At least one sport encourages skirts, leggings and knee socks for practice and play, and a new league is recruiting in Killeen.
The Wicked City Derby Damez, Killeen’s first roller derby league, was established this year to make the sport accessible to members in the area and bring a new form of entertainment to the city.
“Killeen doesn’t have any sports teams or things families can do a whole lot,” said Jerra Bullock, secretary and co-founder of the Derby Damez. “Right now we’re sitting at 40 (members). That’s a good number for any league starting.”
Many of the Damez are new to the sport, and Bullock, along with the league’s other two founders, Jamie Hearne and Jenny Morales, are more than willing to teach anyone who is interested in derby.
Morales, the coach for the league, said she could barely stand on skates when she started.
“A former boss had asked me after work if I wanted derby tickets,” she said of her introduction to the sport. “The whole time I kept saying ‘I can do this, I know I can do this.’”
Morales went from not being able to stand to learning crossovers, a movement technique, by her fourth practice.
The image of roller derby being women shoving each other around on skates is a prevailing one from the “old days” of the sport, Bullock said.
“A lot of it was staged, kind of like wrestling,” she said. “Roller derby today is a sport, it’s an actual game.”
Derby bouts can get rough, though. The object is for one team to get their “jammer” skater through a pack of “blockers” in order to become “lead jammer.” The first pass through the blockers does not score points, but the second and any subsequent passes do.
The Derby Damez play by rules of the Modern Athletic Derby Endeavor, which are simpler and provide for faster game play than the rules of the more traditional Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.
Described as “football on skates” by Bullock, the game today does involve real hitting and, occasionally, real injuries.
Johnson said one of her biggest challenges in derby is playing nice.
“You’re only supposed to hit certain ways,” she said. “No elbows.”
Needless to say, traditional roller skating won’t necessarily cut it in a derby bout.
Players must learn new skills, such as skating from a crouch, that may differ from their past experiences on wheels. But women of any size can become formidable in the rink.
“Hitting is my favorite part. Hitting and being hit,” said the 5-foot-tall Morales. “I don’t move (when I’m hit), but I hit them and they’re flying. I had a girl growl at me once.”
Roller derby attracts a variety of women, from stay-at-home moms to lawyers, Bullock said.
The Derby Damez mission statement reads that the league’s goal is to “promote women’s strength and self-esteem and to create a sense of camaraderie and teamwork among our members.”
Additionally, the Damez don’t tolerate drama.
“We’ve made it a zero-tolerance policy,” Bullock said. “Drama queens won’t last at all. People that are survival-type people are here. People who are still going through things, they’re the fighters. They’ll come out on top in roller derby.”
The Derby Damez are a no-dues league, but members are required to be at least 18 years old and provide their own equipment: skates, helmet and elbow and knee pads, which usually total around $100, Bullock said.
The league’s first bout is scheduled against the Hell Rio Rollers, from Del Rio, on March 9.
To learn more about the Derby Damez, call Bullock at (254) 217-6517 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions may be posted on the Wicked City Derby Damez Facebook page, or asked in person by dropping by a practice at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Killeen Community Center on Veterans Memorial Boulevard or at the Special Events Building on W.S. Young (call or check Facebook to verify the day’s practice location).