Roll Strong Together
Rolla Skate Club launched in 2018 with 100 pairs of rental rollerskates and an old FedEx truck that was converted into a pop up skate mobile. Co-founders Lucy and Carla had spent the previous 10 years playing competitive roller derby and starting their own businesses.
They had seen how this sport and community of radical inclusion, body positivity and empowerment changed people’s lives – their own included. They knew more people around the world needed to have access to this!
Today Rolla Skate Club has:
- A permanent 20,000 sq foot facility at “Rollerland” at the PNE in East Vancouver, BC Canada and over 500 members rolling regularly together @rollaskateclubyvr
- An online learning platform – thanks Covid! That has enabled hundreds of skaters around the world to join the Rolla Community.
- An Instructor Certification Program, that has certified Rolla Skate Club Instructors on all continents, from Argentina to Bermuda
- A Partner Program that supports entrepreneurs from under-represented groups to open their own Rolla Skate Club in their communities.
And this is just the beginning….
Co-Founder Lucy Croysdill
From an early age Lucy was drawn to a life on eight wheels. “Growing up in London, England I was a lot smaller than other kids my age so I was teased quite a bit at school. To me, being on skates was a way to escape that negativity and it was something physical I could be good at regardless of my size.”
Fast forward 10 years to Vancouver, Canada and Lucy was struggling to make meaningful connections in her new city. “You get to a certain age and everyone already has their ‘groups,’ the people they hang out with. I didn’t really connect with the people I was working with so as a new immigrant and a woman in my mid-twenties I was definitely searching for like-minded people. I spent a lot of time skating round the seawall on my own!”
It was during one of those skates that Lucy stumbled across the newly-formed Terminal City Rollergirls, one of the first roller derby leagues in North America. “From the very first meeting I was blown away! They were this awe-inspiring group of fearless women, doing a crazy new sport and building an incredible world-wide community. I’d finally found a place where I felt like I fit in.” Lucy joined up on the spot, took on the derby name Luludemon and went on to compete with Team Canada at the first Roller Derby World Cup.
“Being on roller-skates makes me feel like a super-hero! It has brought so many incredible, inspiring people into my life and made me the fittest I’ve ever been at age 35. Skating reminds me that it doesn’t matter how many times I fall down, because I can always find a way to get back up again.”
Co-Founder Carla Smith
Being active has been Carla’s passion since her days of ballet and field hockey as a child. “At University I tried out for the rowing team on a whim. Turns out I loved the camaraderie of the team, and how we had to overcome our physical barriers every single day at practice, together.” But eventually a serious back injury and demanding course load in architecture school meant the end of rowing.
Jump ahead to living in Boston in her twenties. Carla saw a flyer for the Team In Training running charity. “I like a challenge…” she thought, and (not a natural runner) soon found herself training for a marathon, just to see if she could. “Along the way I fell in with a kick-ass group of like-minded women who were also trying something new. Hundreds of hours pounding the pavement meant we got to know each other very well!”
Next stop: Vancouver. New to the city and looking to connect and continue to challenge herself, Carla found the Terminal City Rollergirls in 2007. A decade-plus later, she’s still coaching and playing the sport. She even gave up an award-winning career as an architect to focus on fitness training for derby athletes with her previous venture, Roller Derby Athletics, under her former derby name “Booty Quake.” “I’m obviously drawn to the team aspect of sports. The bonds between friends are always strongest when you’ve had to overcome physical and mental challenges together. Roller Derby has never stopped challenging me, and it has forged a community of confident, inspiring women who are family to me. I’ve made the friendships of a lifetime.”
Carla Smith and Lucy Croysdill are also Co-Founders of the Girls on Track Foundation. A not-for-profit whose mission is to foster important life skills in teenage girls, through participation in roller derby as skaters and decision makers.
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