassing moments?

My first time jamming, in my first bout, did not go well. I landed in front of a group of fans wearing the other team’s colors, and they cheered and clapped. Then, I heard the announcer say, “Frisky Sour is having a TOUGH time…

Then there was the time I jammed (there’s a theme here) in Seattle, in front of a record-setting crowd of 5000 people or something. One jam went okay – Goodie got lead, but I got out behind her and forced the calloff. The other jam? Not so hot. I never got out of the pack. Later, watching the other teams’ games, I realized that not only had I gotten my ass kicked in front of a record-setting crowd, but very likely with a closeup ON THE JUMBOTRON.

Or the time we all went to the bar after travel team tryouts, and everyone there made the team except for me.

Guess what? I’ve come out the other side intact. And I don’t embarrass easily anymore.

What about you? What was your most embarrassing derby moment? Please share, so we can all feel better about ourselves.


You watched roller derby this weekend, right? Between Tinseltown Showdown, Anarchy in the UK, Skate to Thrill, Rose City, Rat City and a bazillion others, you’ve probably had the opportunity by now to see 30-second penalties in action.

So. Where are we landing on that, so far?

For me, it makes the game seem a bit zippier.

How about you? Let’s chat in the comments.

(Also, you can tell us what you watched this weekend. That would be fun! I watched large portions of both Rose City home bouts from home. Then, we tried to go to the Rose Petals bout, but I forgot Baby Sour’s headphone ear protector thingys. We got in the door for two seconds, a big cheer went up, and he started crying. Lesson learned.)

bad advice for roller derby

Photo by flickr user Gomisan

If you’ve played  for more than five minutes, you’ve probably gotten bad advice for roller derby.

Unasked for advice is a side effect of any skilled or semi-skilled recreational activity. Try going mini-golfing with your dad (or anyone’s dad) and see if you get any sage words on your grip or lining up a shot. Yep.

Some, or most, of that advice is coming from a thoughtful, more experienced place, and it’s helpful. Sometimes, it’s coming from a thoughtful, more experienced place, but it’s poorly timed. Sometimes, the advice is just bad.

Let’s chat: What’s the worst roller derby advice you’ve ever gotten?

In Roller Derby for Beginners, I talk about a coach who told us that there is “never an excuse” for tripping anyone, ever. Geez, way to give someone a complex. Of course it’s okay to make mistakes – if you don’t trip your teammate, or hit someone in the face, or trip over your own skates every once in a while, you’re not really pushing yourself, and you’re not growing as a skater. If you’re doing it a LOT, there’s an issue you need to address. But really — if you’re working on some new fancy footwork and you accidentally trip your buddy, there is an excuse for that. The excuse is that you’re practicing.

What about you? Have you ever gotten bad advice? Did anyone teach you how to do a skill wrong? Did someone totally confuse you by giving you advanced technique before you could cross over? Save your internet friends from the same fate!




Welcome once again to the Frisky Power Rankings, where I rank women’s flat track roller derby according to my whims/in-depth knowledge.

HEY EVERYONE! ROLLER DERBY! Ranked WFTDA teams have played against each other since last month. All-star lineups have been decided and posted on the internet. It’s an exciting time to be a WFTDA fan. Who’s going to surprise us this year? Who’s going to exceed expectations? How are additions and subtractions going to work with each team’s personnel? Who’s going to capitalize their strategy for the new rules?

There are no April Fools’ jokes in here. This is serious business.

Power rankings = SRS BSNS

(Dedicated to “Nami”)

  1. Gotham. They lost Brazilian Nut to Philly, but I guess their jammer rotation is still pretty good.
  2. Texas. Hauss the Bauss is just going to get better. Think about that.
  3. Bay Area Derby. I don’t know what it means that they beat Treasure Valley by 623. These things happen?
  4. Everyone else. Who wants to live above this line? It seems very pleasant up there.
  5. Denver. Beat up on Kansas City harder than Rocky Mountain did. This is the only data point we have so far this year, so let’s blow it out of proportion!
  6. Windy City. Closer game against Arch Rival than might have been expected, but it looks like they were giving their newer jammers some run early on.
  7. Cute baby animals.
  8. Angel City. Tinseltown Showdown is in a couple of weeks. This is exciting. We’ll just leave them here and wait patiently.
  9. London. Anarchy in the UK is in a couple of weeks. This is exciting…etc.
  10. Pie. Specifically, berry pie. With ice cream, maybe.
  11. Rose City. I am bumping Rose up one because Hurls told me to last month, and she is wise. Also, they played a pretty solid game against LADD. That’s fun.
  12. Atlanta. No bouts until May. :(
  13. The new ruleset. It hit, not with a bang or a thud, but a casual nod. Okay, 30-second penalties, gotcha. Moving on!
  14. Philly. Added a few transfer players. Lost Shenita Stretcher from all-star play, breaking my little heart.
  15. Minnesota. Hm. We’ll see next weekend when they play No Coast. Hm.
  16. Rat City. Their roster sure has changed a lot. They also lost another player to…
  17. Oly. Don’t look at their roster and get confused between who plays WFTDA and who plays USARS. Like I did.
  18. Montreal. Looking très fort so far.
  19. Tampa. Tampa gets power for playing four games in March, and winning each.
  20. Ohio. I don’t know, man! I thought they were having a huge retirement this last year in a small league, but they beat Nashville and Toronto. Toronto doesn’t look too shabby, either.

What do you think?


It’s the unofficial start of the WFTDA competitive season, and WFTDA rankings have been out in their new form for a year now. This year’s travel team schedules have been built with the rankings calculator in mind. Any older games that were scheduled before the rankings were announced have “expired” at this point, to the great relief of Rose City fans.

I’m still confused.

I like stats and numbers, but I still can’t quite bring myself to run the numbers on how any outcome will change a team’s rankings. What matters to me is how the teams performed. Tell me the rankings later.

Am I just slow to mathematical concepts, or is the ranking process a little convoluted? And sometimes strange? Does it encourage teams to blowout the competition? Does it encourage travel to multi-bout weekends instead of holding inter-league games at home? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

How’re we all feeling about the rankings at this point? Satisfied and smiling? Disappointed? Enraged? A little hungry? Ambivalent? Still confused? 

Let’s chat about it.

A while ago, I joked over at the Facebook page about all the people who find little anecdote by googling “quitting roller derby” or “how to quit roller derby.”

My advice at the time?

Just quit. But be cool about it.

Retirement - hanging out at the river with your baby bump and manatee. Or whatever you feel like.

Retirement – hanging out at the river with your baby bump and manatee. Or whatever you feel like.

As people kept googling it, I thought about it more. It’s easy for me to be glib about it, because I was really ready to retire when I did.

I’d given it a lot of thought, my team had won two Rose City championships in a row, a bunch of my friends and teammates were retiring at the same time, and my husband and I were planning on having a baby. I didn’t feel particularly left out, left behind, or bored. I kept my volunteer job until it got to be too much with writing Roller Derby for Beginners.

Pretty straightforward.

Not everyone has a similar experience.

Staying involved

It’s up to you how much you want to stay involved with your team, league, and the roller derby community at large after you retire. Do you want to stay involved? If so, how much and what would you like that time to look like? Will you still skate recreationally? Will you continue to volunteer? If so, doing what?

Do you want to see these people three times a week still? Try coaching. Once a week? How about being an NSO?

You can still see your derby friends in a non-derby context, you know. Change is okay. If you want to keep the same level of commitment, great! It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition.

Staying “cool about it”

Don’t burn bridges, ladies and gentlemen. If you’re going to leave, you might as well do it on good terms. Be kind, even to people you don’t like very much. Stay paid up on those dues. You might want to come back someday, or call on that community for a favor. If you do come back someday, your personality might have as much sway as your skating skill when it’s time to be re-drafted.

Staying in shape

If staying in shape is important to you (or continuing to eat like a teenage boy without gaining weight is important to you, hello ME), plan a new way to stay in shape. Trail skates? Walking, Running, biking, Zumba, swimming? Aggressive gymnastics? Competitive LARP? If you stay active, you’ll continue to have an outlet for stress, and be less likely to hip check your co-worker who keeps complaining about doing the mail merge (YES IT SUCKS JUST FIGURE IT OUT LIKE THE REST OF US DO, OMG).

Staying “roller derby”

A lot of us identify ourselves as “roller derby people.” When you see an acquaintance at a party, it’s what they ask about first. I’m sure you were all very interesting, well-rounded people before you played derby, but maybe you didn’t have a “thing” that you identified with, and that people identified you with, like you do now.

After you retire, you’re still you. You can identify however you want.

Keep using your roller derby name with your friends, or don’t. I’m still Frisky. You’re not more or less authentically derby-y than anyone who HAS played using the one-whistle start (wow, it’s been a long time since I skated). You put in your time. Don’t let anyone make you feel differently.

Staying retired. Or not.

People pop in and out of retirement all the time. Roller derby isn’t going anywhere. It’ll hold while you go have a baby,  finish your degree, catch up on your Netflix, learn to make beer, or spend a year in Budapest – whatever it is that’s calling to you.


There’s a whole, big, beautiful world out there. Roller derby definitely exposed me to a number of experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise, but it prevented me from experiencing a lot, too. There’s only so much time in your life. Do what you want to do.


And if I ever get the time, I’m coming out of retirement to skate rec.

I swear.

Someday soon.

I am.


kIHm2jK Things are changing around the Sour house.

After five years at a secure but unchallenging job, I’m leaving security behind to be a freelance writer.


I would never have done this if not for Roller Derby for Beginners. Not that it’s making the rent – beer and ice cream money more like it – but I have the confidence after deciding to write a book, actually following through, and writing the damn thing. Then, people actually liked it.

The hard part about leaving security behind was deciding the balance between the Responsible Decision and Just Going for It.

I’m still not sure if what the ideal balance is.

On one end of the spectrum, you can be completely conservative, and wait until you’re 100% prepared. In most cases, you’ll be waiting a very long time. On the other, you could just follow every whim and fancy you have, flitting through life hoping things will turn out okay. I did that in my early 20′s, and it took a few years to pay down the credit card debt.

Let’s be real: I make about $200 a month right now with my freelance writing business. But you can’t grow your business if you’re working for someone else 40 hours a week while sleep-deprived. At least I can’t; better, more industrious people than me have done so.

We have cut our spending and upped our savings. We waited until my retirement account was vested. We waited for the Affordable Care Act, and we talked to an insurance agent before making a final decision.

So, we’re not 100% prepared, but we’ve thought it through, planned for emergencies, and have backup plans. I hope that’s enough.


Here’s what I want to do: I want to work for myself and follow through on creative projects from start to finish. I want work independently, but collaborate with and learn from other people who are interested in making the world a better, more interesting, kinder, more fun place. I want to work hard, but that doesn’t mean sitting in an office for eight hours straight. I want to spend more than an hour a day with my son. That’s my dream, and it’s coming true now.


So, here we go! I’m gonna write more! Internet friends, please keep me in mind if you hear of gigs, or if you/your employer need help with copy, blogging, etc. I’d love to help you out. You can also help me out by spreading the word about Roller Derby for Beginners to your league. That would be awfully nice of you. I think it’s a good book, and other people have told me so without being forced.


Have you made a leap like this in your life? How did you prepare?

You’ve read through the basics on the new WFTDA rules that will be put into place on April 1st. Maybe your league did beta testing, or has been practicing with the new rules for a while. But have you heard MY opinions on them? Not yet! Lucky for you, I’m glad to share those opinions with you, my dear internet friends. Then we can have a comment party to chat about it. Ooh, fun! Let’s dish!

No flopsies!

Flopping is now a penalty. Well, this is good/problematic. They fine people for flipping in the NBA, after scrutinizing all the angles of game footage available. Yep. You can usually tell if someone is flopping, but it’s hard to make a strong case for intent in real time. Very hard. May the zebra gods help us with the official timeouts required to argue this one.

Official reviews

If you win your first one, you get another. Seems fair. Maybe please reduce other official timeouts where possible, okay? Love, A Fan Who Watches Online and Gets Bored.

Multi-player blocks

Can we all agree that the spirit of the multi-player block rule is no clotheslining? (ED: Um, we can’t! Clotheslining is taking someone down by the neck. I didn’t realize it was such a specific term. Learning! Anyway, can we all agree that the spirit of the rule is to not create an impenetrable link?) Over time it turned into no touching. And lots of frustrated players who didn’t know how to change their gameplay to avoid getting called. Will this fix it? One can hope. The wording is still a bit tortured.

No touching!

No touching!

Cutting the track

Once again, we’re cutting (ha ha) (sorry) to the spirit of the rule. Cutting the track is illegal because it gives you an unfair advantage over the opponent. When there’s no impact, there’s no advantage, so no penalty. Seems simple enough. People are saying that there’s too much “judgment” on the part of the official here to decide if there’s impact. I don’t see that. Officials have always watched you to make sure you come back in bounds legally. Now, if you touch one skate out of bounds and lift the wrong foot, they’ll just give you a second to re-enter legally. Works for me.

30-second penalties

Who knows? I haven’t seen this tested. Who’s been practicing with 30-second penalties? How’s this been working? How does passive offense work? Is your timing off? Do you love it?



Overall, this rule revision seems like a reasonable response to some legitimate gripes about modern gameplay. It gets more skaters on the floor, encourages fewer power jam points, and it refines a couple of rules that made skaters crazy. I’m sure there are roller derby scholars out there right now finding new loopholes and thinking of new strategies that will need to be outlawed in a year or two. I’d expect nothing less.

Are you into these rule changes? Let us know in the comments.



Welcome once again to the Frisky Power Rankings, where I rank women’s flat track roller derby according to my whims/in-depth knowledge.

Not much has happened in the last month or so, so the standings mostly stay pat, other a few changes here and there due to my whims (we’re all about the whim here) and personnel changes.

  1. Gotham. I guess they’re probably still good.
  2. Texas. Do they eat a bunch of barbecue in the offseason? Is that why it takes them a while to round into shape for champs most years? Or tacos? Is it tacos?
  3. Bay Area Derby. I was in the Bay Area for a couple of days after Christmas. I ate ice cream. It was really nice.
  4. Everyone else. Who wants up here? Practice reeeeal hard.
  5. Cute baby animals. Spring!
  6. Denver. I guess they had to leave the Glitterdome. Maybe not inhaling glitter anymore will help.
  7. Windy City. A couple of roster changes from last year, but largely the same team that impressed us.
  8. Atlanta. No bouts until May. :(
  9. Angel City. Look at these goofballs/cuties
  10. London. Beating up on local teams lately. Keeps one in tip-top shape.
  11. Rocky Mountain. They move up with the addition of Heather Juska (JUSKA YOU GUYS), Gator Dunn, Helen Wheels, and the re-addition of She Who. (Juska yay Juska this is exciting)
  12. Rose City. I like them. They haven’t had tryouts yet. Get tryouts.
  13. Pizza. MAN, pizza is good.
  14. Tacos. Tacos are pretty good, but pizza is better.
  15. Philly. I’ve never had a cheese steak.
  16. Minnesota. Revenge on TURD! No, that’s not an Oly joke, be cool.
  17. Rat City. Teens are hot in Rat City right now. That came out wrong. 
  18. Victoria. No bouts scheduled until June, but I can’t bear to bring Oly up until they play another game.
  19. Oly. Played a Jet City home team? No extra power for you.
  20. Team United Roller Derby. Okay, I’ll bite.
    Thinking about pizza instead of trying to block Onda Sligh. Photo by Masonite Burn, bad MS Paint by me.

    Thinking about pizza instead of trying to block Onda Sligh in 2010. Photo by Masonite Burn, bad MS Paint by me.


What do you think?

I think I’m hungry.

Roller derby is not full of jerks.

Life is.

 jerk venn

Roller derby isn’t a refuge from the rest of the world, and it isn’t a source of concentration for any of the world’s ills, either. It’s just a sport that throws together lots of different kinds of people to work toward a common goal. Lots of those people are great. A certain percentage are jerks. A certain percentage are flakes. Some don’t answer emails, and some write waaaaay too many. Some people think too much of their own opinions, and try to steamroll others. Some people sit back and complain about the work that everyone else is doing. Some people take on too much and get bitter about it. Sound familiar? Is this your roller derby league, or your workplace? Or both?

The problem isn’t roller derby drama. The problem is humankind.

My sister-in-law plays kickball (because we’re in Portland, and this is what people do), and guess what? There’s totally drama! Some teams have bad relationships with other teams, people get drunk and yell at each other, and, by the way, an astounding number of people tear their ACLs and break their ankles.

If you get 20+ people together for a common goal, drama will ensue. You won’t like everyone. Not everything will run smoothly. It’s not roller derby. It’s life.

(And I’m sorry to say it, but if it seems like everyone in roller derby is a jerk? It’s not roller derby. It’s probably you.)

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