Originally Published 9 August 2019

There are so many things I love about Roller Derby: the fitness, the challenge, the league mates, the laughs, the community, and promoting women’s sport. I think my favourite thing is what I found in the club, and that’s a group of fantastic individuals who have become my second family. We spend a lot of time training – after a while, you don’t even realise how much you grow attached to these people. They really do become your best friends and the go-to people in your life.

My name is Valentina Nicosia and I work in banking. Specifically, I’m an EMEA Compliance Officer Sanctions Senior Analyst. In a nutshell, I analyse transactions to ensure no funny business is happening. I chose this job because I always liked attention to detail and puzzle-like brain teasers. This job feels like I’m trying to find a pattern, or spotting something that is not like the others.

I have not always lived in Dublin, but I am fortunate enough to call Dublin home for the last 15 years. Growing up, my dad had the type of job that made us move every 5 years or so. I’ve been lucky enough to live in various places (Algiers, Los Angeles, Montevideo, and Rome) before settling here. Our last ‘family move’ was Dublin, where I went to college and ended up staying.

Photo by Chancleta Fernandez and Carla Manija

I first became interested in Roller Derby about 6 years ago – I started the Learn to Skate program with Dublin Roller Derby (DRD). I was at a Comic-Con in Dublin, and one of the artists was promoting their Roller Derby book. We started chatting, and it turned out that he and his wife were involved with their local Roller Derby League. At the time, I really wanted to learn how to roller skate, so a quick internet search led me to DRD. It was fate.

I am a blocker for our A-Team at Dublin Roller Derby (on the track, my name is Valdemort, but everyone calls me Val or V, for short). I try to vary during our weekly mock games and play as pivot or jammer. I also had a short stint as a jammer when I played with the B-Team. I’m trying to learn how to referee as well, which is a lot harder than I thought.

The main equipment you need for Roller Derby is, obviously, skates! We have to wear a series of protective gear for safety. We have to wear helmets, mouthguards, wrists and elbow pads, and knee pads. It may sound like a lot, but the main thing in roller derby is promoting a safe contact sport. That’s why there are also 7 referees per game!

Photo by Jürgen Ziegler

Roller Derby is a full-contact sport. So, with that, mental preparation is key to ensure you don’t have any surprises on the track. You need to be aware of yourself, your body, and others on the track. Training to be constantly aware is hard, but time and experience help. Also, it’s a highly competitive sport – at times, you have to perform and play under stress and pressure. There’s also the mental stuff that can be associated with everyday life – believing in yourself, trusting your teammates, and having the confidence needed to perform.

Being a contact sport, it’s also important to ‘prepare’ your body. When you start off your roller derby journey, you learn to skate, fall and stop. As you progress, your body gets a chance to adapt and learn other skills, such as how to hit and receive hits. The more you go on and the more competitive you want to be, the more training hours on skates you get to attend.

Photo by Anja Wettergren Photography

I have a few favourite experiences with my Roller Derby. One of them was the first time we made Division 2 Championships in 2017. A few teams ahead of us had to drop out, meaning we got bumped up and had to organise ourselves to go to Pittsburgh on a month’s notice. For a team who seeded last and wasn’t even meant to be there, we came in fourth! Last year, we also won silver at the European Cup. It was so great because, well, we got a medal! Because we had worked so hard on our team goals, it was great to see us play the high-level game we wanted to achieve.

In general, I love all the USA trips I get to take with the team. We always have fun amidst the high adrenaline and high competition weekends we play in order to climb up the ranking ladder. Everything is also self-funded, so knowing we have a common passion like this is amazing.

Photo by Anja Wettergren Photography

I also did PR for Dublin Roller Derby. Every year, there are a number of positions the club needs to function – we try and get people to volunteer for them. One of the members on the Board of Directors asked me if I’d consider running for Head of PR. I got the role and stayed on it for two years. I learned that I really loved spreading the word of this fantastic sport and discovered a passion for PR.

We have a few future goals with our Roller Derby. Overall, the league would love to get Junior Roller Derby started. Then there’s the dream of getting our own venue. In terms of competition, we want to play the highest level we can, meaning the A-Team wants to get into Division 1 Playoffs, which is a step up from the European Cup we’re attending again this year (as the first seed!). For the B and C Teams, that means increasing their rankings and getting tougher games.

Photo by Jürgen Ziegler

My advice to anyone interested in playing Roller Derby is to just try it. Remember that 99% of us didn’t know how to skate before. We all had to start somewhere. Come see a game, talk to any of us, and see for yourself the passion oozing from everyone!

We also have a website you can have a look at – all the contact details to take part are there. There’s a place for everyone: players, referees, non-skating officials, volunteers. Roller Derby is an extremely open and accepting place. If you want to lend a hand or learn a new thing, we’re more than happy to welcome you.

I think it’s super important to share the passions of technologists! None of us are defined by one thing – we have so many broad interests that make us who we are. And you never know; you may have more in common than you think. Or even better, you could find a new hobby!

Photo by Jürgen Ziegler

Feature Photo by Jürgen Ziegler. To get involved with Dublin Roller Derby, be sure to check the following link:


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