Roller derby revival

Loading Likes...

Roller derby is the only sport that can match tulle and striped stockings with bruises. It’s also the only sport that’s had such a revival in the last five years.
Joe Keris from The Chicago Tribune coined the term roller derby in 1922 and the sport took off during the Great Depression. During the 60s and 70s, It faded in popularity after it became too much about amusement and not about athleticism. However, in the last five years it has experienced a major rebirth, even spurning a cult hit movie, Whip It in 2009.

Duck and cover: Derby practice isn't all sunshine and rainbows

Though derby started out with leagues of both sexes, the majority of leagues are all female. Points are scored when one team member, the jammer, laps the opposing team. This physical contact requires participants to wear equipment consisting of wrist guards, a mouth guard, a helmet and knee and elbow pads – all embellished with an anything-but-typical punk style.
Coachlite Roller Gardens, located at 88 King St. W., lets Durham’s own bombshells in roller skates lap its colourfully decorated rink for competition.
This past Tuesday was the last practice with the returnees and next Tuesday will welcome the so-called “fresh meat” in a co-mingling of squads as they all practice together two nights a week. Earlier this year just under 40 girls signed up at the Durham Region Roller Derby’s (DRRD) Fresh Meat event in hopes of joining the derby league. Only 20 still remain.
DRRD will divide into two teams shortly, The Motor City Madams and The Atom Smashers. From these teams, they will create a travel team, The Durham Derby Devils, consisting of their best 14 players.
Sarah King switches between roller and ice skates in her free time. Her derby name is Cutsie Bootsie. Derby girls pick their own derby names based on their personalities.
“It’s definitely a life style, a life change,” she says of derby. “Something to get your frustration out. Beat the [expletive] out of each other and go out for some beers afterward.” Her cute demeanor, a mix between giggling and cursing personifies the sport’s image.
DRRD takes the floor at Coachlite every Tuesday and Thursday

For more information, visit the DRRD website for contact details.
Story and images by Hillary DiMenna