Oakland Rollers create local community



By Lillian Lee Follrath, CONTRIBUTOR

Sporadically, at the end of First Avenue in Oakland, alongside Lake Merritt, a large group of skaters roll around the nearby roundabout. If you are an avid skater or roller enthusiast that asks to join the event; there is no doubt that the answer will be a resounding “yes.”
The skating group is known as the Oakland Rollers. They are a community organization aimed at serving the community. This group of mostly Oakland residents or frequenters, skates throughout the Oakland terrain and together enjoy their time on the lakeside.
“Even though we are mostly quad skaters, we want to be inclusive of all types of wheels,” said Nicoletta Critchlow, one of the two founders of the group. “We even had a person in a wheelchair come along with our group once. It was really cool. That’s what I mean when I say we are inclusive of all wheels.”
With so many skaters from different areas, the Oakland Rollers got creative.
“We have a big whatsapp group, so whenever someone wants to join and be aware of the schedule, all they have to do is ask a member of our group to add them.”
“Joelle (cofounder) and I wanted to start something that would encourage and hold us accountable to skate more. Initially it was just us two, but then we met (fellow skater) Yu-ting and then more and more skaters every week, now averaging to 20 and still growing,” says Nicoletta Critchlow.
It’s a casual, fun environment during practice. “We listen to music, practice our dance moves, chat and just hang out when we get together on Wednesdays. People organically connect and form friendships outside of our meetup which we love to see.”
With summer in full swing, it is important to stay active and find interests which are fulfilling and exciting. One member, Krystal, who has been with the Oakland Rollers for about three months said “It builds a great community. The group gives you a chance to connect and have fun with awesome people. We have beginners that come out, first time on skates just to get comfortable, and there are also people who have been skating for 30+ years who show us new tricks!”
Joelle describes the group from her perspective: “Oakland Rollers has so many good parts. It is hard to narrow it down to the best part. The joy, freedom and adventure we feel when we skate is fantastic. Oakland Rollers are positive and inclusive. We hope that everyone feels welcome. Its a meet up where everyone can be free to be themselves and move their body through space in all kinds of creative ways. It a thrilling way to turn any city into a sorta roller coaster ride meets dance party on wheels.”
While the group of Oakland Rollers initially started off small, it has grown quickly.
“It is amazing how many people in Oakland rollerskate. Since we started our weekly meetups a little over a year ago we have met so many skaters. We went from two to over 20 skaters a week. Each and every skater we have met has been fantastic. Skating is a way to feel like a kid again, to play and be adventurous! It’s good exercise too.”