580 Rollergirls: leading the pack

Photo by Marie Bagwel

Marie Bagwell
Staff Writer

On March 14, black and purple jerseys bustled around the locker room at The Great Plains Coliseum as the women of the 580 Rollergirls prepared for their first home bout of the season.

Skaters donned elbow and knee pads, wrist and mouth guards, helmets and quad skates before taking the floor on a flat track marked with rope and tape.

Roller derby is a contact sport played between two teams of five members skating around a track. Each team is represented by four blockers and a jammer. The jammers wear special caps marked with two large stars on their helmets to identify them to the other team.

Fourth-year 580 Rollergirl member Kaley Meyer explained the jammer’s value to the team.

“The jammer is like the ball,” Meyer said. “They score the points, so they are the playmakers.”

When the bout begins, the blockers group together in a pack to keep out the other team’s jammer while simultaneously trying to make holes for their jammer to skate through.

Once the first jammer escapes the pack, she is called the lead jammer and can now score points. She gets a point for legally passing each member of the opposing team as both teams skate around the flat track.

Photo by Marie Bagwel

Photo by Marie Bagwel

Players are not allowed to trip, back block or use elbows to block opposing team members, and the jammer must only pass in-bounds. Any of these infractions will earn a seat in the penalty box.

Despite the rough and tumble nature of the bouts, the women of the 580 rollergirls do not resemble the rink. They are mothers, soldiers, DHS workers, special needs teachers and more.

Lisa Smith, better known by her derby name “Baggins” said her favorite aspect of the derby is the camaraderie.

“It’s a place where I know I can go and be accepted, no matter what. These are my sisters. I love these ladies.”

The 580 Rollergirls recently earned a place in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. With their acceptance into the organization, the 580 Rollergirls can now work on becoming ranked and hope to make it to the playoffs and the championship.

In order to earn the required rankings, Smith says they have to play other official teams.

“Right now we’ve only had one full game as full members,” Smith said,” so we have to have three before we can be ranked.”

The 580 Rollergirls next home bout is at 7 p.m. on April 25 at the Great Plains Coliseum.

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