By, Rani B. ’21
Roller derby—that sport you thought was just a myth from the 70s—is in fact real! Roller derby was founded in 1920 and has evolved from an endurance sport to a contact sport. Despite changes to the format and rules since then, roller derby has retained its popularity and entertainment over the years.
Izzy T. has been competing in this unique sport for over three years. Now, what on earth is roller derby, you ask, and how do you compete? Well, the objective of roller derby is to get points by passing members of the other team. There are five people from each team on the track at a time (around 20 on a team), four of them are blockers, and one is a jammer. The jammer tries to get points by physically passing the other teams blockers, who attempt to use their bodies to stop them. Roller derby is played in ‘jams’ or time periods, each around two minutes, and at the start of a jam, each team puts out five players. At the end of a bout, made of two 30-minute periods split up into jams, the team with the most points wins.
Roller derby’s main league is the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), a global organization that hosts a number of divisions, championships, and tournaments all over the world. Before this year, Izzy was in junior roller derby, but now that they’re 18, tried out for Boston’s official teams. This year, Izzy will be playing for the Nutcrackers. Boston has four teams that play against each other in bouts: The Nutcrackers, The Harbor Horrors, The Wicked Pissahs, and The Cosmonaughies.
Izzy is both a jammer and a blocker, and they told me that when they started during their freshman year, they “didn’t see themself playing with grown adults.” Izzy says they were drawn to the sport “because it has a really cool history of female empowerment.” Roller derby is indeed an empowering sport for women as it allows them to both be aggressive, successful, and feminine at the same time, breaking societal expectations. Ms. Uhre-Balk has also played roller derby, and she says, “it is impressive that Izzy has received the opportunity to compete at such a young age.”
Each player has a ‘derby name’ similar to code names or nicknames, and Izzy said, “I particularly like derby names because they are super fun, you come up with your own, or your friends do, it’s personal, and it’s a reminder that the sport is meant to have fun.” Izzy’s own derby name is “Pepto Dismal,” or “Dizzy” for short. Izzy encourages Winsor students to come to their first bout on Saturday, January 12, 5 p.m. at Shriners auditorium to support them and to have a fun time watching this extraordinary sport!