Roller Derby Popularity Grows Alongside Platte Valley Vixens


It's been nearly four years since the Platte Valley Roller Vixens first hit the roller derby track.

“We started our league in 2011, started off maybe 10-12 girls kind of skating around, not knowing what we were doing,” says league president Sara Thomas, known as ‘Dame VonSlapavitch' on the track.

Now they've doubled their team's size, and with a host of volunteers are skating on their home turf, for what Stephanie Gallaway says is a growing fan base.

“This is one of our first games that we've had since we've been here at the Swine Barn at Fonner Park that we've actually sold out, so it's definitely growing bit by bit every year,” says Gallaway, whose derby name is ‘Florence Welts.'

“Roller derby is actually America's fastest growing sport; you don't hear about it as much as you should,” says Thomas.

Players say it's not just skating in circles. Thomas explains that they're pushing and maneuvering to get their point-scorer -- called a ‘jammer' -- past the other team's blockers while blocking the opposing jammer.

“The object is that you're playing offense and defense at the same time and you really want your jammer to be the jammer that gets through all the blockers first,” says Thomas.

The Vixens practice weekly, three hours at a time, and say their sport takes endurance, athleticism, and willingness to hit the floor, something many people don't realize.

“Because they're not used to seeing women play full contact sports like football or hockey, those kind of things, that what we do is just kind of staged or maybe more like WWF wrestling or something like that,” says Gallaway.

So why play a rough game like roller derby? Thomas says everyone has their own reason, but being a Vixen puts a smile on many faces.

“They've gotten out of college, they're looking for a sport, some people have just moved here, want to make friends; our referees maybe they like that skating aspect, but they just don't want to play,” she says.

Gallaway calls the league an “amazing community,” and says opposing teams are only opponents when they're on the track.

“In the end, all of us are doing this for fun, so there's no hard feelings or anything like that once the game is over,” she says.

The Roller Vixens have more away games in the coming weeks, but they'll skate in Grand Island again on June 13 against the Central Kansas Roller Girls.

Click HERE to open the PVRV website.

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