Sisterhood … and bruised shins. These seem to be the two most common themes in the fast-paced world of roller derby.
First started back in the 1930s, roller derby has grown in small fits over the last 80 years. Roller derby saw an increase in teams around 2000 in Austin, Texas. This was the start of roller derby revival since its decline in the 1980s. Now, roller derby teams have cropped up all over the United States. Some join for the love of skating, some for the feeling of sisterhood, and some for the love of the names.
And some of those names can be quite catchy. In Kansas, the Dreadnaught Dorothy’s cash in on Kansas’s Wizard of Oz fame while the Assassination City Roller Derby of Dallas, Texas take a macabre historical event and spin it into a wild and provocative name. As if this isn’t enough fun, when you join a derby team, you get your own sassy pun of a name! Some personal favorites include: Brusin’ B. Anthony, Ram ‘Em Noodles, and Womb Raider.
So now that you know about the history and the fun names, you might be wondering what exactly the rules or objectives of a bout (a.k.a a derby match) are. Well, it’s fairly simple. Two teams play at a time. Teams consist of five members: one jammer and four blockers. The jammer, easily recognized by a star on their helmet, can score a point by making it once around the track. Sounds easy, right? Well, it is until you have four women, whose main objective is to make sure that instead of seeing the starting line you’re seeing the ground, coming after you. With ten women on a track at once, and two of them trying to score–all going in the same direction–it can look a little hectic! But with fun announcers, flashy outfits, and fabulous names, it’s not that hard to keep it all straight when a bout gets going.
Have I piqued your interest, GenTwenty? Because I hope I have! Roller derby is an excellent way to step out of your shell, get some physical exercise in, and bond with a unique and diverse group of women. Don’t be intimated by all of the physicality of it, though. Most of the leagues I’ve looked into welcome newbies and promise that even though their personas in the rink are surly, they are nice ladies looking to have a good time.
So look up a league, strap on some skates or grab a friend, and join this revival of a fiendishly fun sport!