What is the DRDC?

The Dark River Derby Coalition (DRDC) is the first women’s flat-track roller derby league in Quincy, Illinois. The DRDC is a charitable 501(c)(3) organization with the purpose of empowering women and the community at large through sport. The DRDC is organized and operated with the goal of supporting the public by promoting the rights of women, children, and other vulnerable groups. The DRDC recently completed the WFTDA apprenticeship program and are now full-member status. Becoming full-members  gives the league greater opportunities within the sport and can   lead to the WFTDA championship games.

What are we up to?

The members of the DRDC practice at least twice a week at Scotties Fun Spot, as well as attending additional practices and meetings. The DRDC holds fundraisers to support their organization and volunteers at fundraisers and benefits for community organizations.

Who Funds the DRDC?

Like new roller derby leagues, the DRDC is completely member funded and roller derby is an expensive sport. Each skater and ref is responsible for the cost of skates, pads, uniforms, and travel. In addition, the members pay for practice space, training expenses, and other promotions. The DRDC is actively looking for sponsors for the 2015 season.

How Can I Help?

It takes a lot of work to keep the DRDC rolling. The skaters need help raising funds for uniforms, equipment, WFTDA skater and referee certification — not to mention volunteers and referees!

I think it’s astonishing. My father stopped promoting roller derby in 1957 and I promoted it from 1958 to 1973. Even that’s 37 years ago. So to have the phoenix rising from the ashes now is truly inspiring. In our heyday we had six teams operating across the United States, 7 men and 7 women on a team. That meant there were a total of 84 active skaters. Well, now there are something like 13,000 women participating in 522 leagues in 15 countries. It’s just unbelievable.

– Jerry Seltzer

What is roller derby?

Although invented in the 1930s and popularized in the 1970s as part-sport, part-spectacle, modern roller derby combines the athleticism of full-contact sports with the campy whimsy of the disco era. Many teams opt to skate with elaborate team themes and uniforms, and most skaters invent a derby “alias”, complete with fake names and personas. The Dark River Derby Coalition is no exception; with over 400 all-female roller derby leagues in the world, the Dark River Derby Coalition hopes to add Quincy to the derby map by revitalizing this fun and full-contact sport.

How is roller derby played?

The rules vary by league, but most leagues opt to follow the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) set of rules and regulations.

Roller derby is played on an oval track, with skaters playing both offense and defense at the same time. Two opposing teams play five players each onto the track – one jammer (scorer), three blockers (defense), and one pivot (a blocker who may become a jammer). When the referee blows the first whistle, the blockers and pivots form the pack and begin to make their way around the track while the jammers simultaneously attempt to break through the pack. If you can’t tell who is who, look at their helmets. Helmet covers (often referred to as “panties”) are worn on players’ helmets to display their positions: a cover with two stars is used for jammers, while a striped cover is used for pivots and no cover is worn by blockers.

Each bout consists of two, 30-minute periods, usually broken up by an entertaining half-time show. Each period is made up of 2-minute jams during which each team attempts to score points. Points may only be scored by the jammer who, by skating counter-clockwise, must make her way through the pack as fast as she can and before the opposing jammer to establish lead jammer status (the “lead jammer” is the first jammer to successfully pass through the pack of blockers and pivots). Once lead jammer has been established, both jammers continue to pass through the pack as many times as possible, picking up points for every opposing team member they pass.

The blockers in the pack must do whatever is necessary (but legal!) to keep the opposing jammer at bay while making holes in the pack for their own jammer. This includes (but is not always limited to…that’s why derby has referees and a penalty box!) blocking, hitting, checking, pushing, and whipping.

The jam ends when the lead jammer says so or you hit 2 minutes. You’ll know it’s over when she places her hands on her hips.

FAQs about roller derby

Q: Who are the skaters on your team?

A: Our skaters are made up of a wide variety of women. They are students, teachers, psychologists, artists, nurses, mothers, and other professionals.

Q: Is roller derby staged?

A: Absolutely not! It is a real sport. The hits, injuries, plays, and penalties are all real.

Q: Are your skaters paid?

A: No! All of our skaters, refs, and other volunteers are completely unpaid. They are responsible for the cost of practice, gear, travel to bouts, etc. They do it for the love of the sport.

Q: Is roller derby violent?

A: Roller derby is a full contact sport, just like football, just with more rules. The teams are dedicated to good sportsmanship and many of the skaters are friends off the track. It is a family friendly sport.