Local roller derby offers opportunities
November 13, 2014
Filed under Sports
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There is no female sport equivalent to football. Roller derby is quite a contender for the spot, though.
Classified as “serious leisure,” roller derby is a fully physical, mentally grueling activity that more and more females are becoming involved in.
“Feminism is a big part of the sport. Many women say they feel much stronger and that they have a voice. For a lot of people who had depression or physical health issues, roller derby helped them,” said Andrea Eklund, current head coach for the Rodeo City Rollergirls, and a full time professor of apparel, textiles and merchandising. “It has taken control of their life and it is so amazing to watch.”
The sport began in the 1970 in Texas. Today, roller derby is global and expands from world championship events to the middle school league level.
In a “bout” there are two 30-minute periods with two-minute ‘jams’ happening during that time. Jammers, the scorers of the team, must skate through the other team’s blockers, receiving a point for each blocker they pass during the jam. Blockers must play offense and defense at the same moment. Blocking is done by hitting above the knees or below the shoulders. Players wear helmets, mouth guards, elbow and knee pads and wrist guards.
Ellensburg’s team, the Rodeo City Rollergirls is looking for more Central students to become involved. The Rodeo City players range from 19-45 years old.
The team travels as far as Montana for bouts, but mainly stays in the state to play.
Eklund has skated all across the United States and even took time to coach a team in Milan, Italy. She also published an article on roller derby and the impact it has on females’ body image.
Physically, emotionally and mentally, the sport has changed many players’ lives. Roller derby offers an opportunity for women of all backgrounds to become involved.
“There are so many ways to get involved. Everyone has a place on the track,” Eklund said. “It doesn’t matter your size, your height, or your weight. There is a spot for you and it is valued.”
Roller derby is as much of a sport as it is an outlet for players to express themselves.
“It has definitely taken over my life. Some people come for the fun aspect or the social part because you can create friends,” Nicole Klauss, a Daily Record reporter and member of the Rodeo City Rollergirls, said. “But you do have these girls who are very quiet, and as they are learning these skills, they are building this confidence and are coming out of their shell in a way they didn’t think they could before.”
The sport has transformed the perceptions of women’s bodies from being overweight, to being intimidated by a woman’s size on the track. Having large body features is only looked at negatively when you are on the opposing team in roller derby.
“It is looking at the body very differently. The sport has really broken it down as what can it do for you, rather than what it is,” Eklund said. “Rather than ‘Oh I hate my butt.’ it is ‘I love my butt because I can hit someone really hard or they are not going to get around me.’”
The sport is continuing to grow, allowing women who are interested in it to join a team in their hometown.
The Rodeo City Rollergirls are in a two-month practice period and will resume their season in mid January.