Thursday, July 18, 2019

Roller derby offers fun, sport, outlet for local player

May 15, 2019 by Emily Welch, features writer

Whenever a person hears the words “roller derby,” there’s a very specific image that comes to mind. It’s an image of angry women—women you don’t want to offend—pushing and clawing their way around a rink. There’s an aura of mystery around it too, and everyone who hears those words is instantly curious. That’s why when I had a chance to sit down with Ruby Roughhouser of local roller derby league Eves of Destruction, I jumped at the chance. 

Roughhouser (also known as Chrystal Myers) looks the part. She’s tall, tattooed, muscular. She looks like a person you want to have on your side.

“Way back in 2010, there was an amazing movie that came out called Whip It,” she begins. “Mine is the same story of a thousand roller derby girls out there who saw Whip It. And while it isn’t entirely accurate to contemporary roller derby, the feeling and emotion that is displayed is. You are a woman who feels weird, who feels awkward, like you don’t belong, then you see some really cool skaters. You think, ‘That looks awesome,’ and you kind of find yourself. I didn’t even know roller derby existed until I saw Whip It, which is funny because it has existed since 1930.”

Ruby Roughhouser of local roller derby league Eves of Destruction (photo by John Robertson).

Roughhouser says that when she saw the movie, she was turning 30 and had a bucket list of things she wanted to do.

“I had had some issues with my own mental health that had just been resolved,” she says. “I was feeling good, feeling happy, with a new zest for life. I had seen this movie, and I had also seen an advertisement for a local league. I thought, ‘Yeah, I’m going to do it!’”

Roughhouser says that the only skating she had done before was as a child.

“The nice thing about derby is that no matter where or when you join, there is always a ‘fresh meat’ group,” she explains. “They will teach you to skate. Then they will teach you to derby. Then, well, then you play.”

Roughhouser says that while lots of people know how to skate, knowing how to derby is another thing entirely.

“To be able to derby, to manoeuvre, to hit people, to think while you skate… Your body is doing one thing, your brain is doing another. It’s very complicated,” she says. “So that’s why you can’t just skate and jump in. You’ll get hurt. People get hurt anyways, but you would really get hurt.”

Roughhouser broke her leg in 2016, and re-evaluated her derby involvement—for a second. 

“I had to question how much do I really love doing this,” says Roughhouser. “A few people think you are crazy for going back. I’m lucky I have a supportive husband and a really supportive daughter. It’s clear too, though, when someone has a passion, something that they have done on an every-day basis for eight years, it’s obvious it’s something they love doing. So it really wasn’t that hard for them to support me in that decision.”

Roughhouser says roller derby is also a great tool for dealing with the unpredictability of regular life.

“We have a lot of nurses, caregivers, a lot of frontline workers of the opioid crisis playing derby. We have mothers, teachers, and non-binary folks, as well. You have a hard day and feel like you need to hit something. It doesn’t come from a place of anger, though. It comes from a place of celebration, of what you have found your body can do.”

Eves of Destruction roller derby
5 pm Saturday, May 18
$10, Archie Browning Arena

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