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Power Jam: A Roller Derby Love Story

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So with the current global lockdown, roller derby has been essentially canceled for the year. It's already been more than six months since I've played with my team and I really miss derby, so I'm channeling my sadness into a Claire and Jamie roller derby-tastic fic. 

 

A few notes and disclaimers for those unfamiliar with the sport that will be helpful as you read the first chapter and beyond.

 

Roller derby is a competitive contact sport played on quad skates (four wheels in a square as opposed to rollerblades, wheels in one straight line). It is largely a female-dominated sport, though not exclusively. As a whole, derby is also a highly inclusive and progressive community, welcoming people from varied backgrounds as well as LGBTQ+ persons. 

Basic gameplay: five players from each team take the track in a group called the pack. One player on each team is the jammer, who scores points. The other four players are blockers. Their goal is to break out of the pack then skate around the track, catch back up, and do it again. Blockers play both offense and defense (helping their jammer through the pack while preventing the opposing jammer from passing.) Jammers score a point for each blocker of the opposing team that they pass. You do this for up to two minutes at a time, called a jam.

The game is played in a counter-clockwise direction on a oval-shaped track; think like a running track but smaller. In general, games are staffed by about seven or eight referees on both the outside and inside of the track. Each jammer (the scoring player) is assigned a referee whose sole job is to watch their jammer and calculate points scored. 

If players receive penalties, they sit out 30 seconds in the penalty box. If a jammer receives a penalty, it is known as a power jam since the opposing jammer is the only one able to score points for the length of the penalty. 

The jam clock and game clock are different things. You'll see in the first chapter that, though the game clock runs out mid-jam, the jam continues either to its natural conclusion or until it's called off by the lead jammer. Lead jammer (whoever is first to escape the pack) has the ability to end the jam, which comes in handy as you can rack up as many points as possible then end the jam before your opponents get to score. 

Players also traditionally choose "derby names," a tough-sounding pun, to serve as their alter-ego on the track. Again, it's not universal and more players have opted to use their real names recently, but derby names are a fun way to create your own derby persona in the community and have a bit of fun. You'll see many examples in the story to come. 

 

 

If you're interested in basic gameplay, this is a short video explaining how the game works. I'll try not to lean too heavily on super niche descriptions of the game -- for me, it's more the atmosphere that matters for the story -- but knowing some basics may help understand the story and world better. 

 

This handy guide by the Women's Flat Track Derby Association is also helpful!

I'm US-based and am on a very small rec team. I do not believe rules or customs vary greatly between the US and Scotland/rest of the world, but if there are any discrepancies, I apologize. I'm also fairly new to this community -- this would have been my second year and my first playing season -- so I may make mistakes or get things wrong, but I'm doing my best to be as true to life in gameplay, rules, and atmosphere as possible. 

I also know nothing about Scottish teams, players, etc.; it's set in Scotland because Outlander, but I'm kinda flying blind here. Any similarities to actual people, teams, players, etc. are purely coincidental. I am in no way partnered with or affiliated with any Scottish roller derby teams or players.

I also am not affiliated with the Women's Flat Track Derby Association and do not in any way speak for them. 

 

That all said, roller derby is awesome, and there's truly a role for anyone who wants to give it a try. Even if you've never skated before (the literal first thing I did after putting skates on my first practice was fall on my ass...so don't worry, you can be taught!) or aren't interested in skating /contact (we always need non-skating officials -- NSOs -- for games!). So if this sounds like a community you're interested in, no matter your gender or gender identity, you should look into possible teams and leagues in your area. 

Phew, all right. That was a lot. Now on to enjoy the fic! (First chapter coming momentarily, if it's not posted yet.)