Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Determined Protector

It’s official. My Wasatch Roller Derby jersey is emblazoned with my skating name and number: #38 Velma Rinkley. This it the first time in my life that I have had a jersey with my name on it.

I don’t have many things that are personalized with my name. It’s an unusually spelled version of an already rare name. I never find my name among the racks of toy license plates in the airport gift shop. I’ve only met a handful people with my name, and no one that spells it like I do. So I am not used to seeing my name printed on anything.

Sister MSW once pointed out to me how many of my son’s possessions have his name printed on them. I think I am probably overcompensating for the fact that my name is not printed anywhere.

Until now. Now it is printed on the back of my WRD shirt.  I will grant you the point that it is not my original name. But I am counting it anyway.

I got thinking about the name Velma. Aside from the brilliant and adorable Velma Dinkley and the pitch-perfect murderess Velma Kelly, I don’t know of any other Velmas. So, of course, I Googled it.


The name Velma has Germanic roots, and it means Determined Protector or Strong-willed Warrior. I ask you, can you think of a better Derby name than that? Especially for a gal that is probably destined to be an outstanding inside blocker?** It’s perfect.

And there are a couple of other Velmas that have left their mark.

Velma Springstead was a Canadian athlete in the 1930s. This Velma was kicking in doors of the sports world in an era where women were fighting for the right to vote. Her short-but-brilliant Track and Field career led to the establishment of the Velma Springstead Trophy—commonly referred to as the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl is awarded annually by the Canadian Women’s Amateur Athletic Federation to a female athlete that epitomizes the traits that made this Velma a champion.

Diver Velma Clancy Dunn won a Silver medal in the 1936 Summer Olympics. She locked in the Silver with a spectacular dive from the 10 metre platform.

Velma Middleton could belt it with the best of them. This jazz vocalist spent her career as Louis Armstrong’s singer. She was well known for doing the splits on stage. All 250 pounds of her. She would have made a bad-ass Derby girl.

I wear the name Velma with great pride. I hope to live up to the other Velmas that came before me.

* That adorable illustration of Velma was created by the amazing Ines Barros,, who graciously let me post it on my blog. See more of her amazing work at: https://www.facebook.com/InesBarrosIllustration

**Well, hoping to be, anyway…

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