Roller Derby

Illiana Derby Dames keep it real in roller derby

2014-04-18T18:00:00Z 2014-04-24T22:41:15Z Illiana Derby Dames keep it real in roller derbyJohn Burbridge, (219) 933-3371

LYNWOOD | When Illiana Derby Dames coach Samantha Judge wrapped Bre Christensen's arms close to her body with electrical tape, it wasn't to treat an injury.

Rather, it was to prevent one ... mainly to Christensen's roller derby teammates.

"We have a bout coming up this weekend," Christensen said of the Dames' season- and home-opener April 13 against the Southland Slashers.

"So we don't want to hurt each other beforehand. That's why she taped my arms. I have a habit of throwing elbows."

The Derby Dames' home events are held at the Lynwood Roller Rink, where they will return June 8 to play host to the Barbed Wire Betties after battling River Demon Rollers Girls on the road May 10.

This is the Dames' second season.

"I feel like a proud mom seeing how much these girls have grown," said Candice "Mad Chatter" Ford, who is the Dames' co-coach with Judge.

The Dames were winless in their inaugural season.

"But now we're skating with much more confidence ... we're making smarter decisions," Ford said, "and our hitting has gotten much harder. (Christensen) is our hardest hitter."

While watching and listening to Ford and Judge instruct the team on blocking and hip-checking techniques, scoring strategy and the importance of hustling on and off the rink in regards to substitution and penalty-box penance; it seemed only a matter of time before they would finally go over the upcoming bout's "script".

Like when's the cue for Dawn "Rolling Thunder" McDonald to distract the ref so Jessica "Ludapriss" Mabs can clothesline the opposing team's designated scoring skater? Or when do Jenn "Crochet Guevara" Wardell and Amanda "Farles in Charge" Farley pull a trip wire across the track to topple a four-skater blocking pack?

After all, this is roller derby which -- going by its 1970s and 1980s heyday standards -- is essentially pro wrestling on wheels.

"Today, roller derby is far more a 'sport' than just entertainment," said Wardell, who is the Dames' president. "We skate on a flat track. There are no railings involved. There are rules to skate by, and actual score is kept."

"Oh, it's real," said Crown Point resident Farley, the Dames' vice-president. "And the pain is real. Especially when you fall hard on your tailbone."

Like many of the Dames, Wardell and Farley are relatively new to the sport.

"I just wanted to get into something high adrenaline," Farley said.

Wardell said the Dames and their foes usually draw ample crowds for their bouts.

"But other than for operating costs, what we draw at the gate goes to local charities," she said.

Proceeds from the season-opener against the Slashers went to All Breeds Rescue Angels, a foster-based rescue animal organization.

In it's flat-track, keep-it-real format, roller derby is making a comeback, even on a global scale.

"This is way more athletic than most sports," Mabs said. "It can be brutal ... ruthless. It's a legitimate full-contact sport. It's even being considered for the Olympics."

Such a claim beckons verification, but indeed roller derby is among the eight sports being considered for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

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