Roller derby mania

By day, 28-year-old Aundrea White is a registered nurse in the ICU at Parkland hospital.

But one Saturday a month, she is Luna Tick Tick Boom, one of Assassination City Roller Derby’s most fearsome players.

Since joining the roller derby in November, White has dropped 40 pounds and now weighs in at a muscular 260.

“It’s the only sport in the world in which my figure is really appreciated,” she says. “I’m a big girl, and it works for me.”

The league’s players come in all sizes — some as small as 100 pounds. And they’re more diverse than the tattooed tough girls that come to mind.

Players include women from 18 to older than 40. There are single moms, stay-at-home moms, a medical student, a lawyer and a Harvard graduate.

Roller derby became popular in the first half of the 20th Century and even wound up as the spectacle of a few TV specials in the 1970s. It had a revival in the late ’90s, and now it is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. Since last year’s roller-derby movie “Whip It”, which Drew Barrymore directed and acted in, the sport is more popular than ever.

This season the Assassination City Roller Derby league has sold out every bout at Dad’s Broadway Skateland in Mesquite, plus draws a standby crowd of people who wait for spectators to leave at halftime so they can get in to watch the second half.

“People think that we just come out here and put on fishnets and act tough,” says the woman called Cordelia ChaseHer, in the roller-derby tradition of pun names. “But there’s so much more that goes into it.”

Everyone must attend at least one league practice per week, and each team schedules its own practices besides that. They sometimes work without air conditioning to save money (the players own the league). And occasionally, the grueling workouts cause someone to bend over and wretch in the rink.

All that work is for a few moments of glory on the roller derby track. Each team in the league plays only about a dozen games per year, and each “bout”, as the games are called, lasts one hour.

White was a regular at Red Bird Skateland as a kid, but when she joined the derby, it had been at least 10 years since she’d strapped on a pair of skates.

“I was definitely the Bambi skater,” she says. “And you wonder if you really can do it. You think, ‘What did I get myself into?’”

But she’d already spent some $300 on equipment, and she stuck it out. Now she’s a member of team Viva La Revolucion, and she’s making her mark on the league.

“The bouts let you bring out your inner rock star,” White says. “To hear fans scream your name when you make a good play is an awesome feeling.”

But there’s more to it than that. For White and many others in the league, roller derby opened up a whole new social scene.

“It brought sisters back into my life,” White says. “I think our league is different from any other because we do socials, and we help each other get through life’s problems as well as doing the sport.”

It might seem astounding that in such a rough sport, which requires dozens of women to work together, these chicks don’t beef among themselves. But they all say it’s true.

“I’ve never had friendships like this before in my life,” says Pyro Maim Ya, one of the league’s biggest stars. “I’m the strongest, most confident version of me, and I owe it all to roller derby.”

• The Assassination City Roller Derby’s championship bout and season finale takes place on Saturday, Sept. 18. Purchase tickets for $12 at The event is BYOB (no glass bottles) and BYO camping chair because of limited seating. Doors open at 7 p.m.

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