A great way to start the new year is with the Windy City Rollers. The WCR has a home bout tonight at the UIC Pavillion.
I have followed the WCR for the last several years. I was originally just looking for something new to experience. I had no idea that I would enjoy it so much and still be attending WCR events.
The first thing I learned (and everyone needs to know) is that this version of roller derby is a legitimate sport. It is a fast-paced race around the track by athletic women, featuring strategy, blocking, jamming and most of all, actually scoring. The rules are announced to start the night.
I watched the action and found myself cheering. I had never seen any of the four teams prior to that night, yet I found myself picking favorites and cheering. It was a bit surreal, but I was hooked.
Thanks to the hospitality of the WCR, I had the opportunity to interview several of the skaters later that night. All of my interviews can be found on the Johngy's Beat The Windy City Rollers YouTube playlist.
In my many chats (on and off video) with the lady athletes, I learned how passionate they are about their sport. These women all hold regular jobs, but make time to practice several times a week for most of the year. I saw the love in their eyes and felt the deep commitment in their voices. It was great to experience. I was so happy for these young ladies doing what they loved and being cheered by thousands.
One thing that does remain from the "theatrical" roller derby from yesteryear is the creativity in the player names. One of my first favorite names was Sara Problem (pictured below). In down time at events, I often find myself trying to think of roller derby names for myself. Beltin' John? Johngy Crash?
One last thing I need to mention is the fan-friendliness of all of the skaters. After a couple hours of hard skating action, they always come to the concourse and pose with fans. It is pretty awesome seeing the young kids having a blast with the skaters. (Okay, I also enjoy taking a few pictures with them!).
If you can't make it tonight, they will next be in action on February 17, along with more bouts after that. You can get all the scheduling, updates and news by following the Windy City Rollers on Facebook. Each of the four teams also has a separate FB page you can follow. You can also follow the Windy City Rollers on twitter.
Sara Problem, Nasty Al and me in Chicago, IL-February 2017.