FORT WAYNE – They started out competing at the Roller Dome in 2005. Eight years later the Fort Wayne Derby Girls have been promoted to the Memorial Coliseum and are playing host to one of four Division I qualifying playoff tournaments Sept. 6-8 that will happen around the country in the next two months.
The tournament is bringing in 10 teams from around the country, Canada and England to compete in Fort Wayne.
The top three teams at this and other playoff tournaments advance to the championships in Milwaukee in November.
The Derby Girls worked with Visit Fort Wayne to submit a bid to host the tournament.
Some major teams in the derby community are expected to compete.
The Denver Roller Dolls are currently ranked No. 2 in the world, and the London Rollergirls participated in the opening ceremony for the Olympics in 2012.
A roller derby game, or bout, involves two teams of five roller skaters going around a track, getting points for passing members of the other team.
There are two 30-minute halves that are divided up into two-minute stretches called jams.
The Derby Girls are a non-profit organization formed in 2005 and were the first female flat-track roller derby team in Indiana.
Since then, teams have been established in Kokomo, South Bend, Indianapolis, Evansville and Bloomington.
Charity is huge for the Derby Girls.
They have raised more than $110,000 for local charities including Fort Wayne Community Schools, Mad Anthonys Hope House, Hoosier Burn Camp, various cancer treatment and research centers and many others.
“Besides the passion for the sport, we have a passion for charity, too,” Derby Girls marketing director Kelly Adkins said. Adkins first saw the Derby Girls in action when the charity she was volunteering for was the beneficiary for the night’s game. She was 17 years old at the time, and the team had an age restriction. Once she returned to Fort Wayne for school, at age 19, she was able to join.
“I volunteer at Black Pine Animal Sanctuary, and we were the beneficiary for the donation that night and they asked me to accept it. One passion ended up leading to another.”
Associated with the Derby Girls are the “Tootsie Rollers” and the “Derby Brats” for kids ages 5 and 17. For the past few years, membership has remained steady with between 15 and 30 women at the tryouts each year.
The goal of the Rollers and Brats is to perpetuate the All-Star team in order to eventually participate in the types of tournaments that they are playing host to next weekend.
Volunteer positions are still needed for next week’s tournament at the Coliseum.
If interested, contact Michelle Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.