James Tunnell, Staff Writer
Let’s just throw it out there and say that women’s roller derby is is awesome. If you’ve never been to a match and you’ve been dying to go, you’re in luck, because Oklahoma City has our very own WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association) organization called The Victory Dolls. The Victory Dolls are made up of two squads; The Oklahoma Victory Dolls All Stars and The Oklahoma Victory Dolls Battle Squad, with the All Stars functioning sort of as a senior club. But don’t think that either of these squads are anything less than fierce.
The rules of Roller Derby are relatively simple, and before each match both teams go through a simulated bout while an announcer explains the basics. It might seem like a jumbled mess of third grade teachers on roller-skates at first, but the longer you watch, the strategy and nuance of the game becomes increasingly more clear. Bouts are broken up into 2 minute plays known as “jams.” Teams consist of five players on the track at a time while each team has one jammer, one pivot, and three blockers.
The game begins with each team’s jammers 30 feet behind what is known as the “pack,” (the blockers and the pivots). At the whistle, all players begin skating, with the jammers sprinting forward. The goal of the jammer is to get through the pack, while the blockers and pivots try to simultaneously stop the other team’s jammer from getting ahead of the pack, while also making a clear path for their own jammer to skate through. Once a jammer passes through the pack, that jammer is known as the lead jammer and can begin scoring points once the second lap has begun.
One point is scored for each player on the opposing team that the jammer passes. The lead jammer has the ability to end the jam by placing her hands on her hips, making a gesture similar to that of a basketball referee signalling a blocking foul. The ability to end a jam at any time is kind of a risk/reward system. By ending a jam, you control the ability of the other team to score points, but by continuing on, you yourself have the opportunity to rack up more points.
Although Roller Derby bouts probably aren’t as violent as you might imagine, there are still multiple cringe-worthy collisions in within each bout. That being said, WFTDA matches are marketed as family friendly events, and the atmosphere they manage to create before and during matches is both electric and silly. While the athletes and referees are most definitely serious about their sport, they also approach it with an air of humor. All of the players skate under pseudonyms like Mount Crushmore, Duchess Nukem and Dita Von Casualties, while referees have names like Dougie Fresh and Spider Pirate. However, these girls aren’t just the Queens of Crush.
The Oklahoma Victory Dolls pride themselves in their work around the community, frequently working hand in hand with local charities and volunteering their time in support of community development and. Oh, and they’re also not half bad at Roller Derby. In their opening match of the season the All Stars defeated the Dallas Derby Devils Army of Darkness 270-91.
The Victory Dolls play their matches at the Centennial Building at the Oklahoma Fairgrounds, so if you would like to support them, either come out for their next match or visit their website oklahomavictorydolls.com/okvd.