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Thu March 21, 2013
The Detroit Derby Girls roll into Stateside
When you think of Masonic Temple, chances are you think of the shows you've seen in the grand theater or the smaller Scottish Rite Cathedral.
But to a growing group of fans, the Masonic Temple is the arena for roller derby.
Masonic Temple is the home rink of the Detroit Derby Girls, the official roller derby team in Detroit.
The Detroit Derby Girls League consist of eight teams: the Detroit Pistoffs, the Motor City Disassembly Line, the Motown Wreckers, the Devil's Night Dames, the Grand Prix Madonnas, the Pistol Whippers, the D-Funk Allstars, and the Detroit Derby Girls Allstars.
The league has around 80 to 100 skaters on their rosters who are in their twenties to forties and come from a wide range of backgrounds including homemakers, professors, doctors, and lawyers.
Nobody is left out of the roller derby experience.
For those who are unfamiliar with what exactly a roller derby is and how it works here is a quick breakdown of how the game is played.
A "bout" consists of two 30 minute periods. Each bout consists of a series of two minute long "jams."
There are five players, four blockers and one jammer from each team on the rink at a time. The goal is for the jammer to pass the opposing teams blockers.
Points are scored each time a jammer passes the opposing team's blocker and it is the blockers job to assist their jammer while preventing the opposing team's jammer from scoring.
When a jam begins, the two jammers vie for the head of the group called the lead jammer.
Once lead jammer is established, both jammers can earn points, but the lead jammer has the capability to end the jam early.
The winner is determined by the team with the highest score at the end of the bout.
No? Well, here is a video of the rules and the Detroit Derby Girls in action:
The sport is not exactly for the faint of heart.
Roller derby is considered a level five, full contact sport. Players are required to wear protective gear and are even given insurance policies through their league.
Though roller derby is full of high contact action, one would be amazed at the wide range of ages and backgrounds of the fans who come to cheer the ladies on.
You'll see everything from grandmas, to hardcore punks, even children and families. There is no doubt that this sport is getting bigger and reaching a wider audience.
We got to talk with two Detroit Derby Girls, JT Sangsland a.k.a ShamWow and Tina Vowels a.k.a Tinja, or Tiny Ninja.
The two gave us a first person perspective on roller derby - what it takes to play in a derby league, and what it is like to be in the middle of a bout.
We also find out what the movie "Whip It", shot here in Detroit by Drew Barrymore in 2008-2009, did to help make the sport as popular as it is today.
For those interested in seeing a match, you can check out the upcoming schedule and learn more about the Detroit Derby Girls.
For those who want to get on the rink, the upcoming "Derby U" is open to any woman who wants to learn more about derby or attend the league try-outs in June.
You can find this information and more at their website detroitderbygirls.com