I didn’t know until about five minutes ago that roller derby has been around in one form or another since the original endurance races of the 1880s. My personal recollections date back to Raquel Welch skating her way through the early 1970s in the movie Kansas City Bomber. I never saw it, but I nonetheless grew up with the impression that roller derby = mean girls on skates.
So that’s what I was expecting when my husband and I joined some friends at O.D.’s Sports Crossing to watch the local Choice City Rebels (loving that name!) take on Greeley’s Slaughterhouse Derby Girls. Now, I’m pretty low-key in general. I don’t have tattoos. I don’t use the word “grrl.” Some days, the most adventurous thing I do is leave the house without sunscreen. In all honesty, I was afraid that roller derby would be too over-the-top for me. I don’t mind some campy showmanship, but let’s just say I’m no fan of WWE.
But roller derby has rules. (Thanks to derby girl Lynn, who explained them to us.) And referees. And penalties. When the bout started, it became apparent that these girls are not in it for show. My big surprise of the night was discovering that roller derby is not just about pushing and shoving—though there certainly is that. It requires teamwork, strategy, and speed. Watching the jammers thread their way through the jostling pack gave me a whole new appreciation for agility. And toughness. When the skaters fall, they often fall hard. Most of the time, they get right back up. Sometimes, they don’t, and EMTs are on hand to treat any injuries.
The bout consisted of two thirty-minute halves. The referees blew their whistles almost constantly, and I could only figure out why about twenty percent of the time. By the second half, though, I had a better understanding of what was going on—at least I knew who to cheer for and when. And it really was fun. A word of warning, however: the music is loud, and the skaters’ names can be a little racy. If your ears are sensitive to either, take along some earplugs.
Final score: Choice City Rebels 228, Slaughterhouse Derby Girls 91. Way to go, Rebs!
We sat in the Bootie Zone!