Diane Zerr has been jamming for the Reading Derby Girls since 2012. Whether she’s attending practices or taking her son to open skate nights, Zerr spends a lot of time on the track. Her derby name, Skater Di, simply sums up who she is and what she loves to do.
Zerr discovered the Reading Derby Girls online. She admits that she was uncertain about the sport and what it entailed but went out of her comfort zone to attend a practice.
“I wasn’t really sure what roller derby was when I first started, I had the same idea that most people have and that is that it’s staged or fake, but it’s not,” said Zerr. “After my first practice, I knew it was something I wanted to keep doing.”
Two years later, Zerr is still looking to improve her skills on the track. Like most sports, roller derby is a physically demanding game that requires strong, fast, and smart players.
“It’s athletic, it’s a full-contact sport and you have to train yourself for the intense level of activity, but it’s worth all of the effort,” said Zerr. “If you ever find yourself saying that you don’t need to improve, then you need to work on your attitude.”
According to Zerr, part of training and improving is also learning new moves. A jammer or blocker that has a certain move in their pocket has an immediate advantage over opposing teams. Zerr’s favorite move is “juking” or faking a player out. But she would really love to perfect the infamous “jumping the apex,” a difficult move that requires the skater to cut the inside of the track by jumping over it. Zerr is fortunate to not have suffered too many injuries since taking up the sport, but she says old injuries are a different story.
“If you have any pre-existing injuries, you’ll rediscover them in roller derby, “ said Zerr. “I had a back injury that came back after I fell on the concrete floor that we skate on. But with physical therapy and exercise, I can keep it at bay.”
When she’s not scoring points as a jammer or taking girls out as a blocker, Zerr is a self-employed graphic designer and illustrator.
“I love to draw and come up with fresh ideas for unique wedding invitations, stationary, and any other project that comes my way, in addition to corporate design work,” said Zerr.
Zerr as also been able to combine her two passions: skating and graphic design. Since joining the derby girls, Zerr has helped to maintain the team’s website and social media sites. She also assists with the team’s marketing materials.
“I’m always thinking or talking about derby, it kind of takes over your life – in a good way,” said Zerr.
Zerr plans to stick with the sport as long as she can. She also hopes to keep improving her versatility so that she can continue to play several different positions. When asked about her favorite aspect of roller derby, it all came down to her team.
“The friends and family-like atmosphere of our team,” said Zerr. “The game is intense yet fun, and it makes you want to become better with each practice and each game.”