Monday, July 28, 2014

Derby Names

There are a lot of things about roller derby that we find ourselves explaining again and again:
NO, we don't elbow/punch/trip/bite each other;
YES, we wear protective gear;
NO, we don't get paid to do this;
YES, the game has actual rules.

But there is one thing that many people already seem know about from the get-go: Derby Names.  So if you've ever imagined yourself in any kind of roller derby capacity, you've probably visited the "what would my name be?" rabbit hole thought loop.

Gate City with names on display

In the earlier days of derby, every new skater had to choose an absolutely unique name.  You'd come up with something awesome and clever, then check the twoevils list to see whether it was already taken, then go back to the drawing board.  If a new player's desired name was even deemed "too similar" to that of an established player anywhere in the world, she would have to come up with something else.  Nowadays, roller derby is just too big for such formalities.  You can take your brilliant name idea to Derby Roll Call or just google it ("Tori Famous Roller Derby", "Holy Hanna Roller Derby", "Keira Fightley Roller Derby", etc.)  to see if there's already a player with the same or a very similar name.  If so, you can contact him/her to ask permission to share the name.  Generally it's not a problem if you live in different regions of the U.S., but it's still polite to ask.

Many skaters aren't keen on sharing a name, and it's no wonder.  This is a big decision, an identity marker you choose for yourself, and something that many of us put some thought into.  Take, for instance, this Greensboro Counterstrike captain:

C. Oswin
"I am a big nerd and a huge Doctor Who fan. Clara Oswin Oswald is one of the most recent companions to the Doctor and is one of my absolute favorites. I wanted to find a name that was unique, but still reflected who I was. I picked C. Oswin as a homage to Clara, and also realized that if you say it fast enough, it sounds like “See us win”. I did my research and found no-one else with a similar name in the derby world. My real first name also stars with a C. I almost picked Elli Smash&Dashwood for Elinor Dashwood of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, however, we already have an Ellie (Ellie Mae Crammit) and I wanted to avoid confusion. Apparently Grandmaster Bash desperately wanted to call me Ozzy when I got drafted to the Mad Dollies, however, most people call me Winnie."

Like Winnie, almost every player has a derby nickname.  Just as most people aren't casually called by their full first and last names, teammates tend to shorten each other's names for easier communication on the track.  Your team's natural tendency towards abbreviation is another thing to consider when you're choosing a name.  Sure, Sisyphus might be a sweet derby name, but do you really want your pivot yelling "SISSY!!!" on the track?  Ok, maybe you do.  It's something to think about.  Of course, you can avoid the whole thing if you choose something short and sweet and awesomely original, like Pants.

A few other things to think about: 
-Do you want your name to be accessible to the general public or would you rather be known by some clever wink-wink-nod-nod jargon?  Having to explain your derby name does get old, but having a name that perfectly suits you is so satisfying that it might be worth it.   
-Swears can make you sound pretty tough and wicked.  But do you think you might want to be more mainstream?  Will you want to be on the news, where a name that isn't family friendly might not be welcome?  And you might have to tell your name, with a straight face, to your grandma and your nieces and nephews.  (Of course, thoughts about this vary from league to league.  Here at GSORD we tend to keep the names fairly clean.)
-Don't choose a name that is too similar to a famous skater!  You really don't want to be known as Suzy Hotbod in the derby world.

So what's your derby name gonna be?  Give us your short list!

1 comment:

  1. If I was a ref, I think I'd like to be "NC Skate Trooper."