Back in the late '70s and early '80s, I remember watching roller derby on TV. For a while. it came on immediately following the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) programming, and it was almost professional wrestling on skates.
Sports entertainment at its finest.
I probably never thought much about roller derby since then until Konawa High School graduate Katie Hoff (Ackerman) and one of her skating partners, Sam Griffin, showed up at the sports desk one day about 18 months ago. They wanted to turn in some roller derby results to be published in the newspaper.
In May 2010, Hoff and Griffin were two of the founders of the Arbuckle Derby Darlings, an all-female roller derby team that was centered around the Davis area. Fast forward to the current day, and the Arbuckle Derby Darlings have now transformed into the South Central Roller Girls (SSRG), who have most of their home bouts at Star Skate in Ada.
Hoff, known as “Hoff the Chain” on the derby floor, has invited me to watch one of her team’s bouts ever since. Our schedules hadn’t worked out until this past Saturday night, when the Black Heart Queens of the SSRG hosted the Benton County Derby Dames of northwest Arkansas.
It didn’t look like I would get to attend that bout either, but a smoother-than-expected Saturday at the sports desk allowed me enough time to get to Star Skate in time to watch the show.
And what a spectacle it was. I’ve watched just about every sport imaginable in person at least once, and now I can add roller derby to that list.
“C’mon, Cali, roller derby a sport?” some of you are probably thinking right about now. You better believe it.
In the '70s and '80s, there were hair-pulling, tripping and clotheslines, and all that nonsense was encouraged. Today’s roller derby athletes have to adhere by strict rules. Just ask Hoff, who was ejected from one bout for tripping after she herself had tumbled to the ground. Most violations result in trips to the penalty box, sort of like infractions in hockey.