Lemmy Atom’s guide to choosing your roller derby name

So you’ve bought some kit, become a member, and you’re well on your way to passing minimum skills. You’re getting ready to step up from your beginners programme and you’re learning to scrim with your teammates. I guess this means that you’ve decided you want ‘in’, and roller derby is your bag. Then the time has come to get yourself the ideal moniker.

This is your superhero name! This is what you want your fans to be chanting from the suicide seats! Choosing the right roller derby name is an art, so whether you’re conceiving and inventing, or narrowing down your choices, be sure to consider the following words of wisdom:

1. Make it catchy.

The most memorable derby names are short, punchy, and have a pun that everybody can follow. Often, names are a play off on your real name or that of a celebrity. Personally, I think it’s hard to beat our own Owl (Al) and the number just tops it off – 2820.

2. Watch the spelling and go for wordplay.

Think about how your name is pronounced and spelt. Pick three or four letters at either end of your name and transpose to another word (i.e. DANimal or SufferKATE). It should be as grammatically sensible as possible. If you pick something incomprehensible and difficult to pronounce, don’t get mad at the announcers when they ruin it every time; you did it to yourself.

3. Consider the length.

You don’t want your name to be a tongue twister. It will be a nightmare to fit it on your top, your helmet and signs made by your fans. If you are adamant on using a long name, however,…

4. …be prepared for unfortunate nicknames.

If you haven’t incorporated what could be considered your natural nickname, be sure to consider all the ways your skate name can be shortened. If there’s no logical way to shorten it to something manageable, be prepared for people to give up and use your real name (which may or may not be what you prefer).

5. In-jokes, not everyone will get them.

If you and your friends think your name is clever and you like it, go for it!  But expect to explain it every time someone asks you where your name came from, and then be prepared for the blank looks and disappointment when you’re done. ‘In’-jokes aren’t nearly as funny with the ‘Out’-crowd.

6. Don’t let your name become obsolete.

Avoid slang and trends that are likely to fall out of fashion. Hell, you could be on skates for many years to come and you don’t want to be stuck with the same kind of awkwardness as you feel now when your parents try to talk hip. On the same note, if you’re looking to use a celebrity name, be sure to stick to A-listers with future careers. Beyonslay, Naomi Cannibal, Skank Williams, Shirley Temple of Doom can rest assured their superstar names will stand the test of time, but some X-Factor / flash-in-the-pan / Big Brother reality wannabe – no one is going to get it once those ‘15 minutes of fame’ are over.

7. Think about your PG versus 18 rating.

If you blush at the thought of your family, friends, students, bosses etc. finding out your derby name, then you better hope that they never come and watch you play. (Are you cool with your five year old brother cheering for “Pat McCrotch or Fu-Quinn Hell”?)

8. Avoid similarity to your other teammates’ names.

Not only do you not want to step on their toes, but more importantly, you don’t want to cause any confusion on the track when someone is hollering a play at you.

9. Try it out.

You wouldn’t submit a thesis without getting someone you trust to read it through first, right? So, run it by your teammates. Put a poll up on Facebook and see what everyone else thinks. See if you like being called it in practice, which is also a good way to find out if you have missed any unfortunate nicknames it might produce.

10. Numbers.

So you’ve finally come up with a name you love? Okay, now you need to pick your number. What, another thing? Are you kidding? It took ages to pick a name! Yes, you need a number so the referees can easily identify you. For some, you’ll have a definite idea of what you’re after in relation to your skate name. Others couldn’t care less and are happy to be given one. Think of your birth month/day or vice versa if you’re really stuck. At least you don’t need a number that’s unique in the entire world this time.

There are a few rules here too:
You can’t have the same number as somebody else on your team and it can be no longer than 4 digits. You can have additional characters but these must be considerably smaller. A fuller description can be found in the current rules under uniforms http://wftda.com/rules/20140301/section/2.7
There is also a really handy visual guide from WFTDA:   https://wftda.com/images/skater-numbers.png

11. One last thing to complicate things even further.

You CAN have the same name as another other skater BUT it’s far cooler to have your own unique name. Every skater used to register their name on Twoevils with over 40,000 entries but that hasn’t been updated since May 2013. Derby Roll Call has the most up-to-date list of skater names, with over 13,500 names from around the world. Suffice to say; use it as a guide and not as an absolute. Don’t go being lazy and stealing somebody’s name outright, but feel free if it is dissimilar enough to a name already on there; i.e. phonetically the same but a different spelling.
The master rosters are:

12. And finally:

It’s becoming more popular, especially amongst international players to play under their given family name. If it’s all too much and you just can’t decide you can just use your own name.

Here are some examples of our players’ names and numbers to inspire:

  • Lauren Forcement s20
  • Greek Frightening 300
  • Owl 2820
  • Tormaydo 16