Out There With 12 Sports: Local roller derby revitalized by new-look team
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - After the sport’s original growth in Wichita beginning nearly two decades ago, roller derby is once again seeing an increase in popularity.
The sport began being played across the world in the mid-1900s before turning into an entertainment venture on TV. But it has since returned to its roots over the past few decades. led by all-female teams and leagues across the country.
Formerly known as ICT Roller Derby, the Wicked City Roller Derby team in Wichita has rebuilt following the COVID-19 pandemic. Their numbers dwindled to just two competitors but have since built enough to begin competing and traveling - soon - once again.
“So the team started close to 17 years ago, but we rebranded just this year. Since COVID, there was a drop in numbers. It started with just two of us left from COVID, and then from there we had to build all over again,” said Delaney Smith, one of the remaining members of the team. Smith is also venturing into opening her own skate shop this month, the only of its kind in the state, named Cherry Bomb Skates.
Roller derby is a sport played on skates on an oval track. It consists of two teams of five - made up of four blockers and one jammer. It is the jammer’s goal to get past the opposing team, as they block for their jammer and try to stop the opposition. Once the jammer is past the group, they get a point, and subsequent points are added for each opponent passed.
“Jams” take place for two minutes over the course of a 60-minute game played in two 30-minute halves.
“Chaos. Total chaos. If you don’t know the rules, it’s really hard to understand what’s happening,” Smith said.
They hosted their first competition since COVID earlier this month at the cotillion against the Kansas City Roller Warriors with more games and trips planned for the remainder of 2023.
“I love that we’re bringing it back. I know if was popular in Wichita maybe like 2016 time, and we’re growing, and it’s so cool to have it come back,” said Georgia Minter.
The sport is welcoming to all ages, genders and backgrounds with no prior sport experience necessary.
“I am friends with all of them and I love them a lot. They’re like my new family,” said Ammure Kent, a high-schooler who recently discovered the sport. “It’s just a community that will bring you in no matter what.”
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