Roller derby!! The exciting sport played by women, zipping around a track on roller skates, with the designated jammer trying to lap members of the opposing team while hindering that team’s jammer. This contact sport has thrills, chills, and spills, and we are here watch the San Diego Roller Derby Starlettes compete with the Tucson Roller Derby!
There are many rules to the sport, which you can read online, so we won’t explain them here. Instead, we will share with you all the photographs we are taking. 😆
The Starlettes take to the field. Although there are many members of the team, only five play at any one time.
Tucson Roller Derby looks determined. This should be a fun game!
Blocking and Jamming
Play begins by blockers lining up on the track anywhere between the “jammer line” and the “pivot line” 30 feet in front. The pack is the largest single group of blockers containing members of both teams skating in proximity, arranged such that each player is within 10 feet of the next. Blockers must maintain the pack, but can skate freely within 20 feet behind and ahead of it, an area known as the “engagement zone”.
The players are captured in a moment, but are actually skating fast. And, no, the pi girl is not flipping someone off.
In this photograph, you get a better idea of the speed of the players. Roller Derby is a fast-moving (literally) game.
In roller derby, blocking with hands, elbows, head, and feet (which would be called “tripping”) is prohibited, so most blocking is full-body, “I’m in front of you” blocking.
Two potential blockers move attempt to quickly move into place to block a Starlette.
Blockers must be aware of the players behind time to prevent the other team from breaking away and skating around them.
We have included a short slide show of blocking and jamming, for your enjoyment.
There is no roller derby move called “breaking away”; however, when watching the pack of skaters roll around the track, it is common to see one or two people suddenly make a run for it.
You might notice the seemingly odd ways that bodies align when skating. The skate of the girl on the left is firmly on the ground, while her whole body is displaced to her left. Yet, because of the momentum and the fact that her right foot will soon step over her left foot, she remains perfectly balanced.
Because blocking with hands, elbows, head, and feet is prohibited, a quick, supple skater can get around a pack that is not tightly packed.
There is one jammer per team, and she is identified by the star on her helmet. The jammer scores points by lapping members of the opposing team, as this Starlette is attempting to do.
Players eye each other with determination. If the jammer cannot be blocked, her team might quickly score a point.
When the jammer gets in front of the pack, she skates fast to try to lap the pack, while her teammates strive to retard the pack’s speed.
Take a moment to view these other skaters doing their best to break away from the pack.
Falling: moving from a higher to a lower level, typically rapidly and without control. When you are racing around the track on shoes with wheels, you can expect to occasionally spend some time on the ground.
One down, and another on the way. Just another day in the life of a skater.
When the designated jammer (she has the stars on her helmet) falls, it’s good news for the other team. GET UP!!
Will all the bodies and arms and legs in motions, it’s a wonder there aren’t more collisions.
Sometimes the skaters have hard falls but, unless they damage something, the game continues. But, yeah, that looks painful.
You can see that the jammer (with the star on her helmet) seems to be a target. Well, roller derby is a contact sport, right?
Of course we have a slide show of falling skaters. 😆
According to Morpheus, some rules can be bent, others can be broken. To help interpret these rules, there are referees. Bunches of them.
Up to four referees skate on the inside of the track. In flat-track derby, up to three additional referees skate on the outside of the track. They call penalties, award points, and ensure safe game play. The head referee is responsible for the general supervision of the bout and has final authority on all rulings. Pack referees are responsible for watching the skaters in the pack, pack definition and calling penalties. Jammer referees watch the jammers of a specific team and wear a wristband (and optionally a helmet cover) in that team’s color to identify which team they are watching.
The referees skate as fast and as long as the players do, with the added danger of a whistle in their mouth. As a safety precaution, a string is attached to the whistle so it can be retrieved in case of ingestion.
With all the action, we tend to not notice all the referees. But they are there, as much a part of the game as the players.
In this slide show, you’ll see a lot of action, but take a moment to notice the hard-working referees in the background.
You may have noticed that the intensity of the sport is often reflected in the skater’s facial expressions.
We should point out that all these skaters wear mouth guards, so the black or white blob or funny-looking tooth in a girl’s mouth is supposed to be there. 😮
Okay, that’s just not a good idea.
Oh, no. You’re not getting through. Not on my watch.
Expressions are expressive. See if you can figure out what they mean on these skaters.
It’s Just a Game
And when the match is over, the players hug and smile and display true sportswoman behavior to their former adversaries. Because, whether we win or lose, we are all here to have fun.
If what you’ve just seen looks like fun, roller derby teams are always looking for players, referees, and volunteers. Or just attend a match and cheer for the athletes. Take your favorite guy and make it a date. We think you’ll have a lot of fun. We did! 😛