Roller derby team brings sport, not drama, to the rink

It's not WWE.

There's no tackling or throwing punches.

The DuPage Derby Dames say what they do — the skating in and out of traffic, hip checks, the spills — well, it's real.

The Dames begin their inaugural roller derby season Saturday, Feb. 18, at Coachlite Skate Center, 1291 Bryn Mawr Ave., in Roselle.

Despite crazy hair colors and tattoos, exaggerated makeup and tough nicknames, players say the expectation of fake drama just doesn't match reality.

“I think that's their (the audience's) expectation — they come to derby expecting chicks to fight and punch each other in the face and roll around on the floor like in the '60s and '70s,” said Sarah Billingsley, 25, of Aurora, known as “Pink POW-HER Ranger.”

“That's not what they get. What they get is a lot more organized structure to the game. It's real. We're not purposely punching and kicking people. There's the possibility of people getting hurt, but it's all real. It's not fake WWE wrestling drama.”

First formed in 2010, the team has spent months preparing for this season, which includes one bout each month through November.

Starting a new league, believed to be the first organized suburban roller derby program, is a process with growing pains like any other, said league co-founder Megan Rosenberg of Naperville. You also can call her “Millie Brawl” named after “My Boy Lollipop” singer Millie Small.

In February 2011, the women split and took a brief hiatus to regroup.

Like in practice when the girls learn to fall safely and get right back up, that's what the team did. It relocated to Coachlite in Roselle and has grown to nearly 40 members.

After months of practice, two road tournaments in the fall and an exhibition bout last month, the Dames begin this first official bout with a Mardi Gras-themed matchup Saturday against the Wisconsin River Valley Roller Girls.

They'll take to the flat rink with helmets, knee and elbow pads, and five skaters per team. Points are scored when the jammer for each team breaks past the pack, laps it and then passes it again.

The women meet for practice twice a week. Last year, they focused on basic skills.

In preparation for the season, they've shifted that focus to strategy, Rosenberg said.

These women are real, players say, and that includes all different physical shapes and sizes and levels of athleticism.

“We have girls with all experience levels. Not many people come in already as an athlete,” Rosenberg said. “It's open to all skills types, all body types, all experience levels. Anyone can come in and play and everyone can learn how to play.”

Unlike traditional intramural sports that many adults play, derby girls say their sport is edgier and more intense until the very last minute.

“It's more of a stand-on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of moment,” Billingsley said. “It keeps fans on their toes and wanting more. They don't leave at half-time because they know who is going to win. Derby can change in two minutes. It literally builds until the last two-minute jam where anything can happen.”

Don't let the fishnet stockings and face paints fool you, it's a very family friendly event, said Angela Horrell, 33, a mom of two from South Elgin known as “Bully the Kid.”

“We're wives and mothers and friends. We work hard to provide for our family and we work very hard on the track to give everyone a good time when they come and see us,” Horrell said.

Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. Children ages 8 and under are free. Buy tickets in advance at;It's not staged. It definitely is a full-on contact sport within guidelines, and it's fun to watch and it's fun to be a part of. It's very empowering to women,#8221; Horrell said.

For information, visit

Roller Derby coming to the suburbs

DuPage roller derby group wants to expand

Roller Derby is clearly a contact sport, but these days it’s real action free from the staged drama and fighting of the 1960s and ’70s. Courtesy of the DuPage Derby Dames
Fishnet stockings and theatrical makeup aside, roller derby girls say their sport if family friendly — and many are moms themselves. Courtesy of the DuPage Derby Dames

If you go

What: DuPage Derby Dames vs. Wisconsin River Valley Roller Girls

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18

Where: Coachlite Skate Center, 1291 Bryn Mawr Ave., Roselle

Cost: $10 in advance, $12 at door; 8 and younger free


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