BY DAY, YOU MIGHT FIND MOLLY HATCHER,
Although the glitter and bright colors
a 32-year-old former lawyer and Ph.D.
she and her teammates wear might harken
candidate in LSA’s joint English and
back to the days of roller disco, no one on
women’s studies program, at the podium
this track will be skating to Village People
clad member of one Detroit’s four flat-
The Detroit Derby Girls learn the ins and outs of the sport in a 12-week course known as “Derby U.” They’re taught not only how to sprint on eight wheels, but also how to stay healthy and safe on the track — as much as possible.
track roller derby teams.
(TOP) U-M doctoral candidate Molly Hatch-
they try to keep the opposing team’s lead
of a Mason Hall classroom. But by night, Molly Hatcher transforms into “The Mad Hatcher,” a gritty, glitter-
a hand-painted helmet, neon green rac-
er (“The Mad Hatcher”) raises her hands in an attempt to avoid a penalty on the track during a bout.
ing top, and matching lime green mouth
(BOTTOM LEFT) The D-Funk Allstars mop
On this particular night, Hatcher sports
tunes tonight. As soon as their warmup is over, these women will begin an all-out roller battle: sprinting, shoving, blocking, and knocking opponents to the ground as skater, known as the “jammer,” from completing a lap around the track. It gets crazy quickly. Referees in silver, sparkly shorts eject players for overly ag-
over the floor of Detroit’s Cobo Hall, skat-
the floor with the Devil’s Night Dames in a recent face-off. Final score: All Stars 195; Dames 49.
ing for her team, the D-Funk Allstars.
(BOTTOM RIGHT) The D-Funk Allstars post-
cheer from the stands. Hatcher and her
guard. She maneuvers her roller skates
game at Detroit’s Cobo Arena.
gressive behavior. Beer-chugging fans teammates hip-check their opponents. Despite the spectacle of the event, Hatcher and a growing number of women like her are working to transform the reputation of the derby into that of a sport.
/ A BRIEF TREATISE ON THE HISTORY OF ROLLER DERBY AS WE KNOW IT The term “roller derby” was coined in the 1920s as a name for roller-skating races that often lasted multiple days. Flat-track roller derby was popularized in the late 1940s, while the ’60s and ’70s witnessed staged, televised roller bouts with titles like Rollergame. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that
LSA Magazine Magazine / SPRING 2011
Published on May 10, 2011