Since 2009, the Chippewa Valley Roller Girls have been rolling into the hearts of local fans.
Eau Claire, WI (WEAU) - You've heard of sports like --- baseball, basketball and badminton. But there's one sport that’s hit the ground rolling in Eau Claire you may not know.
The term roller derby dates back to the 1920's and nearly a century later, this contact sport is pushing its way up in popularity across the Chippewa Valley.
"My derby name is ‘Stunt Double’… ‘Medium Rare,’ aka ‘Pinky…’Tax Breaker,’ born on tax day…My name is ‘Toxic Hell’…’Candie,’ which is short for 'Rotten Cotton Candy'…My nickname is ‘Cut Throat Kitty,’ are just a few of the unique nicknames for this team’s roster.
It’s not a sport for the faint of heart or the easily bruised.
"The history of roller derby kind of started back up in the 80's, grassroots down in Texas kind of revitalized the whole sport,” explains Kimm Schroeder, AKA ‘Stunt Double.’
For the Chippewa Valley Roller Girls, it’s for women with a passion to skate and to hit. But who are they when they walk out of the rink?
"I'm a graphic designer for Plank Enterprises,” explains Stunt Double.
"I'm a software trainer. So I'm a nerd basically by trade,” says Danielle Ryan AKA Tax Breaker.
"I do currently work at Best Buy in the Geek squad,” says Crystal Skramstad, AKA Medium Rare (Pinky.)
"I have a 9-year-old and a 2-year-old,” says April Hoyt Gunderzik AKA Toxic Hell.
Then these 21 to 42 year old take these 8 wheels to the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center where a new world is taped down and roller derby is bliss.
"Once you're on your skates and you're on the track. Everything else doesn't matter,” says Toxic Hell.
"We started in 2009 with just a handful of girls and we weren't even sure we were going to be able to put on our first event. We bucked up and said yea were just going to do it. We filled the house,” says Stunt Double.
"We practice twice a week and we usually try to have one home game each month,” says Cut Throat Kitty.
"There are really two primary positions. The Blockers and the Jammers,” explains Tax Breaker.
"As a Jammer you know you've got that star on your helmet which is basically a target,” says Medium Rare.
If that’s not your thing, you could be a referee.
"You have to be 21 to skate competitively with the league. I'm just a referee this year until I turn 21 in May,” says Paige Hutchings, AKA Candie.
These refs watch where the girls skate where their elbows are and punish them if things get ugle.
" If they come in from out of bound in front of someone that is front of them previously …that's cutting so that's a penalty. You have to keep your elbows in at all times. You go to the box and generally you have to sit there for one minute,” says Candie.
Each round or jam can last up to two minutes. Once it’s over, the teams hit the lines to do it all over again. Sometimes if you're lucky you'll get a temporary tattoo as a trophy.
"My first season I sprained my ankle,” says Toxic Hell.
"I've had a multitude of bruises. I've broken both wrists. Nothing too major, just little fractures,” explains
Of course you can't forget about the fashion.
“The outfits, that’s my favorite part about Roller Derby. The tights, the different shorts you can wear and the cool socks,” says April while grinning.
“I think people enjoy the fact that you can have a uniform that isn't as strict as other sports and you can really get into accessorizing if that's your thing,” explains Tax Breaker.
A young fan in the crowd cheers and says "It’s fun. I like to dress like them."
Rolling into the hearts of the next generation of derby girls...
"I want to be a roller derby girl when I'm older,” explains 11-year-
Regardless of the hits they dish out, these girls are a family.
"The person next to you may be your best friend and you can hit each other on the track and saw hey that was a good hit and not be mad at them,” says Cut Throat Kitty.
"The camaraderie, it’s amazing. I was in the service, yea the army doesn't even compare to this,” said
"Anyone can do it. Whether you skated your entire life or like me, my first practice was my first day on skates,” says Medium Rare