Apr 28, 2023 - Things to Do

Philly's roller derby team is fierce, and back on the track

A scrum of participants at one of Philly's women's roller derby competitions.

Roller derby is like rugby meets basketball. Photo: Courtesy of Jaime "WiK” Filson

Philly’s women’s roller derby team is a bunch of whirling daredevils, sacrificing their bodies for the fun of it — and sometimes to the detriment of their day jobs.

Driving the news: Philly returns to the rink Saturday for the first time in three years. They’re squaring off against Chicago’s Windy City Rollers.

Why it matters: We love our contact sports!

How it works: Two teams, each with five players, basically try to score the most points.

  • "Jammers" (the offense) look to elude "blockers" (the defense) on the track.
  • Once a "lead jammer" is established, that person scores points by lapping defenders. Every lapped competitor equals one point.

The intrigue: Injuries are how they roll, says Kara Rivers. She got a concussion and broke her fibula and was sidelined for weeks — then right back out on the rink once her doctor cleared her.

  • "It’s an addicting sport. You hear a lot of people say roller derby saved their soul," says Rivers, a caterer by day who competes as Whiskey ChaseHer. "Getting to hit people is the cherry on top of that."

Whiskey ChaseHer? Yes, and Russian Bayou, Stef Leopard, Dread Velvet — the funnest part are the alter-roller egos.

  • Fun fact: Rivers, a Wisconsin transplant who moved to Philly two years ago, met her wife through roller derby.

Zoom out: Philly's team saw its numbers dwindle during the pandemic. But the squad is now nearly at full strength — and ranked ninth among nearly 500 teams in its international traveling league.

If you go: Doors open at 11am at the Northeast Racquet Club & Fitness Center. First whistle at noon. Tickets: $15 online, $20 at the door. Children 12 and under get in free.


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