Assistant News Editor
This Saturday, a friend and I watched the season opening bout of the Dallas Derby Devils Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby League.
For all “derby virgins” reading this (the jargon used in the bouts is so endearing), I will first give you a breakdown of the basic rules. Derby is performed on an oval, wooden indoor track comprised of three rings: The innermost ring houses the referees, those guys we love to hate in derby, followed by the main skating ring just outside that, and the outermost “penalty ring.” There are five skaters for each team, with four Blockers and a Jammer on the track. (The Jammers are easily recognizable: They wear a helmet cover with a large star on either side.) The Jammer who comes out in front of the opposing team’s Blockers first is the Lead Jammer of that round. The Lead Jammer has control of the round; she can end it at any time.
The object of the Jammers is to pass the opposing team’s Blockers, gaining a point for each time that they succeed. The Blockers help their Jammer out by giving her a clear path to skate through. The team with the most accrued points at the end of the bout is the winner.
Awesome as the sport was, the night was not without its glitches. When we arrived 20 minutes before the bout, we walked in behind the large will-call line, only to be misdirected a few times, ensuring that we entered the track right as the bout was beginning. It was standing room only at this point, too, but our position in front of one of the locked gates was actually perfect; we were close enough to the action, but (not usually) in anyone else’s way.
Overall, the derby is a “catchy” sport that I will definitely go watch again. It was easy to fall in love with the teams quickly, and to develop a liking for certain players right away. The announcers did a great job of getting people involved, too. The most surprising thing about the derby was how family-oriented it was; in fact, many of the skaters were mothers, and their children donned apparel supporting their talented, non-paid, semi-professional mothers.
This was the season opener, and these ladies will be going strong until their championship. The bouts are scheduled for May 26, June 23, July 14, Aug. 11 and Sept. 8 (the championship), with all games held at the Nytex Sports Centre in North Richland Hills. I highly recommend derby to those of you in the area.
For more info on the DDD, their season, tickets, or rules and background information about derby as a whole, visit www.derbydevils.com.