At Lawrence, roughly a quarter of the student body is involved with athletics. While this statistic gives an interesting read into the presence of athletics on campus, it fails to include an important segment of the Lawrence athletic community, the faculty. Many of Lawrence’s professors are notable athletes in their own right. Megan Pickett, Associate Professor of Physics, is one such individual. Pickett plays roller derby in Appleton with Fox Cities Roller Derby (FCRD), and is captain of the All Stars, one of the league’s two teams.
In Pickett’s words, roller derby is “like playing speed chess on wheels while people are throwing bricks at you.” As a full contact sport, roller derby is something akin to a combination of hockey and rugby on wheels. Unlike these sports, however, roller derby is a team sport with no ball—one player on each team practically is the ball. Roller derby is played between two teams on an oval track. During gameplay, four blockers and one jammer from each team are in play. The objective is for the jammer to travel around the track, lapping as many of the opposing team’s members as possible. The jammer scores one point for every opposing player they can pass. The blockers are responsible for avoiding being lapped by the other team’s jammer, while simultaneously helping their jammer to travel around the track. In this sense, all of the players need to play offense and defense at the same time.
Fox Cities Roller Derby is a roller derby league in Appleton. The league fields two teams, the 920 Honeys and the All Stars. On Feb. 10, the league had its second bout of the year. The 920 Honeys faced the Kingsford Krush, while the All Stars took on the Vaudeville Vixens. In the first game of the evening, the 920 Honeys skated to victory. The team, consisting mostly of newer players, did an excellent job controlling the flow of the game and creating opportunities as play progressed. It was an impressive showing, especially considering that it was many of the players’ first game. Although the game was close throughout, ultimately the 920 Honeys opened up a lead, winning with a score of 197 to Kingsford’s 156.
The All Stars, made up of Appleton’s more experienced players, took on the Vaudeville Vixens. In the first half of the game, the All Stars did a good job countering the Vixens’ plays. At half time, the game was extremely close, with only a few points separating the two teams. In the second half, the Vixens moved into an aggressive man-on-man offense against the All Star’s blockers. This tactic initially threw the All Stars off balance, allowing the Vixens to open a lead. While the All Stars adapted and were able to more effectively counter the Vixens’ offense as the game continued, there was not time to recover from the point deficit. Ultimately, the Vixens won the game 154 to 99.
Roller derby is a sport like no other. The full contact nature of the sport, paired with the speed possible on skates, makes for a fast paced and dynamic game. Beyond the mechanics of the game, Pickett comments that roller derby “is something that allows people to find themselves, and find confidence in themselves.” In seeing the 920 Honeys and the All Stars take to the track, it was clear that derby brings people together in a special way, forging individuals into a tightly knit team.
Those interested in learning more about derby or getting involved can find out more on the Fox Cities Roller Derby Facebook page, or can contact Prof. Pickett. The league is always looking for people interested in skating, refereeing or being an official. Loaner equipment and rental skates are available for those who want to get involved. The league has a committee to teach new skaters everything they need to know, and get beginners up to speed. There is a men’s team in addition to the women’s teams. Additionally, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) has a very expansive and liberal gender policy in terms of gender expression and gender identity. These standards are much more inclusive than those of the Olympics.
The All Stars and the 920 Honeys have their next bout on Saturday, March 10. The 920 Honeys will take on the Missfit Dolls, while the All Stars will face Madison’s Unholy Rollers at Skaters Edge in Appleton. Tickets can be purchased through the Fox Cities Roller Derby Facebook page or through Prof. Pickett in the Physics Department.