This week, we caught up with our fantastic Captain Gem O' Cide to learn the ins and outs of leading a league in one of the world's fastest-growing sports.
Q: Let's start at the beginning, shall we? How long have you been playing roller derby, and why did you join?
A: I have been playing roller derby since November 2012, although with injury and leaving the country I have actually only skated 2 out of those 3 years. I had watched Whip It, and looked to see if there was a local team, which, at the time, there wasn't. A few years later someone told me York had started one and so I decided to give it a go.
I rocked up with no kit, in a tea dress, I couldn’t skate and it wasn’t even fresh meat! Luckily they let me play, and I knew from that first session I had found something special.
Q: I'm sure we're all trying to imagine you skating in a tea dress now! Tell us, what is the best thing about being Captain? What is the worst?
A: The best thing about being Captain is that I get to know what’s going on across the league, and because of that I can try and help, by putting my ideas across. The Minxters feels like a part of me, and I want what is best for the team – I suppose that's a double-edged sword, since I am also expected to sort out all manner of problems, and sometimes it can get overwhelming with work and life and derby. It takes a surprising amount of time out of my week, but it’s worth it to skate and to play with what now essentially feels like my family.
Q: Aww! We love being part of the Minxters clan. What is your favourite thing about your team?
A: When everyone is happy and has had an awesome practice session/scrim/bout, it’s all worth it. I think at the moment we have an amazing bunch of people full of potential, willingness to learn, dedication to the team and fun spirit. This year's Christmas Party reflected how at one we all are, the moment when I looked around and we are all in a weird circle in the middle of The Duchess [a local York nightclub] taking up most of the dance floor with very – ahem – unique dance moves. Not many teams have that, not many social circles have that. I know when we go out it's fun, and I know if I needed any help, that the team would be there for me.
Q: I'm sure you're right. Tell us, what has been the highlight of playing roller derby for you – a favourite moment, a bout you won?
A: I suppose a memorable moment was when we played North Wales, and I jammed (which I hate) and we even scored some points, which was miraculous – but I mainly relied on a lot of offensive blocking from my team! It was my last game for a while because I was going abroad and it felt like something special; it felt like the last time ever even though I knew (and am glad) it was not! Other than that there are hundreds of special little moments within practice – doing bolero with Ro, skating with my best friends, and generally just being on skates and full of happiness, full of gladness that I ever found this strange, hitty, exciting, wonderful sport.
Q: Other than it being undeniably the world's great sport, what would you tell anyone thinking about joining roller derby?
A: I try and describe roller derby to people, and those who have had sports they have fallen in love with in the past understand – but most people don’t understand how you can fall so in love with something that isn’t a person. So I try to tell them how amazing it is, but it's hard to put that into words, so usually I just say: give it a go – you don’t know your own potential till you try. It’s the best decision I ever made, and it may be yours too.