Derby name

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"Isabelle Ringer" of the San Diego Derby Dolls displays her derby name while coaching a group of skaters.

A derby name, roller derby name or skater name is a nickname used by a skater while playing or officiating roller derby.

Derby names can be seen as an opportunity to adopt an alternative on-track persona.[1] Many derby names are puns, and in some cases this may extend to the skater's number.[2] Other names may be chosen to reflect a skater's playing style or ability.[3] Tablet Magazine describes the ideal derby name as showing "both aggression and humor" and "reveal[ing] something about the skater".[4] For example, Hydra, a former Texas Rollergirls skater, chose her name in part due to her profession as a hydrologist, and in part in reference to the mythological creature.[5] Fagundes suggests that the ideal derby name "sounds something like a real name", in that it has a plausible first- and last-name, "connects to derby", and contributes to an "overall persona". He gives LA Derby Dolls skater Tara Armov as an example of an ideal-type name.[6]

Although some skaters in pre-2000 banked track roller derby did have nicknames, the tradition of derby names did not emerge until the early-2000s revival in Austin, Texas, which was mirrored by Ivanna S. Pankin of Arizona Roller Derby, who had previously used her derby name while working as a musician.[6]

Around 40,000 skater names are registered on the International Rollergirls' Master Roster.[7] The roster originated as a spreadsheet kept by Hydra. In November 2004, Axles of Evil proposed that a centralised record of derby names be created, and Hydra then launched the roster publicly.[8] Hydra passed responsibility for the roster to Paige Burner, Soylent Mean and Jelly HoNut late the following year, by which point it already had more than two thousand entries.[6]

Despite its name, the roster also includes the derby names of male skaters, referees and other officials.[9] Names on the roster are not permitted to be identical or very similar to pre-existing entries.[5] There are some other restrictions, such as prohibitions on names starting with possessives, ending with gerunds, or very general, such as "Skater".[8]

Many leagues will only submit derby names to the roster once a skater has shown significant commitment to the sport.[8] For example, it took more than four months of practice before Nicole Williams adopted her derby name, "Bonnie Thunders".[10]

A few skaters choose to trademark their roller derby names,[5] and this practice may occasionally lead to conflict. For example, when Mad Rollin' Dolls skater Crackerjack attempted to trademark her name, in order to license it for use in a video game, she was sued by the manufacturers of the Cracker Jack snack food.[3]

Skaters are not required to use derby names, and a few do skate under their legal names. This may be due to dissatisfaction with the name which they used in the past,[11] or, like leading London Rollergirls skater Stephanie Mainey, in an effort to legitimise the sport.[12] Other skaters counter that derby names are an important part of the culture of the sport, and reflect the use of nicknames in many other sports.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Anthony Breznican, "Having a roller-derby name is 'kind of like being a superhero", USA Today, 8 July 2009
  2. ^ Julie Ann Grimm, "Rebels in the rink", Santa Fe New Mexican, 30 March 2008
  3. ^ a b Katjusar Cisar, "FRITO-LAY SUING ROLLER DERBY SKATER OVER USE OF 'CRACKERJACK'", The Capital Times, 15 April 2009
  4. ^ Marjorie Ingall, "I Wish They All Could Be Jewish Derby Girls", Tablet Magazine, 28 October 2010
  5. ^ a b c Catherine Mabe, Roller Derby: The History and All-Girl Revival of the Greatest Sport on Wheels, pp.44-45
  6. ^ a b c David Fagundes, "Talk Derby to Me: Intellectual Property Norms Governing Roller Derby Pseudonyms[permanent dead link]", Texas Law Review, vol.90, pp.1093-1152
  7. ^ "International Rollergirls' Master Roster", accessed 12 November 2012
  8. ^ a b c d Alex Cohen and Jennifer Barbee, Down and Derby: The Insider's Guide to Roller Derby
  9. ^ "Master Roster Rules", International Rollergirls' Master Roster
  10. ^ Adam Nichols, "Black & Blue & Girl All Over", New York Daily News, 5 March 2006
  11. ^ Nicole Cox, "The Big Derby Name Debate: Deciding to Skate as Me Archived 2012-11-25 at the Wayback Machine", Derby Life, 18 September 2012
  12. ^ Georgia Krokus and Katherine Wright, "Ultraviolent Femmes: it's fast. It's furious. It's all the rage in England", Curve, 1 April 2011