“Can anybody be given a great deal of creativity? No. They can be given the equipment to develop it – if they have it in them in the first place.” –George Shearing
One of the biggest problems I have had since I joined a roller derby league eight months ago is finding the perfect pair of roller skates.
Dutch Oven, who has skated with Mad Rollin’ Dolls of Madison, Wis. for more than five years, came to one of Southern Delaware Roller Girls’ recent practices. She and many other skaters are of the school of thought that it’s the person, not the equipment that makes a good skater.
I agree to an extent, but wouldn’t any skater improve with the right supplies? Surely, a professional photographer could take great pictures with a disposable point-and-shoot camera, but imagine what they could do with a digital SLR that gives them more control over the shot.
Control is something I lack in my skates. Despite the fact that the smooth, blue top layer of leather has been peeling off since the first day I used them, my skates feel no more broken in after months of wear and tear than they did when I first put them on.
They are boxy, they are stiff and no matter how tightly or loosely I lace them, my toes and the arch of my foot always go numb. And trust me, it’s more than a little difficult to maneuver around other skaters and stay inbounds when you can’t feel where you’re placing your foot.
Buying the correct skate size is another headache, especially because retail options for roller derby equipment in Southern Delaware are utterly nonexistent, giving skaters no opportunity to try on skates and find the correct size.
Instead, we all spend hundreds of dollars with the click of a mouse and cross our fingers that the month-long waiting period to get skates in the mail is not proceeded by an even longer waiting period to return them for a different size.
As luck would have it, I was preparing for a two-day trip to New York City by scanning the New York Times website, when I ran across this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/nyregion/five-stride-a-skate-shop-focused-on-roller-derby.html.
I knew the hotel where I was staying was in Manhattan, and the skate shop was in Brooklyn. I also knew my knowledge of New York public transit was extremely lacking. But it didn’t matter; I had to go.
To my surprise, the shop was easy to get to. I took the Q line from Times Square, then jumped on the L train to Brooklyn, and before I knew it, I was standing outside of Five Stride Skate Shop. The small store specializes in roller derby, and its two owners, Bonnie Thunders and OMG WTF, are skaters on Gotham Girls Roller Derby of New York City – one of the best leagues in the country.
I told OMG every issue I have with my skates. She asked my price-point, measured my foot and, after a few minutes, gave me three options for skates, which she quickly narrowed down to one. It was all too good to be true.
Until she told me my personal, perfect pair of skates was out of stock, and I would have to wait for them in the mail. It figures.
At least now I know the skates are exactly what I want, thanks to OMG. She even let me choose the wheels I wanted on the skates (but wheels are a blog post all their own).
For new and seasoned skaters, I highly recommend buying skates face-to-face from someone who knows what they’re talking about. When my skates arrive, I expect they will at least save me a few penalties on the rink and at most a few headaches off the rink.