Home News Product Reviews Health & Fitness Features Healthy Eating

Roller Derby: It’s Bout Time

Women's Sport Report, wanted to report and bring to the Worlds attention the interest on the growing full-contact competitive sport for women, roller derby.



Roller Derby is fast, it’s furious and it’s female-focussed. The Roller Derby revival is the most exciting thing to happen to women’s sports in the last ten years. So what the hell is it and where can you find out more?

I’ve been skating with the Birmingham, UK league, the Birmingham Blitz Derby Dames for nearly a year now and for a girl who was never into sports, it’s been a whole new experience in training hard, bruising hard, getting knocked down and getting back up again – on roller skates. I never thought I’d have so much fun while getting kicked in the head.



rollerderbyJules-DoyleType2.jpg
photo Jules Doyle/Type2B Photo


 

But excited as I am to be part of this hard-working, amazing league of women, the main reaction I get when I speak to anyone about my main obsession is ‘What is Roller Derby?’

Traditional Roller Derby started up in Depression-era America as a way to sell roller skates and grew into a co-ed sport that had more in common with today’s pro-wrestling. As mixed teams raced each other around a banked oval track, choreographed fights, theatrical feuds, stage names and scripted personas were the norm, providing entertainment for the crowds. The sport reached a highpoint in 1970s America, with regularly televised bouts and even a film based on the sport (Rollerball, 1975), but fell out of fashion soon after and had died out altogether by the early 1980s.



rollerderbyTeam.jpg
photo Jules Doyle/Type2B Photo


Modern Roller Derby has kept the stage names and the great costumes, but in every other way this is now a serious sport. Mock brawls are a thing of the past and the new, women-only teams are training hard to compete on flat tracks that can be set up in any large sports hall – making this a grassroots sport that’s available for any woman who wants it. There’s even a current bid to include Roller Derby in the 2016 Olympics.

So how does Roller Derby work?

[suggest insert Roller Derby diagram here?]

Roller Derby teams skate in leagues. A league can set up separate teams to compete regularly against each other (intraleague) or can send out teams to bout against teams from other leagues (interleague).

The sport itself is played on an oval flat track, with two teams skating anti-clockwise in a pack. In a Roller Derby bout, each team has five girls on the track at a time. There are three main positions to play in:

Pivots: One from each team. They lead the pack and set the pace. She can also act as a blocker.

Blockers: Three from each team. These girls try to stop the opposing Jammer and help their own.

Jammers: One from each team. Speed skaters that cut and weave through the pack, scoring points by passing members of the opposing team.

At the start of a Jam (a two minute session), each team has a Pivot at the front, three blockers in the middle and a Jammer at the back. On the ref’s first whistle, the Pivots and the Blockers start skating. When they are twenty feet ahead the second whistle sounds and the Jammers take off.

 


rollerderbyviolet.jpg
photo Jules Doyle/Type2B Photo



The Jammers have the tough job of dodging through the pack while Blockers from the opposing team try their hardest to knock them down or force them off the track. Jammers score the points by overtaking opponents and taking the lead.

For the Blockers in the pack, their job is the get in the way of the opposing Jammer, help their own Jammer through and protect their Jammer by blocking and knocking down the opposing team.

If it sounds violent, it is! Although skaters are well padded, contact is strictly regulated and elbows and fists are not allowed, it is not a sport for the fainthearted. Minor injuries are common and broken bones are not unknown.

Modern, flat-track Roller Derby kicked off in Texas in 2001, when a group of Texas women decided to set up their own league – Bad Girl, Good Woman – and inadvertently started a sports revolution. From that one league there are now over three hundred flat-track and banked-track leagues across the globe!

Flat track has proved the most popular by far, as any large flat surface can have a track laid on it, making it an accessible sport for anyone who wants to train. This inclusive, grassroots ethos has permeated all areas of the sport with newbies regularly welcomed into leagues by more experienced players, trained up and finding themselves on the team in no time at all!

The Jammers have the tough job of dodging through the pack while Blockers from the opposing team try their hardest to knock them down or force them off the track. Jammers score the points by overtaking opponents and taking the lead.

For the Blockers in the pack, their job is the get in the way of the opposing Jammer, help their own Jammer through and protect their Jammer by blocking and knocking down the opposing team.

If it sounds violent, it is! Although skaters are well padded, contact is strictly regulated and elbows and fists are not allowed, it is not a sport for the fainthearted. Minor injuries are common and broken bones are not unknown.

Modern, flat-track Roller Derby kicked off in Texas in 2001, when a group of Texas women decided to set up their own league – Bad Girl, Good Woman – and inadvertently started a sports revolution. From that one league there are now over three hundred flat-track and banked-track leagues across the globe!

Flat track has proved the most popular by far, as any large flat surface can have a track laid on it, making it an accessible sport for anyone who wants to train. This inclusive, grassroots ethos has permeated all areas of the sport with newbies regularly welcomed into leagues by more experienced players, trained up and finding themselves on the team in no time at all!





 

Over 4000 women attended the International Rollergirl Convention – RollerCon 2008 in Las Vegas this August. Big news for the UK was the spectacular win of Team UK over Team Australia.

Tear E Hatchet, Violet Attack and Sleazy Rider of the Birmingham Blitz Derby Dames were joined by athletes from the London RollerGirls, London Rockin’ Rollers and the Middlesborough Milk Rollers to beat the Australian Team by 43 points to 28 at the international convention for all Roller Derby skaters.

Blitz Dames’ jammer, Violet Attack (real name: Simone Radway) says: “My first trip to RollerCon was amazing! It was an incredible experience to compete against an international team and to score the winning points of the bout for Team UK.”

Back in England, the girls are busy fundraising for the 2008/09 Roller Derby Season, which kicks off in October with a home bout against the London RollerGirls.

Captain Helen Fury (real name: Faith Brown) says “Taking part in a fantastic team sport and representing your country internationally shouldn’t be only for those who can afford it, so we’re raising the funds to support and train every girl who is willing and able to compete.”



rollerderbyukteam.jpg

BBDD/Axle Adams



 

Since UK Roller Derby kicked off in 2006, leagues have been springing up all over the country and the UK 2008/09 season will be the first to feature regular interleague bouts now that there are enough leagues to compete.

The Birmingham Blitz Derby Dames have a lot of exciting bouts coming up this season, including the first ever UK/USA bout to be played in the UK, against the Tragic City Rollers of Birmingham, Alabama. This ‘Birmingham vs Birmingham’ bout, the aptly titled ‘Alabama Slammer’, will take place on 29th November 2008. There’s plenty of information on where to see these bouts and links to leagues across the UK at www.blitzdames.com and on their myspace page www.myspace.co.uk/blitzdames.

If you want to try the sport for yourself, you’ll find most leagues are friendly and open to new skaters at all levels. Many hold open practices where skaters of all abilities can hire equipment, get some training and find out if this sport is for them.

If there’s no league in your area, the more established leagues can give you help and advice to set one up. Find out the basics of setting up your own league at the home of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association: www.wftda.com. Once you’ve decided you can’t get enough of Roller Derby, the only thing left is to choose a skater name!

The Birmingham Blitz Derby Dames are:

Bee Sting (real name: Bee Bentley) – founder of the league

Helen Fury (real name: Faith Brown)

Sleazy Rider (real name: Caitlin Griffiths)

Violet Attack (real name: Simone Radway)

Roisin Roulette (Lucy Taylor)

Tear E. Hatchet (Lina Lindfors)

Hilda BlizzHard (Magdalena Bieroza)

Kiki Kasplat (Karen Boswell)

Saintly Sin (Charlotte Farmer)

Diamondback Belle (Michelle Duffy)

Eliza DooLethal (Elizabeth Jones)

Lornatik (Lorna Harper)

Elle Fire (Cathryn Sheldon)

Bitter Sweet (Christina Cannon)

Gun Bunny (Sinead Mottram)

Promise Payback (Rohan Craven)

Rip Lashes (Elizabeth Short)

Kylie Volatile (Monique Boyce)

Layla Blame (Annie Jobson)

Union Jack-U-Up (Gemma Hodgson)

Victoria Cross (Eirin Courtney Sullivan)

Bloody Nora (Laura Donnelly)

Jammie Dodgeher (Bryoni Hayman)

Stellar Kella (Kelly Scott)

Val Iant (Val Higgins)

And our highly esteemed refs:

The Skatrix (Ruth Armstrong)

Chester Drawers (Chris Jones)

Justine Credible (Charlotte Callow)



Introducing the Santa Cruz Rollergirls



santa.jpg


The Santa Cruz Rollergirls are a newer league that have gotten a
hailstorm of support and attention. We were founded by a former Rat
City (Seattle) Rollergirl Robin YoLIfe last year. We have been on the
cover of the local daily and weekly papers as well as been featured on
the local CBS affiliate and numerous radio shows. There is just
something about our team that people love. I'm not sure if it's the
cute girls or the amazing amount of athleticism, or a combination of
both, but whatever it is the Santa Cruz Rollergirls are going strong
in our first season. Our first bout (game) last month sold out two
days before the event. Heck, there were even ticket scalpers the night
of the bout out on the sidewalk getting swarmed by hopeful fans.

santa2.jpg

The Santa Cruz Rollergirls in Action



I think we are great ambassadors of the sport. Not only are we
advocates of giving back to our community and presenting ourselves as
respectable dedicated athletes, but we run the SCRG like a well-oiled
machine. Roller derby is not just about skating but it's a business
too. If you want to see a league succeed, having even-headed smart
women at the hull is a must and the SCRG shines bright on this as
well.


Drew Barrymore will be making her directorial debut this summer in a
derby-themed movie entitled "Whip It!" starring Ellen Page?

For more information about Drew Barrymore's "Whip It" Click here:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1172233/


Here's a little fan footage from our last bout (Santa Cruz is in back and
blue)


http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=prH8V4psNFk
Thank you so much, if you tweet or share
UP
Have you read it?
Batuleviciute is the  UIPM Champion of Champions

New world military champion claims second title of 2017

Jepkosgei breaks world half marathon record in Valencia

Please follow us