A girl strapped to a stretcher holds up a “rock on!” hand gesture as she is wheeled out of the stadium, while the sold-out crowd and her teammates cheer her on—and the bout has not even begun. Everything about the derby is tough, even the warm-up. As one occupied stretcher is cleared away, an empty one is brought in, and the game begins. An admiring member of the audience holds a “Break My Heart A-Bomb” sign—but more than that is about to get broken.
It’s the big one, the final bout of the year for the Windy City Rollers, the battle at Cicero Stadium for the Ivy King Cup Championship. Busses and cars line the streets outside. The seats are packed; everyone from punk-rock boyfriends, Grandmas and Grandpas in red flannel shirts to the roller dames’ children fill the stands. “A lot of people don’t get it at first,” says an audience member, holding up an overflowing cup of beer as he explains the rules of the game to a fellow audience member.
Twenty minutes is set on the clock and the girls storm the rink. The Manic Attackers, dressed in straightjacket-like dresses complete with bloodstains, are battling the Double Crossers.
Halfway through the game, Hoosier Mama flies into a group of chairs and she ends up on the floor writhing in pain. A broken tibia and fibula and she’s out of the game.
The Double Crossers dominate, taking the win 42-20 over the Manic Attackers.
The next game is the one everyone has been waiting for: Hells Bells versus defending champs The Fury. Cowbells ring for the Hells Bells and the bout is underway.
It’s a close game. With 2:43 left on the clock, a kick with a skate towards an opposing team member leads to a full-on brawl and three skaters get ejected from the game.
“It’s personal at this point,” says the announcer, “and it’s penalties galore.” The girls play on in a not-so-clean, not-so-pretty last two minutes. With a final score of 25-15, The Fury take the championship for the second year in a row.
Talking about her defense of the night, The Fury’s Crimson Crusher, soaked in champagne from the celebration, says, “They couldn’t compete with our wall.” (Leah Westfall)