Her roller derby teammates know her as “Cagey Kajee,” but she can now be referred to as a nationally published essay-writer.
Kajee Kodrich-Quick, a State University College at Oneonta junior from Unadilla, said she was surprised and excited when she found out that her essay “Hitting up the ladder: Leadership Lessons from a Derby Girl” would be published in the March issue of “Women in Higher Education,” a nationally recognized, monthly journal.
The essay, which began as an independent study, discusses the growing sport of roller derby and the ways in which it has defied many ingrained ideologies regarding women and gender, 20-year-old Kodrich-Quick said.
A member of Oneonta’s Hill City Rollers, Kodrich-Quick said roller derby, which she has been involved in since 2012, has given her more confidence. She said increased confidence is a common effect of the sport.
“We can wear whatever we want,” Kodrich-Quick said, “instead of being told what to wear. We often wear fishnet stockings and short shorts.”
But the confidence stems not just from the ability to choose one’s own outfit, Kodrich-Quick said, but from the way in which roller derby challenges societal norms regarding strength, beauty and a woman’s body. She said her team is very close, and does not discriminate based on body type, an issue she said she’s all too familiar with.
“There are no cliques like there were in many of my high school sports teams,” she said. “Derby is an all-inclusive sport,which embraces and needs all body types to make a strong team. Everyone has the chance to grow as players and try different positions.”
Professor of English at SUNY Oneonta and Chairwoman of the Women’s and Gender Studies Department Susan Bernardin said Kodrich-Quick approached her last summer with a unusual idea for an independent study, in which she would examine how roller derby participants are challenging ideas of beauty, strength and sexuality. Bernardin said, after attending a bout, she was amazed at the number of people involved, and the energy and fun that was apparent.