For many of you they need no introduction. But for those who don’t know who they are let me introduce to you, The Windy City Rollers (WCR), Chicago’s first of two derby leagues that exist in the city. What’s women’s roller derby you ask? Women’s roller derby is one of the fastest growing women’s sports in the country, and by the looks of things, there’s no stopping it anytime soon. Is there anything more exciting then fierce competition, speed, strength, contact, sweat, blood and tears? Yeah, only if you can put it on wheels and wash it down with a beer!
Roller Derby began right here in our own backyard during the Great Depression. Our grandmothers were strapping them on (roller skates) and taking to the tracks in order to provide some good ole Depression type entertainment.
The first-ever roller derby game was played here at the Chicago Coliseum in August 13th, 1935. Derby continued for years and even had teams lace up and play a basketball game against the Harlem Globetrotters. It has traversed strange phases, like the fake-violence ridden bouts of the 70’s or the truly violent banked rinks of the 80’s, but it has continued to grow and change with the times. But after the 80’s the businesses that owned the leagues walked away and teams disbanded. There was derby, lying dormant, like your favorite sweater buried under your least favorite clothes, just waiting to be resurrected and rediscovered once again.
The current resurgence came about in the 2000’s down in Texas. In 2004 a couple women got together in Chicago, picked Derby up and shook the dust off of her. The Windy City Rollers started skating at the congress theater in 2005 and were skating in front of selling out crowds. Their growth continues and they now skate at the UIC Pavilion where they get fans in the thousands coming out to see them.
Roller derby’s popularity increased even more when Drew Barrymore made her directorial debut with Whip It, starring Ellen Page. Coincidently, one of WCR’s All Star team captains had her acting debut playing herself on Page’s team. Her name is Jackie Daniels and next week she will be featured in our athlete spotlight.
While talking to her I had so many questions but first I had to know how one goes about getting a roller girl’s name. A roller girl can never choose the same name that a previous skater has used, I learned. She told me a little secret, if you go to http://www.twoevils.org/rollergirls you can search for any name you come up with and it’ll tell you if its available. I tried this out with a couple names to find out what name I would use if I played. “”Ima Killem Ana Savem” is still available, it seemed perfect being a paramedic, and coincidentally, Athlesbian was also available…phew. Try it out! What would your derby name be? This little visit to a website just be what you need to start the beginning of your new derby career. But first, you need to see a bout!!!!
So come out May 21st – 6:00 p.m. Windy City Rollers Home Season – Bout 6 at the UIC Pavilion (which sells beer during the bouts) 525 S Racine, Chicago, IL. Also, don’t skip out on the after party which is held at Bottom lounge. There is dancing upstairs of the bar and many a skater can be found there in the early hours of the morning. Often times one of their sponsors, Action Booth, will take fun photos in and projects them on the wall.
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About The Athlesbian
Meg was born and raised in Chicago where she became an avid sports fan the moment she laid her eyes on her first ball. She has a knack for picking up any sport quickly as most four sport high school athletes would. Meghan played two sports in college and spent her post college years playing women’s pro football, capturing a national title, before having to quit due to injury. She still plays numerous sports in rec leagues around the city and boasts at a recent team tryout knocked out 51 consecutive push-ups in a minute. Always willing to try something new she just played in her first rugby match. Meghan currently works as a fire-medic and is finishing her Master’s degree from University of Chicago, and no, unfortunately, its not in sports reporting!