DuPage's 'Holly Daze' loves the toughness, tattoos and togetherness of roller derby
Holly Vossel of the DuPage Derby Dames said that getting together after a meet or a tough practice and comparing bruises is sort of a rite of passage in the hard-hitting world of roller derby.
“People break bones,” she told the DuPage Policy Journal. “It’s a full-body contact sport, and we’re actually kind of proud of our injuries. It’s like your armor. You earned that bruise by working hard. Not a lot of people understand that. You get a lot of concerned looks when you go to the doctor, though.”
Roller derby originated in the mid-1930s in Chicago. The sport is contested between two teams of five skaters n so-called bouts. One player, the jammer, scores points by lapping the other team's three blockers, who try to prevent scoring, and a pivot, who can switch between being a blocker and a jammer.
Bouts consist of a number of races called jams.
Skaters often take on a derby nickname that is typically a pun or a play on words. Vossel goes by the name "Holly Daze."
Vossel got into roller derby four years ago when a friend suggested giving the sport a try. She started looking into teams in the area, and after attending a bout joined up with the Dupage Derby Dames. The Derby Dames have three teams: an A team, which travels to bouts; a B team, which hosts other teams; and a C team, for players just getting started. Vossel is a triple threat: jamming, blocking and playing pivot for the A and B teams.
“I skate on our charter team, which is a mix of our top-20ish skaters," she said. "It’s primarily our A team, but also some from the B team. I’ll play on the A team and B team as well. I’m still kind of climbing the ranks.”
The DuPage Derby Dames are part of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, the main governing body of the sport. They regularly compete against teams from Illinois and surrounding states, such as Wisconsin.
Vossel said that your team becomes an extension of your family, and the people you compete against become close friends.
“You play these similar teams, and you see the skaters over and over,” Vossel said. “You see them and talk and go, 'Oh, we’re friends,' but when the whistle blows, we’re not friends anymore. At least not for the next two minutes.”
Some of the things Vossel said she has come to love is the sense of family and camaraderie, and being able to grow as a person and learn new things about yourself.
“Derby is such a different thing for everyone,” Vossel said. “We’re all so passionate about it, and you have to put your all into it. It is empowering and teaches you things about yourself that you didn’t think you were capable of.”
The Derby Dames' schedule and more information are available at www.dupagederbydames.com.
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Wheaton, IL, United States