“I’ve heard [roller derby] described recently as playing chess while having bricks thrown at you,” says Ella Fistgerald. “I think it’s pretty accurate. It is both strategy and mental toughness at once… [all while] being on eight wheels.”
Fistgerald is a blocker and track lead on the All Stars team of the DC Rollergirls, which kicked off its 12th season of competitive roller derby at the DC Armory last Saturday. Founded in 2006, the Rollergirls are part of a 21st Century renaissance of roller derby, a contact sport that sees two competing teams trying to score points by outlapping their opponents.
During their first outing of the season, the Rollergirls’ DC All Stars took on the Charlottesville Derby Dames in an action packed double-header that, while not a win, saw them increase their league ranking. In the second game, Rollergirls’ National Maulers B-team bested Charlottesville’s Belmont Bruisers.
The Rollergirls’ next big game is Saturday, April 7th, featuring two legacy home teams, the Cherry Blossom Bombshells and Majority Whips, facing off against one another.
In addition to being a member of the All Stars team, Fistgerald trains those seeking to join the Rollergirls’ ranks. As part of efforts to recruit new players to the sport, the Rollergirls are hosting an open house event on Monday, March 5, to introduce potential newcomers to the team. Visitors will learn what it takes to be a derby player, as well as get the opportunity to watch a scrimmage. For those eager to participate — but unable to stand upright on skates — the Rollergirls are also looking for volunteers to help organize games.
“There’s this saying in the community that ‘roller derby saved my soul’…and it’s whatever somebody is looking for, roller derby can fill that void,” Fistgerald says, noting roller derby is the perfect sport for somebody wanting to try something new. “It’s the workout part, it’s the social part, it’s the business part. Everything somebody is looking for in derby is there.” —Bailey Vogt
The DC Rollergirls open house will take place on Monday, March 5, at 5706 Lafayette Place in Hyattsville, MD. Visit dcrollergirls.com.
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