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Pinky & The Brawn: Derby Basics

October 29, 2013

Pinky & The Brawn

Roller derby as a sport is gaining popularity in the United States. As it grows, there are a few things to clear up — first of all, roller derby is not fake.

At one point, it may have been fake for TV or whomever, but in the modern incarnation of roller derby, it is real.

The hits are real, and there are no scripts. Teams practice two to three times per week and generally play about 10 bouts a season.

Some teams can put in seven hours a week of practice and scrimmage other teams or have intra-squad scrimmaging a few times a month.

The length of the season varies by team, but overall, it can last seven to 10 months out of the year.

The basics of the sport are simple. Bouts (the contests) consist of two 30-minute periods. Each period is broken up into segments called jams.

Jams can last up to two minutes. There is no set number of jams in a period — just as many as can be played before the period expires.

The jam can be called off by the lead jammer (the first jammer through the group of blockers) before the 2 minutes expire.

If a jam starts with time left on the period clock, and the period clock expires, the jam will run to its conclusion, even if there is no time on the period clock.

This is much like a football play starting with one second on the clock. When the quarter ends, the play goes to its conclusion without the play stopping.

At the end of the game, according to rule 2.2.2, the team who scores the most points wins the bout.

There are five players from each team on the track at a time. One player is designated the jammer, and the other four skaters are called blockers.

The jammers score points for their team by lapping the opposing team's blockers.

If players commit penalties they have to sit in the penalty box for one minute. Penalties include hitting players above the shoulders, below the knees or in the middle of their back or using hands, elbows or forearms to hit an opponent.

There are other penalties for hitting people who are out of bounds or passing someone while out of bounds.

If a penalty is egregious enough, a skater may be kicked out. Fighting, negligent hits, biting, dangerous hits above the shoulders or accumulating seven trips to the penalty box could all lead to skaters being ejected from the bout.

That is roller derby 101 — a crash course.

In derby, people get to use stage names. My name is Pinky & the Brawn. Yes the "&" is part of my name.

I am a roller derby referee. I skate along with the players and call penalties. I have been fortunate enough to travel to different leagues to referee.

I have been to New York, Ohio, Williamsport, Wilkes Barre, Hermitage, Mt. Pleasant and Connellsville.

I have had the opportunity to travel to many leagues' practices and work with teams.

Teams do different drills to develop skating skills. Leagues vary the amount of drills refs participate in at practices.

Some leagues are conservative and referees only work on skating drills. Other leagues allow the male refs to participate in hitting drills.

I am definitely one who shies away from hitting the skaters and just sticks with non-contact drills and pace lines.

Locally, there is one roller derby team. They are the Northern Allegheny Roller Derby. The team practices at the Edgewood Family Fun Center in DuBois.

Northern Allegheny (NARD) is hosting a multi-league mix-up scrimmage on Oct. 26 at the Reynoldsville Rollerdrome.

The start time is yet to be determined, because it depends on the number of skaters who sign up to play. NARD is hoping to have two games that day.

Future blog posts will include score reporting and events in the derby community.

Roll on...

Chip Sheer is Pinky & the Brawn.

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