What’s in a name?

Ask any derby girl about our names and we’re usually pretty proud of the pseudonyms we develop for roller derby. There are a couple of reasons for this.

One, it’s becoming nearly impossible to find names that aren’t already taken. You see, there is only one Mary Lou Wretched. We all have this sort of honor system set up—we know that our names are unique to us, and we don’t use names that are even remotely similar to other derby girls out there (read why here). It’s become quite the challenge, though, because our Master Roster now includes over 30,000 derby girls who have registered names. So when we’re able to come up with a name we love, we cross our fingers, hope, pray, beg, etc., that our names don’t come back as denied—especially when you already have jerseys you’re wearing with your name on the back.

Secondly, some of our names are really amazing. I’ve seen people play off of pop culture (Queefer Sutherland, Joanie Rollmoan, Scary Garcia, Beattie Sedgewick), politics and national news (Sandra Day O’Slaughter, Brawl Things Considered), and come up with names that just make me jealous (Poisonous Polly). Thankfully, Dairy Queen helped me remedy my little kids-born-in-the-’90s-don’t-understand-my-moniker upset with a commercial that made me jump out of my skin with excitement (cause COME ON, how can you not know and adore Mary Lou Retton???):

The thing is, I love seeing hits coming to my blog as people search for the names of the girls in my league—especially in the days before our bouts, when it becomes obvious other leagues are trying to gauge our abilities. And I love seeing fresh meat pondering over their names, because I know what a struggle it is these days, and I’m grateful that one of my best friends nailed mine so well.

But the real question I wonder is this: do the celebrities and bands and politicians and everybody else whose names we so blatantly steal know about us? And if so, what do they think about it? If Mary Lou Retton knew about me, I’d probably melt into a puddle of goo or implode due to my 8-year-old self coming out to celebrate. I can’t help but wonder.

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