Every entry in The Rollergirl Project is a small glimpse into the life of a derby girl. This entry is by Sauer Susi who skates for Rollergirls of Southern Indiana. More pictures of her can be found at Cory's website.Who are you? Mundane life... Derby life... the basics...
Mundane: Well, I’m Emily. I’m the small, quiet one. Recluse has been used by friends on more than one occasion, in a loving way, of course. It’s not that I dislike other people, or that I feel superior in any way, I just don’t have that need to be in constant company. My group of regular friends is small, and mostly comprised of males. I guess you could say I’m kind of a tomboy. I also don’t speak much. I never liked it when one person in a room would babble on and on about what was essentially nothing. If I don’t have anything to say, I’m comfortable with the silence, I don’t need to fill the room with words. On a more basic note (since I went off on a tangent there), I’ve worked at the same ice cream shop since my senior year of high school. I’m a German major, and I love everything about it. I’ve been to Austria twice, and it’s probably my favorite place. I’m also a twin, some people think that’s cool.How did you discover derby and what drew you to that first practice?
Derby: I’m Susi, blocker, former and maybe future jammer. I still have my quietness, but it doesn’t seem to bother anyone. I love to skate, and I love to be in the company of so many strong and independent women. I feel like the derby me is the same as “real” me, only on wheels and more prone to having something groped.
I went to my first derby bout when I was 17 and a senior in high school. My older brother was (and still is) dating a member of ROSI. He thought I would like it, talked me into going, and from then on, I was hooked. I wanted to join and be awesome just like those girls. I had to wait until I was 18 of course, but when that came, I was there. Uncertain on skates and in super shy mode around those once strangers, but there none the less.Have your relationships with other women changed since joining? Friendships with rollergirls? Others?
My relationships with other women haven’t changed for the most part. In school, I found a lot of girls to be kind of superficial, and I still see that a lot in my age group (I’m a whopping 20 years old). However, derby girls are a different story to me. They all seem confident in one way or another. Be it in themselves as a person or in their skills on the track, and I really, truly admire that. Not only in women, but in anyone.
Have your pre-derby relationships with friends and family changed?
My relationships with others haven’t really changed either. The friend group I have has changed, but not as a result of derby. Life makes its own changes. However, one friend did join derby with me, and its nice to have her to discuss derby and outside life. We’ve been friends since the 6th grade, gone our separate ways at times, but always found each other again. Other friends come to watch and cheer on the team, but it’s not the same as skating with them out on that track. And secretly, she was always my competition.
Derby wife - What does that relationship mean to you? How is it different then your other friends and team mates?
I’m currently single in the derby world.Has there been a change to your professional life or relationships?
Like I mentioned before, I’ve worked at the same place for almost three years now. I’m still pretty young, and professional is not a word I use to describe myself. It’s something I’m still paying to get to.Has your personality evolved at all since becoming involved?
Yes and no. I say that because while I still don’t feel the need to be around people, or to talk just to make noise, derby has given me more confidence in myself that allows me to be able to do that. I’ve always been a little socially awkward (backwards, as my grandma would say). I suppose part of that was insecurity, and part of it was just not caring (I think it’s important to be okay on your own, to not depend on other people to create your happiness). I can handle myself better in new situations. I’m not as shy, and I can make conversation with a stranger without feeling overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still shy to some degree, but not near as much as before. Before, I would never volunteer to be photographed, so you see my progress. Also, I used to be really particular about some things. For example, in school, I was the one that never got below a B. Not because my parents pressured me, but because I pressured myself. Since I’ve joined derby, and also traveled alone overseas, I’m a little more relaxed about things. I still like to do well, so I’m not just a slacker now, but I realize that it’s not as important as I was pushing it to be. So when I got my first C in college, I could deal with it. It wasn’t a big deal because hey, a C is still passing, and life is so much more than letters and numbers. If you worry about all the small things, it’s going to pass you by and in the end, do you want experiences, or a shiny report card? Well, I choose to experience things. And surprisingly, derby has made me a bit more girly. I know that reeking pads, sweat and bruises don’t scream femininity, but I did gain some in a way. I don’t spend big bucks on clothes or make up or anything like that, but sometimes it’s fun to just be a girl. You know, wear dainty dress even if you’ve got a nasty bruise. In fact, that makes it better in my opinion. Beauty with edge.Have your attitudes towards different types of people changed?
I always liked to think that I was open minded. But when you go to a derby bout, there is truly every type of person. Despite having an open mind, it’s still amazing how sports can pull people together, even for a little while, because weather we want to believe it or not, people still draw dividing lines all the time.How would you have described yourself before derby? How about after?
Quiet, awkward, and self conscious. Quiet, still kind of awkward (its genetic), with a healthy dose confidence.A large portion of photography is the physical self. When you look in a mirror, how did you describe yourself before and how do you describe yourself after?
I won’t get specific here, but before when looking in a mirror, I could mentally tear myself apart with negative things. And honestly, I still could today if I tried, but I don’t do it. I’d still like to better myself, but I’m okay just being me. Derby has every shape and size, and each girl serves her own purpose.
Has your definition of beauty changed for yourself or others?
You are who you are, and its good to be happy with that. Don’t waste precious time worrying over some minor detail that the general public isn’t even going to notice. You are your own worst critic, and I do believe that. If someone wants to criticize you, they aren’t worth your time.What makes you go to practice? What drives you to play? What is it that makes it worth the time, money and risk?
I’ve always been a fan of playing sports. I’ve done teams and individual sports. I think derby kind of combines those. Yes, it’s incredibly important to work well with your girls, to have that flow on the track. But it’s also important to be confident in your own ability, especially in certain positions. I like the competitiveness a sport gives. I’m not over the top with it though. I just like to go out and give my effort and hope its returned with a big fat win. But if not, it’s not the end of the world. I like the cliché idea of playing for fun, not just to win. On a social point, I like knowing every girl on my team. I don’t know them all intimately, but being a person who typically has male friends, it’s nice to have this group of girls. I like the person I have become as a result of derby.