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Shaping The Minds Of America’s Youth: The OKC Roller Derby

12:00 PM EDT on September 10, 2010

Before I started writing this post, the only thing I knew about Roller Derby was what I learned in that movie Rollerball starring LL Cool J's abs and the supermodel that was married to Uncle Jesse. Turns out, I did not even know that. Rollerball, it seems, has something to do with motorcycles and the former Soviet bloc; Roller Derby features very physical women skating around in an oval and making me feel like a wimp.

The Oklahoma City Roller Derby league was started in 2006 by eight women, and has since grown to a group of more than 50. This Saturday is the state tournament, and features teams from Tulsa, Stillwater, Broken Arrow, and Sand Springs. After the jump, an interview with roller derby evangelist and one of the many women in the world that can kick the crap out of me, Mean Mean Maxine.

TLO: Explain roller derby to a roller derby virgin like myself. What am I going to see? I gather it is not the same as the time I went to Fun Skate for my friend William's 11th birthday party.

MMM: It all depends on the type of birthday party...I remember my slumber parties turning into American Gladiator competitions!

Women's Flat Track Roller Derby consists of two teams of women (yes...there are men's teams loving called "merby") who are all skating on quad skates, no roller blades are allowed. On the track, which is oval-ish in shape, there will be 5 players from each team consisting of 4 blockers and 1 jammer. In the pack, the blockers, there are two people from opposing teams with a helmet "panty" on with a strip down the middle designating the blocker as a pivot. A pivot is responsible for controlling the pack by speeding up, slowing down, calling plays, etc. The jammer is designated by the star on her helmet "panty" and she lines up on the track behind the pack of blockers.

The first whistle blows and the pack of blockers start skating, trying to get control of the pack by getting in front or making a wall of players or any other strategy they may have to keep the opposing team's jammer from breaking through and getting through the pack first. On the second whistle the jammers start skating. The goal of the jammers is to get through the pack as quickly as possible, without any penalties, and obtain lead jammer. Lead jammer is designated by the referee pointing at the jammer after she has exited the pack in front of the opposing jammer. The first pass of the jammer through the pack is a "non-scoring pass" and is to determine lead jammer, giving the lead jammer the option of calling off the jam at any time she would like. To call off a jam you will see her hitting the front of her hips with her hands. Not all jams with have a lead jammer, at that point the jam will last the two full minutes and neither jammer is able to call the jam off. On the subsequent passes through the pack the jammer is able to score points, one point for each of the opposing team members that her hips pass...her hips must pass, not her foot or her shoulders or her boobs...her hips!

The team with the most points wins...and the chick with the most scrapes and bruises gets to look bad ass for a week or so!

TLO: Did you ever see that movie Whip It with Ellen Page? It got really good reviews, but I'm wondering if you noticed that it got little details wrong. When I watch a movie about a sport I am very familiar with, it drives me crazy when they do unrealistic/not true to the sport stuff in favor of the story.

MMM: The story of her feeling like she didn't fit the mold and was looking for her way seems to hit the nail on the head for a lot of women playing this sport. The search for something to fill a void of some sort...however, the violence doesn't happen, all that much. Don't get me wrong though! There are times when people get angry and a fist may fly, or there might be an intentional back block (pushing someone in the back), or even a block with or to the head. For the most part they are few and far between. We do not line up on the track, skate around, stop, and then clothes line the other team. Don't get me wrong, there are people that you come across that you would love to do that to but then you realize that the best way to beat them is by kicking their asses on the track and taking home the win!

TLO: Who do you think is the favorite to win the state tournament? I need another reason to talk trash to those clowns in Tulsa, so please say the OKC team.

MMM: Well, I might be a little biased but I think that the OKC Roller Derby Expo team will take home the B Team ranking championship trophy after beating CORDA from Stillwater!! I also think that the OKC Roller Derby Home Team will wipe the floor with Tulsa Derby Brigade from Sand Springs and Green Country Roller Girls from Broken Arrow. We won't make them cry...much!

TLO: Do you ever get the urge to go to Sonic and just out of nowhere bodycheck one of those carhops skating food out to a car?

MMM: I think there would be nothing better than to jump out of the car and wait for a skating carhop carrying at least 2 Route 44 milk shakes and knock the heck out of her...of course showering her with ice cream! They don't call me "Meanie" for nothing!

TLO: If someone were interested in playing roller derby, how can they get involved?

If you are a woman, ages 18 and up, you can contact to get information on being a roller girl. We are also looking to extend our Non-Skating Official Staff which consists of keeping stats during home bouts (and some away bouts if help is needed) which would get you in to bouts for free and would greatly help us! Non Skating Officials are exactly that....non-skating...meaning if you don't/can't/won't skate then we won't make you and you can still help! If you can skate and just don't want to play then we would LOVE to get some more referees! All of the interested individuals can contact


So there you have it. If you've got nothing to do Saturday, or if you get done watching OU/Florida State and haven't seen enough people hitting each other, head down to the Historic Farmers Market at 311 South Klein and find out the answer to the question people have been asking since the beginning of time 2007. Tell them I sent you, and you just might receive a new toaster oven (you will not receive a toaster oven)!

Complete details at their facebook page.

Also! The OKC Roller Derby League is looking for local artists to design bout posters for their 2011 season. Are you a local artist? Do you want to do this? Do you possess an e-mail account? Send an e-mail to

Shaping the Minds is a bi-weekly column featuring local people doing fun, creative, unusual, and/or interesting things in Oklahoma City. If you are a writer/blogger/festival/comedian/organizer/musician/independent journalist/podcaster/charity/whatever doing something that makes this a better place to live and want to be featured here, email me at tonyhanadarko at gmail dot com, or tweet me up at @tonyhanadarko.

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