I was asked by a friend to give her the low-down on Roller Derby, as she has seen that I have become quite taken by watching this sport. So I thought, instead of just attempting to explain it to one person, it may be easier if I just write a whole new blog post, that may help anyone else keen to learn about the sport. Please note though, that I am by no means professing to know much at all about it, just what I have seen over the last two bouts!

So, firstly, Roller Derby is not like the old RollerBall movie that may first spring to mind for those of you of the more senior years, such as myself. There are no balls on the playing arena, although some of these ladies do look extremely tough! The arena itself is an oval shaped course marked on the hard concrete floor, (can you get soft concrete?), that the players have to stay within.

From the outset, this sport is quite exciting. There is live music, the announcers all know the sport well, and get the audience involved, and the players themselves create a fantastic theatrical entrance that reminds me somewhat of some of the opening scenes that wrestlers would use, with the themed music, choreographed moves and props. All great fun. The other awesome part of this sport, is that these girls live & breathe it. If they are not playing, they are there volunteering at the bouts, or paying to come in to watch! You have to love it when they are that committed to making it both a success, and accessible to others to come along and enjoy.

The players themselves, are all female, (I’ve been told that there is no male league cos us guys are just too soft!), and all very capable skaters, and all take personal safety very carefully. They all wear helmets, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, and whoever knows what else under their kit! Mind you though, when some of these girls go down, they can go down hard! I’ve been up in the bleachers my two games, and I would swear you can feel some of their landings!

There are more referees in a confined space than I have seen in any other sport, proving that yes, there are rules, and yes, these rules have to be followed. There is a sin bin area where player get sent off to cool down if they have been a little nawty, and continued nawtiness can result in them being benched for the remainder of the bout!

The teams I know of are the Mile Die Club, Salty Dolls, Road Train Rollers, and the Wild Hearses, all, as I said, under the watchful eyes of a team of umpires called Team Zebra! (Zebra easy to work out really, cos of the black & white striped umpires kit, oh, and they have an inflatable zebra mascot too!) Everyone out on the field, umpires included, have Roller Derby names, and I am not sure how they arrive at these, but some of them are:

Roller Derby Name Team
Suspend Her Sentence Team Zebra
The Brain of Morbius Team Zebra
Push My Toosh Mile Die Club
Grimy Knickers Mile Die Club
Karmen Getme Road Train Rollers
Kit Cat Crunch Road Train Rollers
Coconut Rough Salty Dolls
Crispy Saltbush Salty Dolls
Barrelhouse Betty Wild Hearses
Hot X Guns Wild Hearses

In a bout, there are two teams playing, and each can field up to five players on the track at one time. The positions are Pivot/Blocker who is denoted by a striped helmet cover, 3 more blockers in a tight pack, and the Jammer, denoted by a star on their helmet cover. The Blockers all start on the pack line, and the Jammers start some 6 metres back behind them.

The object is that within 90 seconds, the Jammer has to make their way passed all of the Blockers, then when they come back around, the Jammer in front is the Lead Jammer. As they make their way through the Blockers again, they score a point for each blocker they pass. The Lead Blocker has the right to call off the jam at any time they want, by putting their hands on their hips repeatedly.

So whilst the Jammers are doing their bit, the Blockers are doing their best to prevent the opposition Jammer from getting through in the first place, and then limiting the number of Blockers they pass when they come around and start lapping them. The game is split into two 30 minute halves, and it really is surprising how fast they time passes!

The half time break is 20 minutes, which allows plenty of time for those who want to go to the bar to do so, and charge up for the second half! What a sport!

So that is my little summary of a sport I am really enjoying watching, there is something about it that just appeals. Is it that base level of enjoying watching people combat each other? Is it the flashbacks to a mis-spent drunken youth, rollerskating at DownTown, causing havoc on the rink? Not sure, but I am sure that come hell or high water, I will be there for the Grand Final in July!!

For more information, and even a little informative movie file, check out www.adelaiderollerderby.com! Or check them out on Facebook too, as this sport is global, not just something that is played here! Awesome sauce my friends!