Youâll find these women teaching classes at the University of Oklahoma and shuttling kidsÂ around town during regular business hours. But on their nights and weekends off, they strap on helmets, knee pads and elbow braces and play the fast-paced, brutally physical sport of roller derby.
The Oklahoma Victory Dolls A and B teams, the All-Stars and Tornado Alley, will square off in the annual Rumble in the Alley tournament starting today. Eight teams from the across the country are slated to play, including two menâs teams. The Victory Dolls find themselves ranked 39 globally among 1,500 teams in the Flat Track Derby Association heading into theÂ tournament.
Tornado Alley member Cheyenne Riggs, a.k.a. Professor Flex, saidÂ attendees should expect exciting games accompanied by raffles, halftime entertainment andÂ audience participation opportunities.
âThere will be lots of hits and constant action,â Riggs said.
âI think one of the most interestingÂ things about roller derby is there is often offense and defense being played at both times, whichÂ is very unusual in a sport. It can be a little confusing at first, but the rules are actually fairlyÂ simple.â
Within a game of roller derby, two teams designate five players to play in a series of shortÂ matches, known as jams. Each team has an assigned player known as a jammer, identified by aÂ marked helmet, who attempts to advance past members of the opposite team.
While teamsÂ work to advance their own jammer, they simultaneously attempt to impede the progress of theÂ oppositionâs jammer.
âItâs an empowering sport for women,â All-Star team captain Krista Young said. âYou donât seeÂ women in contact sports that often.â
Young said the Victory Dolls have ramped up practice and training time in anticipation of theÂ tournament. All-Star team members are required to attend three two-and-a-half hour practicesÂ per week, with many also attending optional practices throughout the week.
âI like to lift weights, cycle, run, and get as much time on my skates as possible,â YoungÂ said. âEspecially coming up on a tournament or round robin, we want to pay a lot attention to ourÂ hydration and what weâre putting into our body to fuel ourselves. Thereâs a lot of preparation thatÂ goes into it.â
According to Riggs, the preparation and hard work is often noticed by spectators,Â attracting new skaters, coaches and volunteers.
âThey came to an event and were like âoh my God, this sport is awesomeâ,â Riggs said. âTheyâveÂ stuck around and have been around for years now.â
The Cleveland County YMCA, 1350 Lexington St., will play host to Rumble in the Alley.
Games will take place from Saturday to Sunday. Admission is $20 for Saturday, $10 for Sunday and $25 for a weekend pass. Children under 12 years old accompanied by an adult receive free admission.
Those interested in attending may purchase tickets online atÂ rumbleinthealley.brownpapertickets.com.