Waco’s newest roller-skating team slingshots into competition

Waco Roller Derby is a growing competitive roller derby club that has been meeting every Monday and Tuesday to practice maneuvers in preparation for their upcoming season. Audrey La | Photographer

By Gierra Cottingham | Reporter

Competitive roller skating, known as roller derby, was invented in the 1930s during the Great Depression and has recently made a return to the Waco community. The sport consists of two teams skating aggressively to score points while defending their teammates from the opponents. No matter one’s skating skill level or athleticism, Waco Roller Derby stands to encourage Waco’s community to test their potential as roller derby team players.

“I have been involved with roller derby for over 12 years now and it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Many will say it saved their soul,” former roller derby competitor and co-founder of Waco Roller Derby Brooke Hill said. “It is the best therapy that you can pay for. Roller derby is a very empowering sport and our community is beautiful.”

Waco Roller Derby was founded by four companions in the roller derby realm. Professionally experienced and devoted to the game, they invested their time to begin a team last October. The opportunity for any potential skater, who before would’ve had to commute elsewhere, is welcomed by Waco Roller Derby, since there is no other team in the Central Texas area.

“It’s built a great community. I’ve met many people I wouldn’t have encountered on campus while staying active,” Bothwell, Wash., senior Caroline Anderson said. “Regardless of the type of day I’m having, I know at roller derby I can put my worries behind and go home feeling integrated and excited.”

Aside from the competitiveness and endurance involved at Waco Roller Derby, the sport itself has a positive mental and physical impact on team participants.

On Monday, there were approximately 20 practice attendees at Waco Roller Derby and their exhilaration could be seen. An off-skates warmup was performed and their focus steered toward skill tactics.

The organization is open to anyone above the age of 14, and hopes to gain enough established skaters by the start of January.

Joining Waco Roller Derby will prepare anyone who shows interest in elevating their skills by providing derby practices, additional skate sessions, speed endurance drills and basic skate technique classes, which are all included as a roller derby member.

“By spring, we’ll hopefully be able to draft home teams and begin games here in Waco that will be executed over the course of the derby season from spring to fall. Our top players from each team will be a part of our travel team, The Waco Wildflowers, which will compete against teams across the U.S.,” Hill said.

Safety is the most important thing as a Waco Roller Derby team player. Coaches have utilized recent practice time to walk skaters through the basics. Since most of the roller derby members are new to the sport, the first step is teaching everyone how to safely skate.

“I hadn’t skated in 24 years and now I’ve diligently skated for the past 3 weeks,” Waco Roller Derby member Patricia Rogers said. “We’ve learned a lot of skating basics such as being able to skate forward and backward while maintaining clean transitions.”

Waco Roller Derby’s staff encourages people to drop by Skate Waco in Bellmead during their practices on Mondays and Tuesdays from 6-8 p.m. Simply checking out the fundamentals of roller derby in person or inquiring about the organization’s protocols is welcomed.

“Roller derby is a fantastic community. It is a place where people of all ages and genders come together and support each other in a very positive and uplifting environment,” Hill said. “You’re learning a sport and how to become a team player, which will benefit anyone in all professional and personal aspects of life. Many of our girls will notice changes to their body strength while finding themselves making healthier decisions.”

Gierra Cottingham
Gierra Cottingham is a senior journalism major at Baylor University with an added concentration in Business. Born and raised in Houston, TX, she hopes to one day become a broadcast reporter and anchor in an alike major city. Her hobbies include painting, going to the beach and baking. She is also the last of her 3 siblings to graduate.