Roller Derby: The sisterhood of the skates

Mon Sep 28, 2009 5:33pm EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) No joy at the gym? Try a little girl power.

Women are flocking to roller derby to find camaraderie, thrills, and enough physical conditioning and true grit to do a warrior princess proud.

"There are very assertive women who need an outlet for more than just running on a treadmill," Karla Addesso, a referee for the Florida-based Gainesville Roller Rebels, said in an interview.

Maybe it's feminism's third wave, or the lure of the counter culture, but the full contact sport is enjoying a resurgence. More than 400 home-grown leagues have sprung up across the United States since 2001.

Devotees also hope a new movie that will be released in the United States on Friday will respect their passion as it spreads the word.

"I know the actresses had to learn roller derby," Addesso said of the film, titled "Whip It."

"It's about a young woman who wants to do something a little out of the ordinary," she said. "We support that message."

Addesso, an entomologist whose derby name is Damsel Flies, is an example of the broad spectrum of women in their 20s, 30s and 40s who've found fulfillment by jamming, blocking and whipping it.   Continued...

<p>The Gainesville Roller Rebels compete against the Beach Brawl Skater Dolls at the Alachua County Fairgrounds, Gainesville, Florida, July 11, 2009. REUTERS/Dana John Hill/Handout</p>