Libby Claeys has seen the world all because of a silly pair of skates.
Claeys is a pivotal member of the Sioux City Roller Dames, a roller derby league she and her father founded in 2008. Known by her derby nickname "PBR," Claeys traveled as far as the Netherlands, where she skated nearly 400 miles with her friend and fellow Roller Dame Melissa Dittberner to raise awareness of sex trafficking.
But it all started with the Roller Dames. Starting at 3 p.m. Sunday (March 13) at Long Lines Family Rec Center, the organization invites people who "kinda-sorta-maybe-are definitely curious about becoming a Dame." Being a Roller Dame doesn't mean you have to be a player. There is always room for people who want to referee or become a member of the Dames' support team.
"Derby is very open door," said Claeys. "You can literally be from any walk of life, any gender, any preference -- we don't care. If you come to skate and want to be in an aggressive, athletic frontier sport that is giving back to the community in the meantime, lace up!"
There are spots open for multiple people, Claeys added. Skating and non-skating officials are always a big part of roller derby. Being a member of the board of directors is another option. There's a Roller Dames position for anybody who is willing to donate the time and effort the organization calls for.
"We're going to find you a spot," said Claeys. "Maybe you want to be the head of security. Maybe you're a DJ. Maybe you want to cook. We could always use vendors. It's like a little community."
So what does it take to be a Roller Dame? Claeys filled us in:
CAN'T SKATE? NO PROBLEM
Claeys: You don't have to be a skater. I didn't know how to skate. I absolutely did not know how to skate. At all! It took me three years to learn how to skate. You just pick it up and you slowly put it into your arsenal. Now I can skate better than I can walk in my Chuck Taylors. You'll see people of all different levels.
Claeys: Do you want to be a Sioux City Roller Dame? We try to build the community around us. We relentlessly, one stride at a time, try to make the world a better place. We donate countless hours on the track and off the track. It's a commitment of mine. It's not a hobby.
ALL BACKGROUNDS WELCOME
Claeys: We have professors, lawyers, full-time moms, managers -- there are people from all walks of life. If you want it, you'll make it happen.
THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
Claeys: [Have] pride. Self-pride. This is your time to physically put effort into something. Put yourself to the utmost physical challenges but also mental challenges. I've watched people from start to finish. I know their pain. I've been there. But I tell them every single time, "It's not how many times you fall, it's how many times you get back up. Roller derby and Rome were not built in a day. Someday, you'll laugh."