Remember the days where your parents covered you in knee pads, elbow pads, strapped on a hard device to protect your noggin, and tied shoes to your feet that had wheels attached to them? You shuffled your way, like a penguin, down the bumps and cracks of the sidewalk. Maybe you fell a little and thankfully those pads protected you from scrapes and a miserable bloody mess.
Perhaps you hated this or perhaps you loved it. Your parents probably didn’t tell you that adults can do this type of thing, called skating, as a sport. Sports to you always involved people running after a ball for the most part or just running in general. Who really likes running anyways? Skating is where it’s at and I think the members of Chippewa Valley Roller Derby can agree.
What is roller derby you may ask? Well, the sport is pretty unique – and yes, you do wear knee pads, elbow pads, a helmet and skates just like when you were a kiddo. Your parents were definitely preparing you for roller derby without even knowing it. All those falls, scraps, bumps and bruises were in preparation for one of the most exciting, team oriented sports ever. We’re lucky to have the Chippewa Valley Roller Derby team in our area.
So anyways, a bout (competition) as they call it, consists of two 30 minute halves, each played in increments called ‘jams.’ These increments last up to two minutes. Each team has 5 players on the track for a jam, one being a jammer and the other four are blockers. The jammer is to make it through the blockers so their team gets points, all while the blockers are of course, blocking, and trying to stop the jammer on the opposing team from getting points.
The Chippewa Valley Roller Derby team has been jammin’ and blockin’ opponents all over the midwest since 2009. They compete within a 6 hour radius and have gone up against teams in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. Over the past couple years the team has won around 14 out of 16 competitions! (WHOA!) They’re definitely serious about this skating business. So serious in fact that they got invited to Uff Da Palooza, a giant tournament in Wausau, WI with all sanctioned games.
Think this sounds pretty cool, but you’re not sure if it’s for you? Well, you don’t have to be an experienced skater to check out CVRD. The team welcomes people with any experience level, are an equal opportunity sport and offers all minorities, body shapes, and LGBTQA+ a friendly space to participate. You just need to be 18+ to join the team.
CVRD isn’t all about the competition, though their statistics may make it seem otherwise. The team is actually at 501c3 non-profit and they raise money for a variety of charities, with a featured one each bout. Current members have joined for a variety of reasons. Some joined for the athletic outlet, others for the support of the team, or, to try something new.
“I’m sad to say I decided to join because I wasn’t in a good place in life. I was finishing college, didn’t really have any direction, and wasn’t treating my body well. Then I started going to practice and really having to work, HARD, to get my feet under me and learn the rules. I resented derby a lot at first, because I had to change my whole life to start being a better person. But derby and my teammates didn’t give up on me, and got me to care more about my health and showed me that I can be a physically strong person. I’d never been “good” at a sport before, or ever been a real part of a team. Now I’m much healthier, making better life choices, and have an amazing derby family, on and off the track.” – Jenna Vande Zande a.k.a. Trumble Gum #18
There is even more to the competitions that skating around too! Each has a theme which is represented on the posters and the team via funky outfits. “There are so many, and each of the themes are great because the skaters come up with the ideas. This season, we had The Apex Files, American Quads, Love-Skate Relationship and (this Saturday, 4/21/18) A Smashing Good Time. They tend to be roller derby plays on pop-culture.” – Samantha Wensel a.k.a. Lady Novacaine
The audience even gets to join in on the fun. Cheering and dressing up with the theme if they’d like! But, besides all that there is a special shout out option for those attending. Say you want to tell a derby member ‘happy birthday’ or ‘you go girl/dude,’ you can pay $1 to have the announcer tell anything (as long as it’s appropriate) to any skater. It’s a fun way to interact with someone you know and become a part of the competition. This also makes the skaters feel pretty good too.
Chippewa Valley Roller Derby has a place for anyone, whether it be getting out in the game blocking and jamming, being an official, coach, volunteering, or just participating as an audience member. The group is always welcoming new people and are excited to have you join their derby family. If you’re interested in learning or joining the team feel free to contact them.
The current members have found a lot to love about being a part of CVRD. When asking what they loved about CVRD I received a ton of heartfelt responses.
“I love seeing skaters improve over time and do amazing things. I love that the derby community is SO inclusive and supportive- everyone is welcome and has a place in derby. I love that anybody can do it! No one is too fat, too old, whatever- to play derby. I love the people on this league- CVRD specifically- is constantly complimented on the way our league is operated and the way we conduct ourselves with other leagues, within our community, and at games. I love that CVRD gives back to the Chippewa Valley through monetary and volunteering contributions. Most of all I love the sport- I don’t even like sports but I love that it’s a full contact women’s sport- I love the strategy, I love the theme of things, I love the general attitude roller derby has, and I love the way it makes you feel so good to be involved.” – Heather Brockel a.k.a. Heathen Lizzy
“Oh my!! Everything. Teammates, Boutfits, Exercise, Pushing my self to get better, The fans.” – Pam Christiansen a.k.a. Postal Paminator
“Honestly, everything. It’s so rewarding to learn new skills, and to see yourself improve on them. And even when you think you’re stuck in a rut, or aren’t getting better, one of your teammates is there to tell you how great you’re doing, and that’s such a good feeling. CVRD is filled with so many great people!” – Samantha Wensel a.k.a. Lady Novacaine
“What’s not to love. I would say my teammates are the best part about it. We all have one thing that brought us together and yet we are all from different lifestyles and careers. It’s just amazing.” – April Hoyt Gunderzik a.k.a. Toxic Hell #333
“There is a place for everyone in Roller Derby. If being a skater is not your thing, there are many positions in the league for referee staff, techies, data and stat nerds, rules gurus, and production/event planners.” – Kimm Schroeder a.k.a. Stunt Double #25
“Everything. I don’t know where my life would be now if i hadn’t joined derby when I did. Pretty sure derby saved my life. I made a whole new family out of derby. They all picked me up at my lowest, and raised me up like one of their own. I couldn’t ask for a better derby family!” – Jazmyn Allende a.k.a. Honest Abe
“Full contact, fast paced action, scantily clad bad-ass women! What is not to like!” – Doug Rautio a.k.a. Dig Dug
“There are a lot of things I love about roller derby. But what has gotten me to stay for so long has been pride – in different degrees and stages. At first it was determination to learn this new thing, then it was to stay to become good at it. But now, I stay because I’m so proud of my team and my teammates, and so glad to be a part of what we have built together. I’ve met so many wonderful people through derby, and everyone is so supportive. People have asked me how I can participate in roller derby, because I’m a smaller person. But I like to describe derby as a puzzle. There is a defined outside edge, but inside are dozens of pieces of different sizes and shapes that all fit together to make one big picture. That’s how it is on our team. We have tall skaters, short skaters, fast skaters, and slow/steady skaters. But we each have different skills that all are incredibly useful in a game, and we couldn’t be as successful without our blend of people and perspectives. Our off the track lives also come into play. We have nurses, professors, folks in food service, landscapers, funeral home workers, police and EMS, factory workers, college students, and so many more. We use our off skates skills to help each other with life’s ups and downs, and work to build strong relationships with others in our communities. Roller derby isn’t just a sports team, it’s a family and a community where people can feel safe, wanted, and loved. We welcome anyone and everyone. We changed our name from Chippewa Valley Roller Girls to Roller Derby to be more inclusive for our gender neutral and trans teammates. We hope to continue to expand to also include a men’s team under our CVRD family someday, and maybe get a junior league going too. The sky is the limit for CVRD! And that’s why I love roller derby. It helped me find my place in the world, helped me start to love myself when I didn’t think I could, and introduced me to dozens of absolutely amazing human beings. Anyone who is considering joining should come to practice and meet us. Even if you don’t ever want to skate, we have a place for you in our family.” – Jenna Vande Zande a.k.a. Trubble Gum #18
“The challenge, the people, the atmosphere. I have the unique opportunity with my work to travel the country and practice with teams where I travel. Every team I have played with has been so welcoming and it is so much fun to just be able to play a sport and jump in and play no matter where I am at. So far I have skated in 10 states and counting. I couldn’t ask for a better more welcoming community across the nation!” – Theresa Krause a.k.a. TK-Oh
If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, the CVRD team’s last home bout of the season is this Saturday, April 21st, with the title of ‘A Smashing Good Time!’ Located at the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center the first whistle is scheduled to blow at 5:30pm. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. The charity for this bout is ‘Helping Hands.’ You can even meet the skaters at their afterparty!