Highland resident Katie Wagila is helping revive a sport begun more than 80 years ago as a member of the roller derby team Illiana Derby Dames.
Wagila, known as “Electro-cute” on the track, represents one-fifth of the board of directors on her 29-woman team.
“Roller derby originated in the 1930’s from what was banked track marathon skating. It became more about theatrics in the 1940’s and the dramatics overshadowed the athleticism,” Wagila, 28, explained.
“With the sport rapidly gaining popularity since a revival in the early 2000’s, there are currently over 1,200 teams and that includes international leagues. The sport is even being considered for the 2020 Olympics,” Wagila said.
Illiana Derby Dames was formed in August, 2012 and participates in hour-long bouts at Lynwood Roller Rink in Lynwood, Ill. Wagila serves as a jammer, an offense position.
“The jammer’s primary job is to score points for their own team by lapping players on the opposing team, while hindering the other team's chance to do so as well,” she explained.
“The blocker’s job is to maintain heavy defense and communicate in order to stop the opposing jammer from getting through the pack.”
Wagila’s team skated its first bout in June, and after a team assessment in July, will resume play in August.
“We are in our very beginning phases and are still learning, but there are leagues popping up all over the place. We are trying to make contact with start-up leagues in order to be on the same level of play.”
“The athleticism definitely attracted me to roller derby. I was always an athlete and the adrenaline I felt just by simply watching the sport really compelled me to want to try it myself,” she said.
“More importantly, the charity aspect is very near and dear to my heart. In the short time we have been around we have volunteered our time at cancer benefits, NWI Food Bank, and our first charity was Girls on the Run.”
A 2002 graduate of Hammond Gavit High School, Wagila is currently studying hospitality and tourism at Purdue University Calumet. She is employed as an on-premise sales consultant for Southern Wine and Spirits of Indiana, based in Indianapolis.
More information on Wagila and the Illiana Derby Dames can be found at illianaderbydames.com or facebook.com/illianaderbydames.