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The Independent

Windy City Rollers league on a winning streak

Regina M. Torres, Staff Writer

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As of Feb. 28, Chicago’s own Windy City Rollers women’s roller derby league has been ranked No. 35 out of 399 member leagues belonging under the umbrella of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.

Off to a strong start this year, the Windy City Rollers’ A and B travel teams, the All-Stars and Second Wind respectively, hosted their first home bouts of the season on April 19 at the Broadway Armory Park in the city’s North side neighborhood of Edgewater. Kicking off the action was Second Wind’s match—winning with a final score of 237-199—against the  Arbor Bruising Co of the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes.

Before moving onto the second bout of the night consisting of the All-Stars versus the Evil Twins travel team of the Twin City Derby Girls , the audience was treated to a halftime performance given by the Comedy Dance Collective. This is when the Independent had the chance to interview 27-year-old All-Stars blocker Ren “Mack Savage” Lahvic.   

Lahvic went over some roller derby basics and history, as the sport is unique to Chicago in multiple ways. Roller derby actually got started in Chicago in the 1930’s by Leo Sultzer.

“Back then, it was all dudes literally skating in a circle for hours, with no hitting either,” Lahvic said. “In the 70’s-80’s, modern derby started with the hitting. It became a more women-empowerment sport.”

By 2004, the Windy City Rollers became one of the founding members of the WFTDA, riding the rebirth wave of roller derby. Today, there are about 110 skaters and 30-50 volunteers for the Rollers team. However, as the league is not professional yet and many members hold day jobs, Lahvic describes the league as “a sorority with more tattoos.”

Lahvic estimates 500-700 skaters have joined the league over the past thirteen years, with many keeping in contact with one another after they leave. Windy City Rollers’ members range in age from 18-50-something and four members play in the Roller Derby World Cup, including Lahvic. “I’m a quarter Korean, so I play for Team Korea. There’s also Team Finland, West Indies and Japan.”

The team consists of five players: one jammer, one pivot and the rest are blockers. In Lahvic’s words, “The jammers are like the ball. They score points by passing opposing team members. The blockers help their jammer through while stopping the other team’s jammer. What’s interesting is that both teams play offense and defense at the same time.”

Just like the cult following surrounding roller derby games and culture, Lahvic’s enthusiasm for the sport is apparent. “Roller derby is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Before derby, I was a meek human being. Everything scared me! If there are any women out there that have thought of playing, I say do it!”

Training camps for those women – and men – interested in being a roller-derby badass start up in July.

Second Wind and Third Coast will face off at the Broadway Armory at 6 p.m. on June 17.

The Broadway Armory is located at 5917 N. Broadway St., Chicago, IL 60660.

For more information visit the Windy City Rollers’ website windycityrollers.com.

 

 

*Edited on 5/25/17 to reflect a change in the teams playing on June 17.

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