New England Roller Derby: Catch the Wild Action!

Roller Derby in Vermont

Kim Knox Beckius 

Where can you see fast women in fierce make-up knocking each other down hard while raising funds for community organizations? At a New England roller derby game! Twelve New England roller derby leagues play by Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) rules at venues regionwide, so wherever you travel, you might catch a bout featuring skaters with names like Unita Hearse and Rough Ann Tumble.

On a fall 2010 trip to Burlington, Vermont, we watched the Black Ice Brawlers take on the Petticoat Punishers from Massachusetts. I never did quite figure out how roller derby scoring works, but I did learn this: These women are tough. Enjoy these action photos from my first live roller derby experience.

Visit league Web sites for game schedules, charities supported and more:

New England Roller Derby Leagues

Women's roller derby is enjoying a resurgence in New England. Roller derby games are fun, fast-paced and family-friendly and often raise funds for local groups.

The Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction, Vermont (near Burlington), is home track for Vermont's first roller derby league, the Green Mountain Derby Dames. We saw the Black Ice Brawlers (in green)--one of two Vermont teams--play an October 2010 game.

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What's Legal?

Roller Derby Picture - Green Mountain Derby Dames at Champlain Valley Expo
© 2010 Kim Knox Beckius

The program for the bout we witnessed explained that in roller derby, it's fine to whip or push teammates and to hit from the side with shoulders, torso or hips. It's not cool to block with elbows, hands or head; to trip or punch; or to throw chairs!

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Sexy and Strong

Roller Derby Girls Sexy and Strong - Photo Roller Derby in New England
© 2010 Kim Knox Beckius

While roller derby definitely has a vampy edge, it's all in good fun, and spectators can't help admiring the athleticism of these women as they whiz around the track. Blockers try their darndest to keep the jammer from racking up points.

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Night of the Living Dames

Vermont Roller Derby Picture - Scary Roller Derby Skaters
© 2010 Kim Knox Beckius

Think these skaters look particularly scary? That's because the theme for October's roller derby bout was: Night of the Living Dames. Admission proceeds benefited Save Our Strays VT. The Green Mountain Derby Dames' mission includes helping the community.

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Roller Derby Fall Photo - Two Women Roller Derby Players
© 2010 Kim Knox Beckius

Roller derby is a full contact sport, and falling on the hard track has to hurt. We witnessed some pretty brutal falls and collisions during the first of two 30-minute halves. I'll bet playing roller derby makes these women appreciate their day jobs.

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