I recently interviewed Jessica Rosenwinkel, member of the Push Up Brawlers, Cedar Valley’s own roller derby team.
Jessica broke down roller derby history for me: “Roller Derby itself started in 1935 during the depression, but it was more of an endurance race. Around 1940, they started with points and rules. Interest in Roller Derby died down until the 70's when Roller Derby made a come back, but it was all scripted and 'set up.' They even showed Roller Derby bouts on TV with crazy stuff like alligator pits in the middle of the track. During these times Derby was not an all-female sport. In 2001 Roller Derby started again in Texas, this time it was a strictly female dominated sport.”
“In Iowa, Roller Derby was started by 'Dangerous Daugharthy' in Des Moines. After moving from Grinnell and not knowing anyone, she saw part of a show on television called Roller Girls, which is a reality show about Roller Derby and decided that's what she wanted to do. So, with a little work, she started The Mid Iowa Rollers,” Jessica explained.
Jessica’s team, the Push Up Brawlers started in May 2010 and they hope to start bouting in April 2011. She was actually one of the first members and helped to get the team started. The first meeting was held at her own house and the team has grown since then.
Many people have seen the movie Whip It and know that roller derby can be very empowering for women. Jessica believes that roller derby empowers women because, “When the girls get on the track they don't have to deal with anything else. They get to put aside any pressing issues and be exactly who they are. They don't have to worry that someone will say they are being un-lady like or that their clothes are too this or that. For a few hours, they can think only about what they want. They get to find the strength in their bodies and use it to win.”
Derby is a very important part of Iowa’s communities. Jessica informed me that, “Every Derby team that I know of not only plays Derby, but they get out and volunteer in the community. All teams are committed to some sort of volunteer service. Our team is also completely player-run with every girl contributing in someway to make sure everything works for us.”
To contact the Push Up Brawlers about future bouts or for information on how to get involved visit their Facebook page Cedar Valley Derby Divas.