The “organized chaos” of a community on wheels


The Rodeo City Roller Derby Team. Photo courtesy of Rodeo City Roller Derby

Jordyn Rossmeisl, Staff Reporter

As the sun sets in Ellensburg and people begin to wind down for the night, the Ellensburg High School (EHS) gym comes to life. Readers may be wondering, ‘what could be going on in a high school gym after hours?’ Here’s a little hint: it’s a fast-paced sport on wheels. If you guessed roller derby, you’d be correct! 

The Rodeo City Roller Derby team, a tight-knit community of players, gathers twice weekly at the EHS gym for practice.

The new skaters practicing. (Jordyn Rossmeisl)


Roller derby team member April Rohrbach, also known as “Fastest Cactus,” described roller derby as “organized chaos … a pretty full contact, kind of wild sport, but it’s fun to watch and really fun to play.” 

President of the team Lynn Bethke, also known as “Hildegard of Bring It,” said, “It is played on eight wheels, on skates, and you’re playing offense and defense at the same time. Which, like April says, makes it chaos.” 

Bethke said there “aren’t that many [full-contact sports] for women and gender expansive individuals,” which contributes to the “bad-assery” of the sport.

According to their website,, the sport “is played on a flat, oval track, with two teams of fifteen players. Play is broken up into two 30-minute periods, and within those periods, into units of play called “Jams,” which last up to two minutes. There are 30 seconds between each Jam. During a Jam, each team fields up to five Skaters.” 

The Skaters are split into categories, “Blockers” and a “Jammer.” The Blockers try to block the opposing team’s Jammer, whose job it is to get past the blocker in a lap. The players learn the rules and go through training to keep the game fun and safe.

According to Bethke, the sense of community fostered in roller derby stands out.

Slabretooth Tiger. (Jordyn Rossmeisl)

“One of the things about roller derby is that it’s a community,” Bethke said. “We’ve had a ton of new people, so I feel like we are still growing some of these new bonds, but people are here for each other which has been a really great thing about this particular league.”

Rohrbach said, “yeah, we will hit you, but we’ll help you get back up. It seems pretty intimidating at first … some of the people seem a little scary, but everyone is really super sweet.” 

According to Bethke, anybody has a place within the roller derby community, regardless of their body type or prior experience.  

Kayla Robinson, also known as “Slabretooth Tiger,” shared this sentiment. 

“There’s a spot for anybody, whether it’s skating, being an official [or] being a non-skating official, so we have positions where you don’t even have to put skates on,” Robinson said. “ My advice for people who are interested in joining roller derby, in general, is: don’t wait.” 

Robinson said the team is always interested in volunteers, like photographers and artists. 

“A lot of people put it off because they’re like, what if this happens? What if this happens?” Robinson said. “You’re always going to have something in your life. My other advice is, if you‘re not sure because you haven’t tried it out, we have loaner gear. We’re able to assist for at least a practice or two.”

The new skaters practice. (Jordyn Rossmeisl)

In addition to meeting for practice, the team often plans bonding activities and participates in competitive matches called “scrimmages” with other teams from all over the region.  

If you would like to see one of these scrimmages yourself, you can check out the new skaters’ scrimmage on Jan. 28.

“That’s where you’re gonna see all these new skaters … quite a few of them get to debut in their first real scrimmage,” Rohrbach said. 

If you would just like to get to know the team, they are doing a pint night at Iron Horse Tap Room on Jan. 26. In addition to meeting the team, the event will include raffles and a costume contest. 

As for those who are interested in learning more or want to join right away, people may reach out to their email, [email protected]. For more information, you can check out their website,