Sep 2012 170


Posted In Blog

When I finished my very first practice, there were two questions that lingered in my mind.

1. What should my derby name be?
2. Oh my gosh… WHAT WAS THAT SMELL?????

By the time you have read this blog, you already know that I came to an answer for my first question,
but the second question had many layers that I have come to realize. Girls are supposed to smell like
sweet smelling roses all the time, but when you have a group of them exerting the kind of energy that
roller girls do during practices and games, there is no rose that could smell as sweet.

Derby girls have to wear various amounts of protective gear. A basic setup usually calls for knee and
elbow pads, wrist guards, mouth guard, and helmet, but some girls also add knee gaskets and ankle and
knee braces. It is very simple to go home and throw a pair of shorts and a tank in the washer, but it may
not be so easy to throw in a helmet and a pair of knee pads, especially if you want these items to be dry
before the practice on the following day. Repeated washing of gear may also cause it to break down,
decreasing performance, and when an inexpensive pair of knee pads will run about $60, the funk gets a
little more bearable.

When I started derby, I SWORE I would never catch the derby funk. I was going to smell like roses
forever. It took about three months, but eventually, my husband started to notice the smell after
practice. I went from swearing that I would NEVER smell that way, to trying to keep the funk at bay.

Keeping this in mind, I have found ways to help cut down on the derby funk without spending a fortune
on new gear, or washing pads after every practice. The best thing to do is air out my pads after practice.
This takes away the warm, dark, and damp chasms that stinky bacteria love to breed in. If I have
practice two days in a row, this also allows me to wear dry pads at the start of her next practice. I wash
my elbow pads and wrist guards three to four times for every time that I wash my knee pads, and I
always use an additive to help increase the strength of my detergent. During the summer months when
our practice space is more like a sauna than a gym, I use a spray deodorant/antiperspirant to cut down
on the amount that I sweat.

We can’t blame everything on our pads. Our genes determine how much we sweat, and our diet and
chemical makeup determine what our body odor will be. For the most part, these are things we can’t
change. So the next time you come to a derby bout, you’ll have to excuse the smell after the game. Your
favorite derby girl (or ref) is no exemption from the funk. We’ll do our best to keep it at bay, but we
can’t make any promises.

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