November 2010 Featured League: Windy City Rollers

November 1, 2010

It's not enough for the Windy City Rollers to have earned a place at the WFTDA Championships four times; this year they decided it was time they hosted. Uproar on the Lakeshore will introduce WFTDA fans from around the world to the UIC Pavillion and die-hard WCR fans wearing blue. Chicago's always been known for its sport scene and as roller derby got its earliest start in this city; it seems more than appropriate that we'll be celebrating the best our sport has to offer in Chi-town. Learn more about the Windy City Rollers...

Photo by Gil Leora

We practice and bout in Chicago, IL.

How does your season run?
Our intraleague season runs annually from mid-January through the first week in June. Our interleague season runs annually from late January/early February through (hopefully) the WFTDA Championships.

Are you close to any other WFTDA leagues?
The Chicago Outfit bouts right here in Chicago, about 5 miles from where we bout. The Brew City Bruisers and the Rockford Rage are both just about 90 miles from us.

How many skaters/teams do you have?
We have 4 competing home teams, the Second Wind (our B-team), the Windy City Rollers All-Stars, and the Haymarket Rioters (our farm team). We have just under 100 active skaters in the league.

How is your league structured (home teams, travel team, management)?
Our teams are outlined above, and our league management structure includes an Oversight Committee of 5 elected seats, and they keep our budget in order and ensure we are following our league’s mission statement. Below that, we have 8 elected co-chairs running 4 main committees: Administration, Events, Marketing, and Training, and each committee has several sub-committees underneath them. These 13 elected positions comprise our Leadership Committee and together with their sub-committee heads, league members, and volunteers they run every aspect of our league.

How many days a week do you practice?
There are practices scheduled every day of the week! Two days a week are dedicated to our home teams, 3 days a week we have general league practices, our All-Stars practice as a team 3 days a week, our farm team has 2 practices a week all to themselves, and our refs also have a weekly practice.

Photo by Gil Leora

Who is Windy City's biggest rival? And have you had any outstanding, memorable moments against them when you bouted?
It’s got to be Gotham. We’ve played them twice at ECDX and lost both games, and we have played them in three championship-title bouts and lost every time. This year was the first year that we introduced a trophy into our rivalry, called the Skyline Cup, currently housed in Gotham’s trophy collection (but hopefully not for long!)

Do you have any sister leagues you’d like to give a shout out to?
The Brewcity Bruisers! We love those ladies, their positive can-do attitude, their dedication, and their love of each other and the game. We are lucky to have them so nearby, and we try to scrimmage each other in our respective cities as frequently as schedules will allow. We can’t be happier to give them a shout out. Beer! Beer! Beer!

We’d also like to give a shout out to our apprentice leagues: Treasure Valley Rollergirls in Boise, ID and Diamond State Rollergirls in Wilmington, DE.

What are the individual challenges of your city?
We are very fortunate to have secured a venue within the city limits, and since October 2008 we have played at the UIC Pavilion, a fully-equipped arena that has hosted everything from concerts to the WNBA. Prior to that we were bouting in Cicero, IL, just outside city limits, in a park district gymnasium with an impressively slippery linoleum floor. Our longest challenge has been finding a safer, larger practice space, as our current space is just wide enough to fit the standard track. With walls lining our track, it is difficult to practice as hard as you want to because you don’t want to injure your teammates by slamming them into the wall.

Other challenges include getting butts in the seats to our summer-time bouts. With only 4 months of super-nice weather before the big chill rolls in, it can be difficult to compete with a summer schedule that is packed with music and food festivals, and the understandable desire to spend every possible minute soaking up the rays on the Lake Michigan shore.

Who are some of your favorite sponsors?
ATI Physical Therapy, Bottom Lounge, Broken Cherry, and Yelp! go above and beyond to sponsor us. We are also extremely grateful to Move-tastic! for being there for our track set-up and tear downs, and we love, love, love our food sponsors, Bleeding Heart Bakery, Eleven City Diner, and Hot-Doug’s. We’re also very lucky to have the doctors of Midwest Orthopedics at Rush donating their time to Uproar on the Lakeshore.

Photo by Gil Leora

What are your biggest training challenges?
Balancing all the various skill levels in the league, building programs to help each skater achieve her goals, and keeping skaters healthy and uninjured. Our All-Stars bout nearly year-round, the Second Wind bouts for 4 months out of the year, and both groups also play on a home team for 5 months of the year. Burnout can be a big factor, which is why this season we are starting to work periodization into our training program.

Who are the best "behind the scenes" skaters who make your league run?
There are so many skaters who give so much time to this league that this list could easily be very long. All skaters are required to join a committee and give volunteer hours to the league, in addition to helping with track setup/teardown and spreading the word about our games via street teaming. Nearly every skater has a “box” on the league’s org chart, and is responsible for the tasks that come with that box.

We are also extremely blessed to have many refs and volunteers who take on huge responsibilities in our league, such as heading up our Sponsorship Committee, sitting on the Oversight Committee, and managing our Oval Team (who maintain our skater court!). We absolutely can’t forget to mention by name our amazing medical staff of Mama Vendetta, Papa Doc Vendetta and Roe deLeon who donate hours upon hours of their time to keep us safe, healthy, and strong. Gil Leora has been dedicated to documenting us in photos since our inaugural season.

Who are some of your star on-track skaters and why?
All of our All-Stars bear mentioning, but the absolute stand-outs are Go-Go Hatchet, Hoosier Mama, Jackie Daniels, and Varla Vendetta.

  • Go-Go Hatchet is an incredibly hard hitter who moves through the pack like a heat-seeking missile set on target for the opposing jammer.
  • Hoosier Mama is a jammer’s dream come true; she guards the front of the pack like a pit bull that hasn’t been fed in 4 days and she’s always there with the block-whip combo to free her jammer. There’s just no whip like a whip from Hoos.
  • What is there to say that hasn’t already been said about America’s Girlfriend, Jackie Daniels? She’s a triple-threat powerhouse who is able to muscle through even the toughest packs and can make anyone hit the floor like they just drank a 5th of whiskey.
  • Varla Vendetta is also an amazing triple-threat, and she seems to be able to bend the laws of physics to her will. She’s able to get into a super low stance that can make it nearly impossible to get a legal hit on her, and she can go from 60 to 0 back to 60 faster than the speed of light.

What kind of training/bouting facilities do you have?
We currently rent the top floor of a warehouse in the north east corner of the Garfield Park neighborhood, but we are hoping to be moving into a larger space in 2011 (fingers crossed). We bout at the incredibly awesome UIC Pavilion at 525 S Racine Ave in the University Village neighborhood. That’s also where we will be hosting Uproar on the Lakeshore, and we are so excited to be sharing our home with 11 of the best teams in the nation!

So this is the second year in a row that WCR has held the top position in the North Central Region, and has not lost to another North Central team. How does it feel to be such a dominant team in your region?

Photo by Gil Leora

Roller derby is a very young sport. This is only the 4th WFTDA Championship! While we are proud of our league's accomplishments (2nd in the Eastern Region 2007 and 2008, North Central Champions 2009 and 2010, qualified for the Championships 2007-2010, and placed 2nd in the 2008 Championships), we know that different leagues, regions and players are going to all have their moments of dominance in the coming years, so we never take anything for granted. Winning is great, but what we really love is that each year the winning gets harder. Every league, every region, every player in this country is really bringing their best effort every day, and that makes us all better players, teammates and derby citizens. Huzzah for derby!

Windy City is hosting the 2010 WFTDA Championships, November 5-7, "Uproar on the Lakeshore" – what made your league decide to take on hosting this event?
As we write this, Uproar is only a few days away. With all of the last minute tasks that have to be done it seems like a moment of temporary insanity fueled the decision to host the event! Seriously though, the WCR wanted to support our derby community by opening the doors to our venue, city, and hearts to all of the skaters and fans who come to watch or participate. We think hosting this tournament is a great way to show our love of derby and Chicago.

Hosting WFTDA Championships takes a huge amount of organization and coordination; who are the people behind the scenes that you couldn't do without?
Our wrangler of wranglers, Rose Feratu; marketing and design queen Joanie Utah; the Events Committee Co-Chairs Bork Bork Bork and Tamikaze; and of course Karmageddon, our Tournament Committee Chair.

After maintaining your position as the number one seed in the North Central region; WCR went to the Pacific Northwest to play the Rose City Rollers and Oly Rollers. Even though you lost those games do you feel it will make your team better prepared for Championships?
Every game we play, win or lose, we learn something and try and apply it for the next game. This season has been the first in a long time where the All-Stars didn’t have a totally dominating series of wins under our belt going into the Championships (this will be our 4th Championships qualification in a row!) and learning how to play close games and how to lose games has been an amazing experience for our team and our league. It just makes us more focused, dedicated and harder working. We love that leagues that we beat a year ago, or two years ago, can beat us now. The great thing about roller derby is that the athleticism is always getting more impressive and the game play is constantly changing.

Your website is loaded with skater stats and team standings which must take a huge amount of time and energy (and makes us all jealous!). How did you decide what stats and accomplishments to focus on and who is responsible for making that website happen?

If goal number one was to post the essential stats even brand new fans could grasp – scoring, lead jams, blocking—goal zero was to do so in the laziest way possible. This year, the WFTDA Stats Workbook proved stable enough to allow us to invest time up front to create a straightforward system that brings stats from trackside to the site. It’s surprisingly simple: all our Head Statistician Tally Savalas has to do is upload the Stats Workbook to Google Docs and enter the resulting link in a table, and then our resident website administrator Bellatrix Lapain or her assistant Eamon Daly runs a single update script which pulls down that information and imports it into tables readable by WordPress.

Is there any other information that you would like to share with
Many of you have already heard about Tequila Mockingbird, and that on August 25, 2007 she seriously injured her spinal cord in a fall during a bout. Over 3 years have passed since that day, and many of you have shown your support through donations and by volunteering your time to her. Tequila truly thanks you for your support, but she is still in need. Please consider heading over to and sending a little derby love her way.

Do you have a special message to your fans?
WCR Fans, break out the blue and meet us at the Pavillion Saturday 11/6 round about 2:45 pm for a good ol' fashioned Chi-Town butt kickin'. Underdogs? Don't call it a comeback, we've been here for years! Wiiindeeee Ciiittteee, clap clap clap clap clap!

Would your league like to be the WFTDA Featured League of the month? Have you had an extraordinarily successful season that you'd like to share with the fans? If you are a full WFTDA member league and have the authorization to speak on behalf of your league, we'd love to hear from you! Please contact

Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.