Southern Illinois Roller Derby program now several years old, still growing
Elizabeth Cook said she's too stubborn to quit.
Cook, the head coach of the Southern Illinois roller-derby teams, said in an email interview with Southwest Illinois News that she's been with the program, in one capacity or another, since its inception in 2009.
In that time, roller derby has grown as a sport and with the numbers of skaters, she said.
The Southern Illinois Roller Girls remain the first and only all-female flat-track roller-derby league in southern Illinois, according to soillrollergirls.com. The Derby Girls became a full-member league of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association in 2012, according to soillrollergirls.com.
“As a league, we have been through many ups and downs, but I have to say that we are probably a closer knit team than ever before as a result,” Cook said. “We keep going into bouts with odds against us and winning.”
The team's website says the skaters come from all walks of life – students, mothers, nurses, guidance counselors, photographers and more. The team's coaches and support staff are volunteers, with the coaches overseeing two practices a week.
For those unfamiliar with the format of the sport, according to an article on SBNation.com, "The Rise of Roller Derby," a team's jammer scores a point each time he or she laps an opposing skater, while four blockers try to guide their jammer's way.
The Roller Girls beat Confluence Crush out of St. Louis 173-129 on April 2 at home, but lost to Rollergirls Of Central Kentucky 154-129 on May 14 in Lexington, according to FlatTrackStats.com.
“I don't know that we have true rivals, but there are certainly teams we love to play,” Cook said.
Specific teams she mentioned included the Derby Dames from Columbia, Missouri, and the Lafayette (Indiana) Brawlin Dolls.
“This year we've been to New Orleans," Cook said. "In the past, we've been to Abingdon, Topeka, Cedar falls Iowa. We do a lot of bout trading where we go to them, then they come to us."
In 2014, the guys decided to get in on the fun. The Brigade of Handsome Gentlemen (BHG) – the “little brother league,” according to Cook – began play that year. The Roller Girls play the BHG throughout the year, with the next bout scheduled for Dec. 17. Men and women play under the same derby rules, Cook said.
Next action for the Roller Girls is taking on A-Town Roller Derby on Aug. 13 in Anderson, Indiana. The next home bout for the Roller Girls is Sept. 10 when they host Cape Girardeau. First whistle is at 6 p.m. The week after that, the team goes to Columbia to face CoMo.
On Oct. 22, the teams host Brawl-O-Ween, all all-day derby “scrimmageathon” that will be capped by the BHG taking on Detroit Men's Roller Derby. Events start at 8 a.m.
Cook added that the team is recruiting during July and August.
All SIRG events take place at the Pavilion.