Love, Skating and Bruises – Southside Times

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By Todd Travis

Roller derby is making a comeback

Roller derby has seen some resurgence since its heyday in the early to mid-1900s. high-contact sports. Jessie Fisher, an A-level player for “The Socialites” in the Circle City Roller Derby league, became involved in the sport around this time. At the time, she skated under the name “Juke Skywalker”, although today she only skates under her real name. “It was like the Wild West back then because there were no regulations on equipment and wearing helmets all the time. Now we’re down to a science as more and more skaters are starting to join the leagues,” Fisher explained.

An evolving sport

The sport has gone through an evolution that many people may not realize. “It grew out of something people remember from the 70s with staged matches and fights. It is not so today. We don’t know who’s going to win and we’re not nudging each other. So when people come to a game, they realize it and enjoy the entertainment just because it’s a real sport. It’s intense in a good way and not in a staged way,” Fisher said. “There are still very hard knocks, fast skating and, unfortunately, injuries too. But there is a strategy and rules that we must respect. It’s definitely not catfights and things like that,” she added.

The Battle of the Bs on June 4. (Photo by Greg Dunn)

More than a hobby

Roller derby is an amateur sport that welcomes players of all ages, all levels and from all walks of life. But it’s not a sport for the faint of heart. “For many of us, it’s a game of attrition. Some people in their first year of skating realize they can’t commit to the time or have an injury that they’re not recovering from. Some people realize they’re not in a full-contact sport — they’re really in it until they’re hit for the first time,” Fisher explained. “For those of us who stay long term, it’s just part of who you are. For me, after a few years of enjoying the fun, I started working full time and maintaining a home and that became my release,” she continued. Today, Fisher maintains her commitment to the derby while balancing family responsibilities as a full-time parent. “Roller derby has been a wonderful thing to have in my life. It’s a sense of community that can be hard to find as an adult,” she described.

Circle City Roller Derby. (Photo by Cori Arkins)

Circle City Roller Derby is the first league to resume public fighting in Indiana post-pandemic. “We are the luckiest because we came out of Covid with our space again, where a lot of leagues had to give it up for financial reasons. Our league has prioritized and paid our monthly dues throughout the pandemic so we can pay our rent. We knew the likelihood of finding space post-pandemic would be next to impossible, so we doubled down and made sure it was a priority,” Fisher said. “Now all of the Indianapolis leagues are skating at our practice facility.” The league also remains dedicated to supporting its partner, Rock Steady Boxing, which uses boxing as a method to help people with Parkinson’s disease.

Observe, support or join a league

Circle City will host a workshop for new members in October. “We are literally starting everyone from scratch. They have their own dedicated month-long practice where they learn basic skating skills and Derby 101. Once you complete this workshop, you can choose to become a league member,” Fisher explained.

Jesse Fisher. (Photo by Greg Dunn)

The next game will take place on Saturday July 23 at Perry Park. The first game is at 6 p.m. with the Socialites taking on Gem City Roller Derby in Dayton, Ohio. After this match will be the B-Team match where the Party Crashers will face the Glass City Rollers of Toledo, Ohio. For more information on the Circle City Roller Derby league, visit CircleCityRollerDerby.com.

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