Age Is Just a Number: Derby Over 40

By Saturday Night Special

Some people often refer to being 40 as “over the hill,” meaning you’re “old” or past your “prime.” It’s an age that society believes has a distinct image of what middle-aged women should look, and act, like. Taking risks and trying new things is sometimes frowned upon and often met with, “Aren’t you a little old for that?” 40 is an age where women are expected to be soccer moms, join book clubs, or get involved in other “age appropriate” activities. Some women look at 40 as something that inhibits them, but there are a select few who look at age as just a number. 40 to these ladies isn’t something to fear; in fact, some look at it as a challenge that they’re more than willing to face head on and embrace.
So, who are these women? Who are these ladies that break the mold of 40? What kind of woman decides that now is the best time to to play roller derby? 

Oxymormon decided to join SFV right after she turned 40. The mom of four has been playing for a little over a year now. When asked if she felt if her age affected her outlook on playing derby, she answered, “I NEVER thought about my age when I started, or my ability. I only noticed it once when one of the other skaters that was participating in the fresh meat program with me had just graduated high school.” The determining factor for Oxy joining derby was that she wanted to try something new. “I’m always telling my kids to try new things, and since I never tried roller derby before, I figured that I might as well do it now.”

Photo by Tristan King Photography

Photo by Tristan King Photography

“It has improved every aspect of my life,” Napalm answered when asked how derby has changed her. “My zest for living has returned, which in turn, makes me want to workout more.” Napalm joined SFV at 46 in May of 2014. She is currently on The Fer Sures travel team and The Reseda Wreckers home team. Much like her league mate, Oxy, she didn’t allow her age to detour her from pursuing her dream of playing roller derby. When asked asked about what her first practice with SFV was like, she said, “I felt at home. I knew that everything that was happening in my life was meant to be. Playing derby at my age has made me realize that life has many new beginnings. Anything is possible, including career choices, advancements, and continuing education.”
Cleo-passya joined SFV at the age of 38 and is now only months away from turning the big 4-0. We asked Cleo if she felt that she had to work harder than her younger teammates, she answered, “No, I don’t feel I have to work harder, but derby has motivated me to try harder and push myself in ways I’ve never pushed myself before.” But age can have its advantages, “I’d say my biggest advantage over younger skaters is being confident on my skates,” Cleo said. “That only comes from years of practice. Skating Balboa Park for 10 years has taught me how to skate defensively, which helps me on the track.” Even though Cleo never played other sports in her adult life, that didn’t inhibit her from snagging a spot on SFV’s All-Star team, The Like OMGs. She also plays on the home team, The Balboa Bandits.
"In my 20's and 30's I played on a co-ed softball team for almost 10 years,” American Hurl Doll replied when asked about her previous sports experiences. “It was more about having fun, being part of a team, and doing something athletic.” Hurlie, as she often referred to, also joined SFV at 46. We asked her what her first practice was like, she responded, “I was more concerned with the other skaters and trainers thinking I was too old to play derby, but that never happened.” Hurlie has been playing with SFV for about a year now and is one of the newest additions to The Like OMGs, as well as being one of the first members of The Balboa Bandits. “We women are strong. As strong as we want to be and shouldn’t be deterred by what society thinks we should be,” she explained. “Honestly, they way American society treats people in their 40’s and 50’s is disgraceful, like we’re supposed to get our AARP cards and wait for death.”
SFV has many ladies 40 and over, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by the way that they play. We asked all these ladies the question, what advice would they give to other ladies out there who are 40 and over and are considering joining roller derby? They all replied with the same three words, “Just do it.” They all agreed that derby has changed their lives for the better in multiple ways. It’s given them self-confidence, better health, and an entire league of new friends. It also helped them to discover that they are capable of so much more than they realized, both physically and mentally. There is no ideal age in order to participate in this full contact sport. Sure, having the energy and knee joints of an 18-year-old couldn’t hurt, but they aren’t something that is going to inhibit you from reaching your goals in derby. This is the beauty of modern roller derby, there’s a place for everyone, no matter what age. So if you’re thinking that you might be “too old” to begin playing, think again. Forget what society believes you should do and “just do it.”   

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