For The Love Of Roller Derby

Growing up my sister and I were always the tomboys on the block. We were working on cars with our dad, skating and raising hell since I can remember. I was always deeply bothered by claims of what a woman should and should not do, say, act, and be. It wasn't uncommon for me to drop kick a boy in the nuts or wrestling him to the ground for boasting that "girls can't". I constantly wondered why being a girl meant I had to like tea parties when there were obviously so many better things I could be spending my time on such as playing in mud, rocking out and practicing my power ranger round house kicks. My young mind dreaded that this may just be the way things are and that there was nothing I could do about it. That is until the day I learned what roller derby was. I couldn't have been older than eight. I remember digging through my parent's camping equipment and yanking out a small black and white television. I rotated the dial in my lap trying to find cartoons as a picture finally started to appear. I eased the dial and settled into a station and what I found on that fuzzy black and white screen has been burnt into my mind ever since. What I saw were strong fishnet clad women on roller skates beating the ever loving snot out of each other. My eyes grew wide as I watched a skater place a perfect check that swung a jammer from the inside line of the banked track clear across to the outside where she slammed her forcefully in half over a railing. Awe stricken I turned my gaze to my mother and asked, "What's this?" "Roller Derby," she responded. The rest, as they say, is history.

It's true that the roller derby I witnessed as a child more closely resembles the terrible staging of a WWE wrestling match but roller derby as the world knows it today holds much more meaning. We've come from a long way as a sport. What was once staged antics is now an entire underground revival that's the life force in many women's lives. It means something different to us all but I think we can all agree that for the women of roller derby there is a certain sense of empowerment that can only come from bruised hips and a touch of rink rash. The truth is, at it's core roller derby is a feminist movement. It's about not having to say you're sorry for being strong, fierce, smart & female. And that's something The Chicago Outfit knows quite a bit about.

I've been skating with the ladies of the Chicago Outfit a year this summer. What my team mates have taught me on the track transcend any lesson I could have learned in a classroom. The Outfit has shown me how rewarding it feels to push your boundaries, step outside your comfort zone, achieve your goals and work as a team. Before I joined the Chicago Outfit I could name a handful of women who inspired me and now I can name fifty two. Sure, watching my team mates pound the opposition into submission is awesome but I've seen something bout day doesn't always offer and that is the charity and selflessness of my team mates. Any given weekend they may be wrestling in spaghetti, pouring shots, getting their burlesque on or poppin' a skate in your face but they are also volunteering at cancer walks, polar plunging for the Special Olympics, and raising proceeds for great organizations such as The Howard Brown Health Center, Ignite the Spirit, The Rape, Abuse & Incest Network, Girls Rock! Chicago and many more. The Chicago Outfit is more than just a derby team, we're family. We represent ourselves, our league and our city the only way we know how and that's with Sass, Class & Dignity. 2011 is going to be concrete evidence of this.

While you were fighting off Chicago's cruel winter The Outfit has been plotting and scheming for our 2011 season. At our home opener The Chicago Syndicate shut down Tri-City 128 to 56. Syndicate has also jumped to the #22 spot in Derby News Network's power rankings and North Star suggests that the Outfit is solidly on their way to their first North Central tournament.Our A team aren't the only ones shutting down the track this season, The Shade Brigade swept the Southern Illinois Rollergirls 207 to 70 and has recently passed vote to play more competitively as opposed to equal play time. This is gearing up to be a season you won't want to miss so hit up our merch section pick up your season pass, deck yourself out in some grey & yellow and head out to our next home bout versus the ArcRival All Stars July 9th at Windy City Feildhouse. Once you're there sit back, have a brew and watch as your beloved Chicago Outfit dominate the rink this season... I dare you to tell us we can't.

Also remember to check back weekly for more blog updates, interviews with your favorite Outfit skaters, Q & A with a few special guests as well as up to date information on all things Outfit!

Hugs & Hip Checks, Yvonna Gobetch