Eva McCloskey (or “Evilicious,” if she’s laced up) has no time for the stereotypes that often color public perception of Roller Derby.
“Only once you see a game live do you have an appreciation for the immense amount of dedication, strategy and training involved,” the captain of the Brooklyn Bombshells, a team in the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league, told The Huffington Post.
McCloskey feels that too many dismiss the sport she loves as a theatrical display of female wrestling ― a sweeping simplification that not only diminishes the sport’s fierce athleticism, but the values it espouses.
As one of the few sports that is defined by its female leagues, a feminist ethos colors every aspect of the game ― from the tattoos, piercings, and gritty pink skates found on the crash pad, to the type of dedicated athletes involved. Roller Derby women celebrate the diversity in their body types, ages, and sexual identities. The sport offers an alternative vision of what a successful, competitive athlete looks like, and this spirit extends beyond teams, leagues, and national borders.
“You could pop down a skater in a new country and with a little bit of outreach you could find a group of friendly people who will take you in and invite you to practice with them,” McCloskey said.
As the sport becomes more popular and professional ― some skaters hope that Roller Derby will be an Olympic sport one day ― the women who have spearheaded its rise intend to preserve the game’s feminist ethos.
“Because everyone has been so involved in leading the sport since the beginning, everyone is trying to continue to do that in a really smart way and maintain control in terms of how we’re broadcast and who we’re talking to with international and national sponsorships,” said McClosky.
Watch the video above to meet the athletes who are not only role models for the next generation of skaters, but girls everywhere.
Video produced, shot and edited by Savannah O’Leary, motion graphics by Isabella Carapella and Adam Glucksman