Roller derby history in Indianapolis, IN

A group of skaters in a huddle with their hands in the middle

You could be in the next huddle. | Photo via @tklubens + @naptownrollerderby

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As host of the Indy 500, it’s easy for Hoosiers to forget about this eight-wheeled sport. Roller derby season is right around the corner, are you ready to jam?

Indy’s derby teams

Circle City Roller Derby + Naptown Roller Derby are both Indy members of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), which sets the standards, rankings + rules for the sport. That means they’re legit, like being part of the NFL. They also compete against other states and will sometimes have themed bouts like Star Wars night.

Players mid-skate elbowing each other

Naptown Roller Derby in action — watch your elbows. | Photo via @tklubens + @naptownrollerderby

The sport

The DIY, counterculture sport was founded in the 1930s at the Chicago Coliseum and picked up speed in Indy in 1937, when it hosted the Transcontinental Roller Derby at the state fairgrounds. At that time, it was more popular for men to participate, and Tom Whitney was the first known Indy resident to roll through.

Arguably the best part of this sport? The names. Circle City has players like “Marie Fury,” “Saratonin,” and ‘Tiny Ann Mighty” to name a few. They’re used as a way to embrace the edgier side of the skaters’ personalities. However, more recently there’s been a push against the alt names as serious players have started using their real names in an attempt to gain legitimacy for the sport.

Get involved

Starting in April, you’ll be able to catch the Circle City + Naptown Roller Derby teams kick off the season with workshops and info sessions for new and seasoned prospective skaters. Yes, that means you can dust off those old skates and join, if you’re interested.

You can catch a bout from the comfort of your couch on WFTDA’s YouTube page or catch the Circle City Roller Derby’s first bout on Sat., June 4 at Perry Rink Park (451 E. Stop 11 Rd.).

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