In this festive season, we thought it might be fun to think about some of the gifts that Roller Derby has given us here at Neon Skates.  Most were surprises but all have been appreciated.  What has derby given you?

1. New Boots

We knew we had shins, and they must be good for something but after 6 years of playing derby, our shin bones are officially now invisible under the rippling shin muscles that we've developed.  This comes mostly from all of the footwork where toes are lifted or weight is shifted to the heels.  So, what happens when you develop shin muscles? You play derby like a boss, but you don't fit in your knee high boots anymore.  So, time for new boots that show off our derby shins!

2. Yoga Pants

Because nothing else can contain derby booties.  Stretchy jeans are a must but gosh it feels good to put on a pair of yoga pants that let our glutes roam free. You're welcome yoga industry, we are secretly your biggest customers.

3. Safety

When you live in the great white North, you're never safe.  Whether it's polar bears, rogue moose or angry hockey parents, you always have to be diligent.  But nothing can be more useful than a sense of balance on ice.  And thanks to derby, what could have been many opportunities for broken hips have actually just been enjoyable surfs down the sidewalk. 

4. Glory

You may never find yourself in this position, but we have, surprisingly often, and when people find out that you play roller derby, some are overcome by the intense desire to see if they can beat you at a "squat off".  The good news is, they can't.  Thanks to those derby stances you've been in for months or maybe years, you will win, big time.  Enjoy the bragging.

5. Popularity

We now have an endless supply of material for parties with non derby players.  You become automatically the most interesting person in the room and depending on their generation you inevitably get compared to Skinny Minnie Miller or Whip It.  Embrace this new found popularity but for the love of the sport, please clarify that no, there are no elbows or punching.

6. An Entire Wardrobe

Of t-shirts that is.  Most players end up with a drawer dedicated to the shirts that come from their own teams, teams they've played and all others they come across along the way.  You also develop a shockingly strong opinion on shirt manufacturers such as Gildan, Bella or American Apparel.

7. Road Trips

Nothing says bonding like 6-8 hours in a car with people you don't know all that well but who you've knocked to the ground on countless occasions.  From finding out they also love Disney musicals, to throwing grapes at fellow cars in your convoy, traveling distances to play a single game just somehow seems unbelievably worth it.

8. Mentorship

This sport only grows and thrives through the growth and sharing of knowledge between skaters.  Here at Neon, all of our staff are also coaches so this is one of our favorite gifts, the gift of giving back what we've had the opportunity to learn.  But this gift also includes the courage to share what we know and the realization that it has value to others. There is something so unbelievably satisfying in seeing a skater learn 10 times faster than we ever did.

So, that's our list of little surprises we're thankful for.  Tell us what unexpected gift you received from Roller Derby.