Most 11-year-old girls are focused on the newest fashion and how to do their makeup. What to wear and which earrings go with which skirt.
The 11-year-old derby girls rock skirts too but their skirts come with ripped tights and kneepads. Bruised legs and sore bodies are the struggle for derby girls.
The minimum requirement to join the West Kentucky Rockin’ Rollers (WKRR) is being able to skate 25 laps in five minutes or less.
Roller derby girls play hard. They are like football players on wheels. The second member of the team hits the floor and then up the next is another member of the team.
A competition in roller derby is called a bout. The way roller derby is played is simple. Five girls from each team take the floor. Four girls on each team will play defense they are called the pack. These girls use their bodies to create a wall in an attempt to block the jammer. The jammer is the offensive fifth player. She is marked with a star on her helmets. Their main goal is to break the pack up and destroy the defense. When they do that they get to do a victory lap around the track while the pack sets up for her return.
The excitement on their faces when the jammers do break through the pack is clear. The crowd erupted every time.
The team is led by President Kiaya ‘Kaze’ Young. She started playing in January of 2011 when she was a senior in high school. She said she had seen roller derby in her town and became interested. The Radio Active City Roller girls were the team that first caught her interest when she saw some of their games.
“I first thought ‘oh no I can’t do that– it’s crazy,’” Young said.
When she found out that an old friend had created her own team called the WKRR she went out to see them at their beginner’s camp. Young went out and tried it for the first time and immediately fell in love with the sport.
Young plays with the adult West Kentucky Rockin’ Rollers. She has been running the youth team since March of 2012.
“We play flat track. There is something called banked track but you don’t get as many good hits with banked. It’s kind of like a race with obstacles. As the jammers are trying to get through, you’re trying to help your team and at the same time trying to stop the other one. It’s like playing offense and defense at the same time,” Young said.
The WKRR team has skaters from all skill levels ranging from age four to 18. The WKRR girls play on a flat track instead of the banked track which has raised edges.
Once you become a member of a Roller Derby team, it is tradition to be given a “derby”
name. A few names from last weekend’s scrimmage included Terminator, J.K Rolling, Sugar Bear and Blue.
The WKRR is a nonprofit organization that works to support locally—owned businesses and local charities. In order to have funding, the WKRR host events such as car washes and bake sales to help. The group also uses this money to fund travel and participation at their regional competition.
To the young girls that participate in roller derby it’s not just about winning, it’s about building confidence and friendships.
The WKRR team practice every week for two hours a day. The Kingsway Skateland is their home rink where they schedule.
Last Sunday the WKRR hosted a scrimmage at Kingsway Arena. Three teams were present: the Battle Diva’s from River City, the Central, Ky. The Roller Derby Team from Lexington, Ky., and the WKRR.
“As a team the WKRR will get experience working well with other kids,” said Young.
A normal game consists of two 30-minute halves but this weekend’s scrimmage was a bit different.
The bout started with the WKRR and Central teams as they played for 30 minutes, then in the final the winner played the Battle Divas.
After all three teams had played each other the coaches slip the three teams into two teams by giving them either a black shirt or a white one. All the other matches had been very aggressive but this one was the most hard core.
“We wanted the kids in the area to be able to play roller derby,” Young said. “It was a small movement but we had a great turnout.”
Young has a coaching staff of four others that assist her in running the team. There is a head coach, a bench coach, beginners coach and two other coaches that assist as needed.
If interested in joining more information is available at wkrockinrollers.com.
Story by Da’Sha Tuck, Staff writer