If you trace history back to the late 1800’s, you may be surprised to find that there are roller derby Chicago origins. That is correct, roller derby was essentially formed in Chicago – although, it has evolved over the years. During the 1930s is when roller derby as we know it began to form. The sport has had its ups and downs, but in the past decade it has really been making its mark again. It should have never faded away – it is fantastic. The names are great, the fashion is unique, the women are pretty hardcore, and the atmosphere is just… rad.
These leagues have helped to revitalize the sport back in its homeland of Chicago. Do not be fooled by my light-hearted writing. These damsels are not in distress, and I may receive a beating after this article.
Roller Derby Chicago Leagues:
The Windy City Rollers
The Windy City Rollers is the premiere roller derby Chicago league. They revitalized the sport in September of 2004 – the last ten years have been fierce. Since their start, they have had a few home-tracks. Their popularity was growing, therefore they were continuously seeking out larger venues. In July of 2008, they made the UIC Pavilion the league’s new home.
The league is comprised of multiple home teams and traveling teams. They range from rookie [where players can hone in their skills before being drafted], all the way up to All-Stars [they take the best from all the teams to make a beast of team to represent internationally].
525 South Racine
Chicago, IL 60607
The Chicago Outfit
The Chicago Outfit is a roller derby league that is heavily dedicated to promoting a positive female community. They take derby serious, and have worked hard to make a name for themselves. The Chicago Outfit began in 2007; they pushed through the trial stages and honed in their skills. In 2010 they were welcomed to be a part of the’Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). The league is made up of three highly skilled teams that aim to take on roller derby nationwide with class, sass, and dignity.
They love this sport and want others to enjoy it – as well as help it grow. They have taken the’initiative to act as coaches , teachers, mentors, by being the parent organization to The Chicago Riots. They are a junior roller derby Chicago team.
Players range from the age of ’12-17 [18 if still in high-school].
On top of their own success, they are highly involved in
giving back. A portion of their profits are donated to non-profits.
Windy City Fieldhouse
2367 W Logan Blvd
Chicago, IL 60647
DuPage Derby Dames
You do not need to be in the heart of Chicago to enjoy roller derby action. The DuPage Derby Dames have swept the western suburbs of Chicago. They strive to engage the community as much as possible – in the name of awareness and growth. ‘Their home bouts are duked out at Coachlite Skate Center. They believe that not only is the sport great for women in numerous ways, but it is also good for the community. The skills learned on the ring, such as leadership, can trickle into everyday. Aside from life-skills, they are active with charities and fundraisers.
Coachlite Skate Center
1291 W Bryn Mawr Ave
Roselle, IL 60172
The Aurora 88s are one of the newest leagues in the roller derby Chicago scene. They have taken the action to the suburbs, and have been shaking the ground hard. The’Aurora Skate Center’is what they have claimed as their home track. They have really made a name for themselves in the league. They have formed two successful teams of aggressively lovely ladies to represent, on top of it they have also been very proactive in promoting the sport, the women, and the community.
Aurora Skate Center
34W113 Montgomery Rd
Aurora, IL 60504
While reaching out and speaking with these teams, I was informed of a common misconception that has been floating around the rink.
Many people believe that, “the Aurora 88s’broke off from the Dupage Derby Dames, which is a common misunderstanding. The Dupage Derby Dames disbanded in early 2011 and left the Aurora Skate Center. Our league was then formed by two former Windy City Rollers and many of the Dames skaters joined the 88s since the league had disbanded, which is why people get confused. Many people think there is some kind of rivalry between our two leagues, which isn’t the case at all.”
College Gloss Quick Ruling Breakdown:
The bout has two 30-minute halves, and the goal is to pass as many players as possible while going around the circular track.
Each team has five players.
Pivot: These two players wear stripes on their helmets. Their role is to set the pace of the game.
Jammer: This person wears a star on their helmet. There is one per team, and they are the ones who score points by lapping opponents.
Blocker: These two players assist their team’s Jammer to make their way through the pack. They also try to prevent the opponent’s Jammer from passing.
The Jam, what each round is called, begins by having the two teams line up, waiting for the single whistle the ref blows. Everyone but the Jammers start. When the pack reaches the start line, the ref blows two whistles and the Jammers start to weave their way through the pack. The first Jammer to go through the pack is the ‘Lead Jammer.’ No points are given for this. The Jammer has two minutes to pass opponents and gain as many points as they can.
Points are given after the Lead Jammer is determined.
They then begin to do laps; every player that the Lead Jammer passes is a point.
Extra points are given if a Jammer laps opposing Jammer; this is called a Grand Slam.
The Lead Jammer can call off a ‘Jam’ when they place their hands on their hips. The refs then tallies up the points. The Jammer calls off ‘Jam’ after two minutes have passed or if the opponent Jammer is about to pass. This way they won’t lose points.
If any of this has peaked your interest in even the slightest bit, I highly recommend you checking out a bout first-hand. Maybe you will be inspired to put some skates on yourself. There are many other derby choices around Illinois as well.