A Saturday in late Midwest Winter – what to do? Rent a movie? Go out to dinner with friends? Or drive to Madison with 20 friends to eat mexican food, dress up in ridiculous costumes, drink, and head to the ‘Mad Rollin’ Dolls Flat Track Roller Derby Bout to cheer on the ‘Unholy Rollers’? Huh?
Perhaps this is all a bit strange; Let us begin at page 3 of the Mad Rollin’ Dolls official souvenir -complete-with-autograph-page program:
“LISTEN UP: Derby can be dangerous. Please pay attention to the following and keep yourself and your loved ones safe while you enjoy the bout! TRACKSIDE SEATING AT YOUR OWN RISK – MIND YOUR CHILDREN – LOOK OUT FOR SKATERS – DESIGNATE A DRIVER.”
…..now those statements really tell both in plain english and rather more subtle ways what ‘the derby’ is all about, but just in case, here’s the actual mission statement – or something like it:
“Mad Rollin’ Dolls is a flat-track derby league based in Madison, WI, run by the skaters, staff, & volunteers. Flat-track derby is a hard-core sport played by independent, strong, modern women. Mad Rollin’ Dolls provides an outlet for female aggresion and self-expression. We encourage and organize women to participate in service to the community; we get fit, have fun, and throw killer parties.”
(above: Vaudeville Vixins vs. Holy Rollers, 3/7/09 Madison, WI)
(photo of Tammy Faye Undertaker by svheartphotography.com)
It would be enough fun to take in this sport as a harmless bystander, but in fact, Decorah native ‘Tammy Faye Undertaker’ (#700) skates as a blocker with the Unholy Rollers team. This Iowan gone Wisco-kid is not to be reckoned with while on 4 wheels. “TFU” as she is known to her fans, has only been skating for a couple years and had never skated to any extent until her interest in the Mad Rollin Dolls was peaked. Now her family, friends, and fans cheer her and the ‘Unholy Rollers’ on with rabid enthusiasm.
Roller Derby itself is a slightly complicated sport to follow. The basics are such:
“Roller derby takes place on a circuit track. It is somewhat unusual among competitive sports in that offense and defense are played simultaneously. The two teams playing send five players each onto the track — three blockers (defense), one pivot (last line of defense) and one jammer (scorer).” To understand how points are scored by the various positions, follow up with this comprehensive Wikipedia article.
But the real deal with modern day Roller Derby is not the competitive sport itself; the heart & soul Derby resides in an almost rugby-like family association between the competitors and teams. Most matches are held in the Alliant Center Exhibition Hall in Madison with local vendors offering micro-brews, fruit smoothies, gourmet coffee, and pizza slices. All bouts not only raise funds for powerful causes, but are finished with fantastic parties in local bars with teams and fans mixing, drinking, re-hashing the highlights – the injuries, and the bouts to come. Roller Derby is not the television sport it once was – it is a female driven community that promotes fun, competition, and activity – it’s a way of life!
Find out more about Madison’s ‘Mad Rollin Dolls upcoming bouts by visiting www.madrollindolls.com
Upcoming bouts are on March 21, April 5 & 25, and May 16. See you there!