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Friday, April 25, 2014

Roller Derby Isn't Just for Women Anymore

The Milwaukee Blitzdkrieg play to win

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Milwaukee’s official introduction to the sport of roller derby happened in 2005 when the Brew City Bruisers were founded. The all-woman league offered something new and exciting and was an instantly popular addition to the city. That success prompted four Brew City Bruiser refs to form Milwaukee Blitzdkrieg, a men’s roller derby league, in 2009.

Since then, Milwaukee Blitzdkrieg has created two teams, the Half Barrel Heroes and the Great Lakes Pirates. With each team consisting of only nine players, they are looking to expand and get more of Milwaukee involved in the sport.

“We are open to adding at least 10 more guys this year,” said communications chair Adam Herbage, aka Lemme Adam. “If you get involved in roller derby you instantly have hundreds of friends all over the nation no matter your skill level, age or gender."

“It’s great exercise and a hell of a community,” he said. “You meet people on the track and you’re skating against them, but you’re best friends.”

For those unfamiliar with roller derby, the game works like this: There are two 30- minute periods and in those periods there are two-minute sessions called “jams.” During the jams, each team has five players consisting of a jammer and four blockers on the track at a time. Since the jammer is the only person on the team who can score points, they must work their way through the blockers in order to become lead jammer. Upon making the first pass, they then gain a point for every opponent they strategically bypass on their way around the track.

Although in the past, roller derby was all about putting on a show for the crowd, what is seen nowadays is far from fake. It is a rough sport and the possibility of injury is there, but the rules actually don’t allow for certain violent behaviors to occur between players on or off the track.

“It's real,” said Herbage. “Derby has gone through several iterations since it began in the 1930s, and in the ’70s, it was all about the spectacle, with staged fights and predetermined outcomes. A lot of people still have that impression of roller derby, and it's just not accurate. We train hard; we're playing to win.”

The Half Barrel Heroes and the Great Lakes Pirates are scheduled to face off for their second home game on April 27 at 6 p.m. Rollaero Skate Center located at 5200 S. Pennsylvania Ave. in Cudahy. Tickets are available in advance for $8 or for $10 at the door.

The third and final home game of the Milwaukee Blitzdkrieg season is scheduled for May 17 at Rollaero Skate Center. From May 30 to June 1, the Milwaukee Blitzdkreig will also be participating in the 2014 Midwest BrewHaHa, a roller derby tournament hosted by the Brew City Bruisers. The tournament is being held downtown at the U.S. Cellular Arena.

For more information about Milwaukee Blitzdkrieg or to purchase tickets, visit blitzdkrieg.com.