Stadalsky: Roller derby action skates into Channahon
By Kris Stadalsky firstname.lastname@example.org February 15, 2013 4:08PM
A Voo Doo Dolls jammer fights her way through Bayou Bombshell blockers during the Southland Slashers’ Rumbalaya Roller Derby bout at Channahon Skateland. Male coaches and refs got to join in the interleague game. | Kris Stadalsky ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 19, 2013 6:11AM
There’s nothing compared to watching your first-ever roller derby bout. That’s what I did on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Channahon’s Skateland Recreation Center as the Southland Slashers held their first bout at their new home track.
Roller derby might bring back memories of actress Raquel Welch in the 1972 movie “Kansas City Bomber.” Or more recently, the 2009 movie “Whip It” with Ellen Page and Jimmy Fallon, directed by Drew Barrymore.
And while movies are always more farfetched than real life, there is definitely a bit of drama that goes on behind the scenes of a roller derby team. After all, it is all women, said Slashers teammate Rocky Whorror.
Just as you would expect, roller derby players like to get into their roles. They select a league-sanctioned name and they like to play it up with accessories to their uniforms, hair and make-up. It’s like having an alter-ego, said teammate Abbey Sessive.
And there is quite a transformation. You would never know that the person who works at a local store whom you see regularly transforms into a high-speed skater on a flat track on Saturday nights.
While the outfits and players’ personas are a draw of their own, watching women skating at break-neck speed and pushing their way through the opposing team’s pack to score can be pretty exciting.
Here’s a “roller derby rules for dummies” for those of us new to the game:
There’s a jammer on each team who has the ability to score points. The blockers are the ones who attempt to stop the jammer from passing through the pack and scoring.
A bout lasts an hour and is made up of multiple, two-minute periods called jams. At the start of each jam everyone lines up, the blockers behind a pivot line and jammers behind the jam line. A whistle sets off the skating.
On the initial pass through the pack, no points are scored but jammers race to obtain lead status by getting through the pack first without going out of bounds.
For the rest of the jam, the lead jammer scores a point for every blocker she passes.
The jams can be played out the full two minutes or the lead blocker can call off the jam if the opposing team is threatening to score.
There are only seconds between jams, which means players are skating long and hard.
There’s definitely some roughness as the blockers try to stop the opposing jammer from getting through. Skaters can block their opponents, check or even assist their own teammates by pulling them through the pack.
The Slashers’ first bout in Channahon was an interleague game. The senior division, ages 18 and up, broke up into two teams to play — the Bayou Bombshells and the Voo Doo Dolls. At the end of the bout, the Voo Doo Dolls won 193 to 135 over the Bayou Bombshells.
In the junior division, the Southland Slasher Jrs. played against visiting team The Chicago Riots. The Slashers won the bout 196 to 167.
The Southland Slashers have been playing for two years. Their original home track is in Godley and now they call Channahon their second home. They travel all over Illinois to play bouts and have even gone to Wisconsin and Indiana.
Slashers player and team promoter Wylde Lil wants people to know that roller derby is a sport, and a tough sport at that. It’s a full-contact sport that takes a lot of endurance and aerobic training.
You don’t have to fit into anybody’s idea of a perfect image to play roller derby, Wylde Lil said.
“We are about being proud of who we are and knowing we have the ability to go out and play such a tough sport,” she said.
To find out more about joining or seeing the Southland Slashers, check out their website at www.SouthlandSlashers.com or see them on their Facebook page.
Reach Kris Stadalsky at email@example.com.