The Secret Life of: Roller Derby

Shae Bowman/Sun Star Reporter
Nov. 5, 2013

English graduate student Quinn Dreasler plays in the Roller Derby scrimmage on Oct. 21. Dreasler is a part of the Raven Rebels team. Shae Bowman/ Sun Star

English graduate student Quinn Dreasler plays in the Roller Derby scrimmage on Oct. 21. Dreasler is a part of the Raven Rebels team. Shae Bowman/Sun Star

With names like “Ginga RAWRgers” and the “Gazelle from Hell,” people are curious about what roller derby girls are.

Quinn Dreasler goes by the name “Animal” when she plays roller derby. Dreasler has been on the Raven Rebels team for two months. Prior to the Fairbanks team, Dreasler was on a team in Iowa for five years.

Dreasler moved from Iowa to Fairbanks to pursue a Masters degree in English at UAF. Since her move, Dreasler said she appreciated the sense of community that roller derby provides. When she moved to Fairbanks, within the first week of joining roller derby, “I felt like she already had forty new friends.” said Dreasler.

“The community is a very broad accepting community and it’s a great way to meet new people,” Dreasler said.

Dreasler was inspired to join Roller derby when she saw a video on YouTube. “I thought to myself, what is this sport? It looks magical!”  

According to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association website, Roller Derby began in the 1920s and it was used to describe roller skate races. In the late 1930s the sport evolved to be less about racing and more of a physical contact sport emphasizing skater collisions which has developed into the sport that Roller Derby is today. The sport then began to be televised in the 1940s. In the 1960s theatrics became more of the show then the actual sport causing the sport to become less popular. In the 1973 the Roller Derby organization was shut down. There were several attempts to revive roller derby as a sport throughout 80s and 90s however it did not really take off until the 2000s.

Roller Derby is played with two opposing teams on a track. Each team has a set of blockers and one jammer. The jammers are the point scoring players. A jammer scores a point for every opposing player that is passed after the she makes one lap around the track. The blockers purpose is to help their jammer get around the track while preventing the opposing team’s jammer from passing players.

Most of the time Dreasler plays as a defensive player, called a blocker. She also serves as a referee liaison to help her team communicate with the referees. Roller derby is a fairly complex game with a 44-page rule book, therefore, good communication between players and referees is very important. “The rules are great because they make it possible for everyone to play,” Dreasler stated,“It is a sport for everyday people with everyday lives.”

Dreasler also participates on the Fairbanks league all-star team. The all-star teams are composed of the best of the best players from every league, and they travel to compete with other all-star teams from the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.

Roller Derby is a great sport for women to participate in because, “It’s a sport created by women for women,” Dreasler said. “The sport is a very feminist sports movement.”

There is a men’s league, however the men’s league depends on the women’s league for rules and guidance. “Without the women’s association the men’s association wouldn’t exist,”Dreasler said.

The Fairbanks Roller Derby league consists of two house teams, the Raven Rebels and the Gold Diggers. The league is a non-profit organization, and the money collected at the games is used to support the teams. The league also gives a lot of the money it earns at games to charity. Last month was the the Breast Cancer Awareness bout, and the league raised over $2,000 to donate.

The next roller derby bout is Nov. 8 at the Carlson Center. Doors open at 6 p.m.

A booth will be set up at the bout for anyone interested to sign up for tryouts.

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