When you think about roller derby, mostly you think about the sport and the athleticism that we teach and inspire. The lesser known aspect of roller derby is that every league is skater run, which means that skaters do all the work to make the league function. To accomplish this, we create leaders. I say “create” because the sport is comprised of so many women in so many leadership roles. And we recruit from within for all of these positions. That means that some may have leadership experience and some may not. Modern roller derby is so new that even if we had enough women with leadership experience, there’s no way that all of them would have the exact experience that each position needs. So we train. Just like we train athletically to produce athletes in this beautiful sport, we train leadership to produce leaders. Leadership positions are widespread: team captains, committee heads, coaches, management, mentors and so much more. When we look for leaders, we don’t look for experience. We look for drive. Leadership can be taught. Drive is innate.

Something that I like to consider to be special about Tilted Thunder Roller Derby is that in our leadership training, we allow women to fail. This is something that society does not do. In society, women are held to higher standards than men. We are expected to produce perfect results at every step. And this is why women seek leadership positions less often in society. Women feel that we have to succeed 100% of the time to be a leader. That is simply not true. The true character of a leader is not that they are perfect all of the time. It is that they can accept their own faults and those of others, and still produce a positive outcome. We do not need to be perfect. We can fail. That is how we learn. This is what the athletic side of roller derby teaches all of the time: when you fall, you get back up and do it again. This is also how we treat our leaders.

So I want to thank all of the leaders that have contributed to Tilted Thunder’s success. In our imperfection, we have achieved so much. And I want to encourage everyone here to seek leadership positions. You have the whole backing of the league. We will support you and we will help you. The athletic training you receive is also meant to inspire you as a person and as a leader. Even if you don’t want to be a leader in roller derby, be a leader elsewhere. Everyone here has so much potential and we want to help you discover that. Women are strong. Women are leaders. And we love all of you.