Roller derby has its beginnings in co-ed skating endurance competition from the 1930s when pairs spent 12-hour shifts to see which couple would complete an impressive 3,000 laps first. While the stamina was a remarkable feat, it became evident spectators were drawn to the event to witness the skaters smash into one another.
This prompted the evolution of the sport to one of teams making full contact on the track. Sadly, the popular game fell victim to smarmy management, outrageous production antics and an economic recession. Much like disco, roller derby faded away at the end of the 1970s.
Roller derby made a comeback in its modern flat-track form in 2003 thanks to the Texas Rollergirls, who wanted to bring to life a sport allowing participants to be both aggressive and gorgeous. They realized the sport had the ability to inspire other women, provide young girls with powerful role models and thrill audiences with a blend of hard-hitting action and kitschy fun.
In the last seven years, women’s flat track derby has exploded in popularity with more than 600 leagues and more than 19,000 wheel-wearing athletes worldwide. Flat track derby leagues are independently owned, controlled and run by the all-volunteer skaters and support personnel.
The athletic skill of today’s roller girls is turning as many heads as the campy antics that characterized the beginning of the roller derby revival. It even has its own governing organization – the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.
The future is clear – first the Olympics, then world domination!