5 Things I Learned from Roller Derby

Sister Sledgehammer

As some of you might know, I co-founded and used to skate with the Windy City Rollers, an all-women’s roller derby league here in Chicago. And, even though I got married, moved to the suburbs and had kids, the team is still going strong, enjoying packed stadiums and traveling the country in search of its first National Championship.

During the few years that I was actively involved in the league, I learned A LOT. So I had a brainstorm yesterday, and decided to see how I could apply the myriad lessons that I learned into something that you might find useful. Here goes.

1. Size Doesn’t Matter.—In this game, the small and the tall can dominate. Little wisps of girls can kick a giant’s butt, and I’ve seen some lightening-quick skating from girls that could be linebackers for the Bears.

The point is, you use what God gave you. Even if you are a one-person shop, you can be a huge success by your own standards. And, if you are a giant organization, you can still enjoy an intimate work environment with productive, engaged employees through some good communication and an open door.

2. It’s NEVER too late.—With such a physically demanding sport, you might expect to see athletes in their early 20s on the track. Not so. I myself was 35 when the league got going. In fact, my Dad said to me, “You know, most athletes by the time they are YOUR age are retiring.” Thanks Pop. A lot of the women that joined us said they had always been “searching for a place to belong” and this finally fit the bill for them.

Well, the same could be true for you. New technology, new systems, or even new customers could be just the thing you have been quietly searching for. Are your eyes open?

Now working as a consultant, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include client recovery, retention and acquisition, and marketing communications projects.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league.

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  • http://Doug Doug

    Really? Roller Derby!

  • http://Jon Jon

    Great article, Kelly!

    I think you were dead on regarding the importance of atmosphere in the workplace and the need to shake things up and keep life exciting!

    Here in Dallas, we’re big supporters of Assassination City Roller Derby, who just moved into a gorgeous arena downtown (from the mom and pop rink they’ve been at for years).

    Again, thanks for the insight and good luck at Graph Expo!

  • http://Pat Pat

    Terrific article Kelly – as usual. Thank you for sharing.

  • http://TJTedesco TJ Tedesco

    Kelly – Even though I love this blog post, I’m now afraid of you!

  • http://KelliEizenga(TerraFye) Kelli Eizenga (Terra Fye)

    Relating roller derby to ‘everyday life’ is something that I do a lot. You did a great job with this post and hopefully some people take your insightful words into consideration!

    (PS- Thanks again for bringing derby to Chicago and into my life….it really is a life-changing thing).
    Long Live Sister!

  • http://johnpolvino john polvino


    You might be the girl of my dreams….
    OK- great insight and thank you for being bold to share common sense.

  • http://DarrenGapen Darren Gapen

    Hey Kelly,

    Those were some great thoughts!

    Great writers as well as comedians make people relate the stories and the jokes to personal past experiences and a glance at life in general.

    I have always felt if more people would take a
    look at their lives and incorporate all of the good
    habits and practices and actually learn from the
    bad, their businesses would be much more prosperous.

    Keep up the great commentary. Lord how I know the many hours involved in writing good articles.

    And good luck at Graph. I hope to see you there.