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Cari Wohlrabe (right) with fellow ARRG member at the first bout of the season.

Last week’s post, Girls on Wheels, gave a glimpse of what roller derby is all about. This week, I talked with Cari Wohlrabe, an Arch Rival Roller Girl (ARRG) Newbie, who made the cut last October and has been practicing regularly in hopes of being drafted to one of the four ARRG teams this spring. Cari shares her insights about how to balance being a member of ARRG with being a mother of two with a full-time job.

How did you become a participant?
Well, I found out about the roller derby because a friend of mine was on a team. I came out to watch and support her pretty regularly. After a while, I wanted to give it a try. I like being active, but I don’t like my workouts to feel like a chore. It (the derby) is about having fun and being a part of a strong group of women; the derby makes you feel good about yourself. Also, being able to look back when you are 60 and know that you were a part of the roller derby – that opportunity was something I just couldn’t pass up.

How long have you been involved with the ARRG organization?
I made the cut during tryouts in October. I am a part of the, “Newbies” group. I am an active member of the league now, but not on a specific team. Newbies have to go through skill testing and lots of practice.We are very serious about training. As you get better, you get promoted to higher skill levels. I’m now at a level where I can scrimmage with the big girls.

What do you do during a typical practice?
Each practice lasts about three hours, and we do different things each night. Monday nights are for Newbies. We usually run for at least ten minutes, do stretches and then get in our skates as soon as possible. Once the skates are on we warm up with skating drills, partner drills, team drills, and blocking drills. You basically skate and squat the entire time during practice. We also have a personal trainer in the league who helps with our strength training. Our workouts are customized to strengthen the muscles we use most in our sport.

Normally, on Tuesday we do exercises off of skates for about an hour. A lot of these are pilates based moves. We also do walking push-ups and the spiderman (they are both ridiculously hard) across the entire track. We do a lot of endurance training to help you become a really strong skater. You have to be able to do 5 laps in 55 seconds to be eligible to scrimmage.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday are the scheduled league practices. I try to make three of those per week. We are required to make at least 7 practices per month, but they also recommend doing your own cross-training and workouts on your own time in addition to the league practices. The recommended activities are endurance activities like swimming, cycling and running and strength building for legs and upper body. You must have good core strength.

What is your favorite part about participating in the roller derby?
I obviously enjoy having something for myself to do. I like being a part of a team sport. This requires me to make myself compete with others to make myself better. I used to participate in track and I always just competed against myself. I really look forward to going to practice. “I don’t want to go,” never crosses my mind.

What is the time commitment to be a part of the roller derby?
It is amazing how much work and time goes into this. It (ARRG) is a member run league so everybody is a big part of it. You are on a committee, responsible for talking it up to other people and attending three-hour practices up to four times per week. We also have monthly bouts; our local teams play four times during the season. It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun to be a part of the league.

It seems like everyone’s personality really shines through in this sport; what would you say the common thread is among your fellow teammates?
Ha! Everybody has, “controlled aggression.” That’s what we call it.

You have two boys who are six & three. How do you manage working full-time, being a mom and participating in the derby?
I have to thank my husband; he has been incredibly supportive of my practices in the evenings. We share a lot of duties so I can practice. I have dinners planned during the week, so I walk right in the house and head straight to the kitchen to make dinner after work so can eat and have time together as a family. Jim, my husband, also cooks a lot.

Since my practices start at 7, I really only miss about an hour before bedtime. It’s all about the support of your family when you are trying to make it work.

It’s hard being a mother and not feeling guilty, but you need time for yourself too. I know that it’s benefiting them to see me doing something that I love and am passionate about. That way they can learn how important it is to follow your passion. It’s good for them to see me doing this instead of them seeing me doing nothing at all.

What advice do you have to share with others who might be interested in participating in the roller derby?
Don’t doubt yourself, give it your best effort and be serious about it. It’s definitely been inspirational to me to know that I can do this; if I had waited any longer I might have missed out. We have a newbie who is 40, so there you go. Try it and you might just be surprised about what you can do.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the F2BT readers?
Come out to our bouts and support your local ARRG!

-Sara

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