The parking lot at Northside Library was closed for the early part of the day on Sept. 19 as staffers set up for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Derby. First, library visitors participated in a Skype chat with “Roller Girl” author Victoria Jamieson. Next, the Silicon Valley Roller Girls provided a window into roller derby culture through a question and answer session. The event culminated in a parking lot free skate for library visitors and the Roller Girls. About 160 people participated in the festivities.
“‘Roller Girl’ is a graphic novel about a girl named Astrid who has a friend. And the friendship is okay but she’s starting to learn she has different interests than her friend,” says Cheryl Lee, branch manager and program coordinator of Northside Library. “So Astrid goes to her first roller derby game…She goes from being a normal girl to being a roller derby girl, with a new nickname, a new blue hair color and a new friend.”
Gracing a giant screen in the front of the library’s community room was the image of Jamieson wearing a necklace reading “POW.” While discussing “Roller Girl,” she shared that a faded friendship from her youth inspired her to create the book. On a positive note, she added that she has since reconnected with that friend.
“[‘Roller Girl] is my first graphic novel,” Jamieson says. “You really don’t need anything fancy to make your own comics or your own graphic novels. Basically my tools are a pencil and a bunch of pens…. I love ‘Smile’ This is one of the first graphic novels that I read….It really inspired me to write ‘Roller Girl.’ [El Deafo] is another one of my favorite graphic novels.”
After Jamieson’s Skype visit, the Silicon Valley Roller Girls dished about their life on wheels. Present were members of the adult league, 18 and up, and of the junior league, 7 to 17.
Acknowledging that roller derby is a full contact sport, one girl admitted “I enjoy knocking others down.” Many admit they’d been sent to the penalty box before.
Allowing each player to assign herself a derby name is also part of the roller derby culture.
“I’m Bunny Fu Fu,” Valerie Terry introduces herself. “My Chinese astrological sign is the rabbit. Rabbits might seem like soft cuddly creatures, but they’re actually very tough and fast.”
“I’m an artist and a graphic designer and I go by Georgia O’Grief,” says Kaitlin Carroll, proudly showing off her helmet featuring a Georgia O’Keefe painting.
By noon, the Silicon Valley Roller Girls and young library visitors had made their way into the empty parking lot. Aloha Roller Rink provided free skate rentals. D.J. Kevin began playing nostalgic tunes from the Beach Boys, the Village People, and Cyndi Lauper. For the next hour, both new and experienced skaters circled through the parking lot while soaking up the last few days of summer.