ANDERSON, Ind. — Hurt ankles. Busted lips. Bruised ribs.
It’s just part of the game, even on the junior level.
Roller derby has been around for decades, but a recent surge in popularity has helped bring a junior team to Anderson. The league may be for minors, but they play by the same rules as the adults.
“A lot of people when you tell them what roller derby is, the parents are like, ‘You want to teach my daughter how to get beat up on roller skates?’” coach Scott Viera said. “… I have to explain to them that there are certain rules to it.”
Viera started the Hoosier Bruisers, Anderson’s junior team, with only four girls in October 2012. Just a little more than a year later, 33 girls aged 5 to 17 are on the team.
He said that when he recruits new players and the parents are hesitant he invites them to practice to see what the game is all about.
Each game, or bout, consists of two 30-minute periods divided into 2-minute “jams.” Each team assigns a “jammer,” who scores points by lapping the opposing team members as they skate counterclockwise on the track. The rest of the players are part of “the pack,” which consists of blockers who try to prevent the opposing jammer from scoring by using offensive and defensive tactics. Each team can have one blocker who is a “pivot” and can be designated as a jammer during a jam.
It’s a high-contact sport that requires certain safety precautions. Viera said the first lesson each girl learns is how to fall down properly to avoid injuries.
“Every skater, when they’re learning how to skate, that’s the last thing you want to do,” he said. “Once you learn to fall correctly, it doesn’t hurt so much.”