She was 32 -years- old. She hadn’t had wheels on her feet since she was a little kid, gingerly rollerblading around her neighborhood. But now she had her helmet cinched tight, her pads on, and her adrenaline on high. She was in her first roller derby bout.
“I was jumping and dancing around with excitement and intermittently filled with dread,” said Amy Wasney, aka Scary Fisher, a member of Madison Roller Derby, which has its season open this weekend. “I had the time of my life.”
She’s had a blast ever since, particularly while blasting opponents. “Every time I’m on the track I feel an overwhelming feeling of euphoria that lets me shed all the stresses of my life.” Wasney, now 34 and living in the Indian Springs neighborhood, continued, “Also, being able to slam into other people as hard as you can is incredibly therapeutic.”
Roller derby has its origins in the 1930s. By the 1940s, five million spectators were enjoying the sport in over 50 cities across the country. The roller skating contact sport includes jams and jammers; pivots and blockers. Mayhem ensues.
Plenty of people, like Wasney, have joined roller derby barely knowing how to skate at all. She said, “Watching them go from looking like a baby giraffe to absolute dominating powerhouses on the track is great to see.”
To those who participate, and those who watch them, it’s more than just winning and losing. “I now have an incredible community of folks that I know have my back and support me both on and off the tracks,” Wasney said.
Madison Roller Derby is celebrating its 20th anniversary season this year. The league is now made up of over 100 volunteer skaters, referees, officials, and staff. Teams have included the Quad Squad, Reservoir Dolls, Unholy Rollers, Vaudeville Vixens, and the Dairyland Dolls. The organization also has a Mad Calves Junior Derby for children aged 8-17.
“Roller derby allows you to be whomever you want to be and allows people the chance to be their true selves in whatever way that means to them.”