Richardson, the fiscal administrator in UVA’s astronomy department, spent about 10 years with the Derby Dames, but no longer competes. Now she is training University students to play flat-track roller derby. The students practice evenings in a large, flat parking lot behind the astronomy building, after the astronomers and Facilities Management employees have left, developing skills they can later use to join roller derby teams.
Second-year psychology major Helena Nguyen, from Springfield, knew how to skate, but said learning roller derby carried other lessons for her.
“Roller derby is more than just roller skating because it also requires teamwork, control and courage,” Nguyen said. “You really have to leave your comfort zone in order to play positions that might be intimidating. You also have to make sure you and all of your teammates are communicating properly. Whether you are a part of the ‘wall’ that blocks off the jammers, or you are a jammer yourself, every teammate is valuable.”