originally published in the Ithaca Week, a weekly magazine produced by the students of the Advanced Multimedia Journalism class at the Roy H. Park School of Communications, Ithaca College.
“Welcome to ‘Your Mom’s Place’,” Johnna Gray shouts above the clamor of skidding wheels and conversation. It’s the end of a sweaty practice for the Ithaca League of Women Rollers Junior Team, and the enthusiastic derby trainer is ushering the night’s “fresh meat” into the rink.
Lingo for new recruits, the continuous turnaround of “fresh meat” to the ILWR mirrors a larger trend in derby. Today, roller derby is considered to be the fastest growing sport, with more than 273 full member teams worldwide listed as of 2013, according to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.
The game is played with five players on each team — four blockers and one jammer, or point-scorer. Points are scored when the first jammer to make her way through the pack passes players on her second lap. The ILWR has two main teams, the Suffer Jets and the Blue Stockings.
But while the sport is currently a global craze, Gray, a graphic design student at Tompkins Cortland Community College, is honest about the lasting legacy of derby, which has a tendency to fade from the spotlight as fast as team rosters change. Gray skated with the Cortland-based team, the Crown City Rollers, for four years before transferring to the ILWR, which began in 2007, when the team had to shut down due to financial reasons.
The sport’s unpredictable levels of popularity are often attributed to derby’s bad reputation for being dangerous or staged. These misconceptions, Sue ‘Cam Arrow’ Dozoretz, the former Ithaca Suffer Jets co-captain, said detract from the public’s understanding of roller derby as a serious sport that combines athleticism, strategy and teamwork.
It is essential for participants in derby to warm up and properly train new recruits the fundamentals, including skating, blocking, and most of all, how to fall safely and recover, Vancouver-based derby enthusiast, nutritionist and trainer, Carla “Booty Quake” Smith, said.
“Cross training and warming up are really important in roller derby because it’s an injury prone sport,” Smith said. “It’s not a matter of if you’ll get injured. It’s more of a question of when and how badly. We keep insurance statistics in our league and we have lower incidences of injuries after warm ups.”
Dozoretz says even though roller derby is a fast-paced, full contact sport, and participants can have athletic injuries like broken fingers or ACL tears, it is no more dangerous than soccer.
“We’ve grown really smart about how we train, so we train to prevent injury,” Dozoretz said. “I do a lot of cross training outside of derby so that I don’t get hurt, and I don’t think the injury rate is any higher than in any other sport.”
New skater Chrysalis Kendall has been attending roller derby practices for about three weeks. The hardest part about the sport so far for her is the scare factor, but since the team is very inviting she feels accepted and wants to continue playing.
“Before doing this, I had probably roller skated twice in my life,” she said. “[But] everyone here is really nice, [and] they want everyone to learn and be safe. They also want everyone to really have fun and enjoy what they’re doing.”
Dozoretz, who retired in October, is still active in roller derby and continues to help train the new members. She said as a competitive athlete, she stayed involved in the sport because the SufferJets continue to improve and she wants to help the next generation of skaters.
“I really like the physical challenge of this sport,” she said. “I like that every season I come back, there’s new skills that I want to master, and continue to become a better skater.”
We also excited to announce the first bout of the 2015 season. The ILJR Title IXs will play in Buffalo against the Queen City junior rollers.
The bout starts in Buffalo on Saturday, January 18 at 5:30pm at the Rainbow Rink.
We’ll post more details as we get them!]]>
The Winter 2015 Session is open to experienced derby skaters only. No new skaters will be accepted unless they are experienced transfer skaters.
DATES: January 6 – March 26
LOCATION: ILWR/ILJR Training Space: East Shore Drive, Lansing
TIMES: Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:00- 7:30 pm
DUES: Session Fee $90*
INSURANCE: Mandatory accident insurance is required for each skater per calendar year (fee is $35/year).
Current Coaches: Fanny, Con, Bento, Taco, and Riot
GEAR: Skaters must have: mouthguard, helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, and skates. More info. (The ILJR has a limited supply of loaner gear in some sizes – available on a first come, first served basis.) More info.
Worried about the cost?
We have a solution for you!
The Ithaca League of Women’s Rollers was awarded a grant from The Community Foundation’s Women’s Fund to help make it possible for YOU to join us! ILWR is proud to announce we have two financial aid scholarships available for two new adult skaters for the 2014-2015 season!
All interested applicants are encouraged to apply. Skater’s interest and well as financial need will be considered when evaluating applications. Two (2) skaters will receive $1250 each to help offset the cost of joining ILWR. See our recruitment and training page for more info about joining.
Low income, people of color, queer and gender non-conforming individuals are encouraged to apply. Deadline for submissions is November 10th, 2014. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Have more questions? See our FAQ below.
Learn to skate and play roller derby!
Interested in finding out what it takes to play roller derby? Attend our open house and recruitment night!
You’ll be able to check out our practice space and find out all about the skills you’ll learn and our training schedule. All women over 18 are welcome and no commitment or equipment is required at this time! Come, bring a friend, ask questions, and get ready to change your life!
Open House: October 13th and 20th, 7:30pm.
Freshmeat training starts October 14th.
No experience necessary!!
Gear and skate rental available!
Are there any scholarships available?
Yes, there are scholarships available for two new skaters. See our scholarship page for more info.
For more information visit our recruitment page.
Location: 2073 E. Shore Dr.
Don’t miss your last chance this year to cheer on the SufferJets as they take on New York City’s Grand Central Terminators. The SJs have given their all to rise in the WFTDA rankings to #73 this season and they are ready to roll into Cass Park for one more win. The fall temperature might be dropping but the competition will be heating up and the SufferJets will keep you warm with blood pumping action.
A portion of the proceeds from the bout will go to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ithaca & Tompkins County, Big Brothers Big Sister’s very own Program Director, Joe Gibson, will be singing the national anthem!
Saturday, October 4, 2014 from 10am-Noon
Saturday, October 4, 2014, doors at 6PM, game at 7PM
Thrash began her derby career with the Babe City Rollers of Minnesota in 2011, and joined up with us this past winter. She loves a good derby workout, and the post-practice bliss that follows an intense session. Thrash is a huge fan of the outdoors, and spends a lot of her time canoeing, kayaking, hiking and running. She’s even seen a grizzly bear in the wilds of Canada! Thrash also dedicates some of her time to local radio and grassroots community organizing in Ithaca.]]>
Check out our latest session starting October 7, and get more info here: http://www.ithacarollerderby.com/iljr/
Next start thinking of your derby name! A derby name is sort of like having a super power. Check out these cool names: Daisy Jukes, Racing Rainbow, Riptide, Zebra Muscle, Rosa Sparks. Cookie Crumble, Smarty Pants, Snot Rocket Science, Scald Eagle, Smack ‘n Cheese. Got a great name? Awesome, we can’t wait to hear it!
Now on Facebook!]]>
Catch them while they’re hot! Fresh off a 3 bout winning streak, the Ithaca BlueStockings will go for victory #4 in this cross-border bout against the Rideau Valley Sirens from Ottawa, ON. The BlueStockings have been skating hard and are ready to bring an exciting game to their hometown crowd. Don’t miss the last bout of their 2014 season and end your summer with a bang!
A portion of the proceeds from the bout will go to benefit the Family Reading Partnership. Bring a gently used children’s book for the Bright Red Bookshelf and receive $2 off your admission!
• Roll on over to our after party at The Dock (formerly Castaways), located at 415 Taughannock Blvd.
UPCOMING HOME BOUTS:
Saturday, October 4, 2014 – SufferJets vs. Garden State Ironbound Maidens