Roller Derby, Comradery and Body Positivity

How roller derby taught me to be body positive.

I joined Roller Derby in April 2016 and it was the best decision I’ve made in a long while. Before Roller Derby, I detested team sports. That may be too strong a word, but they just weren’t for me. I always felt excluded, not good enough and generally clueless about what was going on. This isn’t the case with roller derby.

Roller derby is a high contact sport played on skates. It consists of 8 players on track, 2 teams, 4 blockers and a jammer on each. Jammers race around the track scoring points for each blocker they pass. Blockers can play offence or defense and block the opposing jammer from passing, while helping their own pass through. Jammers are typically known for their speed and agility while blockers are typically known for their strength.

This extreme sport is dominated by women at present but more men are joining. When people ask me to describe roller derby, I tell them it’s like playing rugby, on skates, without a ball. If high contact doesn’t appeal to you, you can be a referee. You still learn to skate but without the contact. If you don’t fancy being on skates at all, you can sign up to be a non-skating official (NSO). This person helps the team especially with games, by scorekeeping, penalty tracking and so much more. You get a front seat to the derby action without the bruises. Yes, there will be lots of pretty wheel shapes bruises you can show off to your friends and family.

I found out about roller derby through the movie “Whip It” and thought: “Hey, I could be good at this.” So I went in search of roller derby in Cork and came across the Cork City Firebirds. Delighted! I saw they were having a recruitment day and there was nmeo way I was going to miss it.

A big aspect of derby is choosing your derby name. You have the opportunity to reinvent yourself and choosing your name is a long and tough process that can take ages. Sometimes you want your name to reflect who you are. If you want players to think you’re tough and mean take heed from firebird Debbie whose derby name is Debestator! I wanted a name that reflected strength, include my real name and be a pun. I couldn’t come up with one myself, but my team-mate did. Introducing … ArMEGeddon.

Eventually I arrived, slightly terrified, but excited. When I first started skating, I was like a deer on ice, a bit like Bambi. There was no doubt about whether I would join or not, the doubt lied in whether I would stay upright in skates! It’s one thing starting something, but it’s a completely different thing staying with it.

A big factor that motivated me to stay was the change in attitude towards how I feel about my body and the constant continued support from every single firebird. With roller derby, the vibes are different , you feel like you finally belong.  You don’t need to be a certain height or weight to excel, every body type is accepted. As firebird Criona (Derby Name: Rainbow Blight) put it: “Roller Derby is filled with an ever amazing array of women and men of all different sizes, shapes, characters, temperaments and backgrounds, which contribute to making every player’s approach and way of playing unique.”

juhbBefore I joined roller derby, I had this idea that my thighs were a bit too big, my arms were a bit too flabby, everything generally had something wrong with it, something always had to change. I know that I’m not alone in this thinking, and I know there’s plenty of articles out there telling me to embrace what I have. Are we really going to believe some “inspirational” words written on a computer screen? Are we meant to be in awe of some “life-changing” advice ? Well, I did and I was, for a short while. I would start planning my outfit for my next night out making sure it showed off all my curves because I was now a Goddess. Then 5 minutes later I’d catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and revert back to my normal way of thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I do love what I have already but I couldn’t help feeling that I’d love myself that little bit more if I could change something. That was until I found roller derby.

Shortly after joining, there was a team night out. My friend and I went and we were chatting to the existing members. I’ll always remember being told they were delighted to see us at recruitment day because we weren’t exactly ‘petite’ people. We had a bit more meat and muscle on our bones. The fact that my big legs and flabby arms were needed for a sport was an alien concept to me at first.

How I see myself now is completely different to how I used to. I’m now a fulltime Goddess instead of part time one, even when I’m a big sweaty mess from training. Big thighs mean strong thighs that can be used for balance and holding my position to keep a jammer from passing through. Flabby arms mean opportunity to get a whole lot stronger to knock blockers and jammers off track.

I no longer look at my body as something that needs to be changed or as something that doesn’t fit society’s image of what works and what doesn’t. My focus isn’t on changing something to benefit my aesthetic so that I’m more pleasing for a stranger to look at and comment on. My focus is being the best I can be, because I love what I’m doing, which in turn benefits other aspects of my life, including my physical and mental health. Paula (Derby Name: Punches) summed up roller derby as “such an awesome way of getting fit. It’s so much fun you don’t even realise you’re becoming an athlete until you look down at your thighs of steel one day and think ‘roller derby did that’ and then you air high five yourself.”

I joined roller derby because I wanted to get fit, I stayed because I’ll never have to do it alone.


Live Streaming: A critical tool in Event Management

Let me ask you a question, when was the last time you were at an event? When was the last time you were part of the event management team? I don’t mean physically, I mean virtually. For me? It was October 28th 2016.


Live Streaming isn’t a particularly new phenomenon in event management. News and sports stations have been live streaming current events and sports matches for years to our televisions. Now live streaming is recorded on mobile devices to mobile devices. It has grown exponentially in recent years since we took control of what we want to see.

Paving the way in the event management industry with live-streaming was Youtube live leading the way and along came Google hangout, Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope. Events are often  limited in capacity. The people behind them are constantly trying to increase the number of people attending so why not stretch into the cyber  realm as well?

Cork City radio station Redfm, recently won a prestigious radio award and wanted to celebrate in style. They held celebrations in the Metropole Hotel Cork City and invited Irish band  “Picture This” down to play. Redfm used Twitter’s periscope to  live-stream the event. People that weren’t  at the event could still attend (virtually of course) because of the live stream. When the live-stream finished, it saves as a video on their Twitter profile so non attendees can watch post-event and attendees can re-live it and perhaps, spot themselves in the video.

Go beyond event management with live-streaming

Live-Streaming is not just for event management. Lots of movie stars, T.V personalities and music artists host live Q & A’s using Facebook Live. Arrow’s Stephan Amell and spoken word artist Scroobius Pip, both frequently host interviews with their fans. Fans can comment with questions to ask which appear in real time on the celebrity’s feed. A really cool feature of this is that when the video saves afterwards, people’s comments appear at the time they were posted throughout the duration of the video.

I feel Facebook trumps Twitter on live-streaming because of its integration of the process. Twitter does not have Periscope integrated into its app, meaning a person must download it separately  to use it. With Facebook, its integrated meaning a person can use it with as little effort as possible. Some may not see an issue with download Periscope separately to use it but but a major drawback is that people may not have the storage space to do so, or they just don’t want another app clogging their phone. There’s already enough applications to compete with so why not make it as attractive as possible to the consumer.

People are constantly on their smartphones, checking in to places, checking out places, scrolling through news feeds and timelines, liking, commenting, sharing re tweeting which can sometimes make event management difficult, or revolutionise it. Most people are always connected to the internet and less inclined to leave their homes especially when the weather isn’t favourable, so why not bring your event to them. While they’re scrolling through their news feed and timelines why not make them stop to look at something a bit different? It could be the decider in them attending your next one.

Live streaming isn’t a new phenomenon in event management but it’s popularity these days is. No event runs without a hashtag and soon no event will run without a live-stream but this is already happening on a smaller scale with snapchat, where people record 10 seconds of an event to send to their Snapchat friends. To be successful with live streaming, you need a good wifi connection to get connected and a great event to keep people interested.










Viva la (Internet) Revolution!

Recently  Jackie Dawson of the Kinsale 7’s spoke of how the internet has changed the events industry. She lists video, photography, websites, social media and email as crucial tools to arm yourself when going online and uses Facebook, Twitter, Websites and E-mail to communicate with participants and attendees.

Event Management has drastically changed since the adoption on the internet, most promotional tools are online and some people rely on the internet for all of their event promotion. I have looked at relatively new music festival 96/1 to see how they are using digital techniques to promote.

Image designed by Sarah Mackey Media

96/1 is a music festival that has 96 original bands and artists play on one weekend for the past 2 years.  The aim of the festival is to promote the live music scene in Ireland. They hope to have 60% of acts from Cork and the rest from around the country. This event creates a free music trail around Cork City incorporating a number of bars on the last weekend of August.

Events always incorporate a hashtag, 96/1 is no different. #96over1musicfest was used across their Facebook and Twitter to allow attendees upload their experiences as they were happening. There was multiple venues to choose from to see live music. Bars and venues that hosted the live music shared videos of what was happening along with attendees. 96/1 then shared the videos on their page. Because you can’t be everywhere at once, this was a great tactic to get a taster of what was going on elsewhere.

Professional videography is also a very important aspect of online communications. Jackie Dawson mentioned video as an important tool since the adoption of the internet and says to invest in a professional video. 96/1 produced a documentary about the festival itself and an after movie to show how successful the festival was. An after-movie was also produced which reminds attendees about their experience and provide non-attendees an idea of what it was like to be there and perhaps, go next year.

Websites have always been used as a traditional promotional technique but has evolved into a different use now. Websites were primarily used for sources of information and points of contact but Facebook has took over that role. Websites are now seen as a way to reinforce credibility.

Traditionally, newspapers would review an event. This is still on going, but other reputable websites do too and can direct people back to your website or page, increasing popularity. These external websites could issue the call for bands to play the gig. Before the internet, you would have to rely on offline promotional techniques like posters, newspaper ads, word of mouth and press releases etc. Attendees become reviewers and recruiters too, mostly using social media.  Social Media allows your message to be carried further because of it’s ever growing popularity

The internet has also allowed crises to be managed better. A realistic crisis to occur are bands unavailable to play the event at last minute. Thanks to the internet, this can be fixed quickly. In real time you find the problem and solve it by issuing a Facebook post and spread the word that you need a band. Before, you would have to rely solely on the contacts you had.

The Event Management Industry has changed phenomenally since the adoption of the internet. A lot of activities have moved online such as recruitment and promotion. It is important to keep up with the trends in online promotion techniques to ensure you don’t lose touch with your audience. The digital world is ever changing and it is more important now than ever before, to change with it.