Roller Derby Is Hot In Houston

flickr image by sirtrentalot
Roller derby is a 77-year old amateur sport that has been through several boom and bust cycles. It's been booming ever since a rebirth in Austin in 2000. And now it's being played by over 135 all-female leagues. Houston alone has six teams.

"It was sort of like a mixture amazing figure skating and football."

That’s Tiffany Hamilton, or as her teammates call her Girl Friday. She’s one of 80 players in the Houston Roller Derby. A game that’s a cross between roller skating and flag football and here’s how roller derby works:

Ten women in skates stand around in a circle on a flat surface like a skating rink or a basketball court. Eight of these players huddle while two skaters called “jammers” stand behind them.  At the sound of the whistle, the jammers will try to escape through the other players. Each time the jammers pass the opponents, they earn points.  The team with the most points wins the game. Hamilton hopes that fans can see roller derby as she does — competitive and engaging for women.

"I think the fact that it’s a sport that really features women who are strong and capable and are actually playing a full contact sport, and also sort of having a little bit of grace with the skating and agility that really what clinched it for me."

British native Coralie Crawford attributes roller derby for keeping her in Houston.

"Well actually, I was going through a divorce and I was going to return to England, and my friend, who was from New Zealand, found about the roller derby and asked me to come to a game. So I went and I fell in love with it."

Houston Roller Derby has four home teams and two away teams and they train every Wednesday. Tiffany Hamilton says for women who are thinking about joining you just need one thing.

"The ability to just come out and give it your all and just keep practicing."

Tonight the first game sees the Brawlers take on the Spindletop Rollergirls. Followed by the Psych Ward Sirens vs The Valkyries at the Bayou Music Center in downtown.

Bio photo of Edel Howlin

Edel Howlin

Producer, Houston Matters

Edel is a producer on Houston Matters and reporter for PBS’s Newshour Weekend...