Military wives bump and bond in roller derby leagues [UPDATED]


Dominion Roller Girls "Army versus Navy" bout. (Photo via

These women are elbowing, shoving and tripping each other — and they’re the best of friends.

Heather Cockroft, 23, is one of 50 military spouses at Joint Base Lewis-McChord who don skates, pads, hot pants and helmets to kick the crap out of each other as part of a local roller derby league.

A match between her team, the G.I. Janes, and the Bettie Brigade recently drew a crowd of 350 people, and they’re not the only ones.

This rough-edged alternative to the FRGs sport — a way to come together and sweat out the stress of their husbands’ deployments — is cropping up from Okinawa to Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

UPDATE: Sarah Howard aka Gloria Sass, founder of the Bettie Brigade, wrote in to thank us. She writes, “I think it is worth mentioning that a large percentage of our skaters are soldiers. Yes, our league includeds spouses – but, it is not a military spouses club or an ‘alternative to the FRG’s.’ We boast many dedicated soldiers, both enlisted and officers – Air Force and Army…  Some married, some not.”

There’s the Devil Dog Derby Dames and Kokeshi Roller Dolls in Okinawa; the Lawton Rollergirls in Oklahoma, the Dominion Derby Girls in Virginia, and the Black River Rollers at Fort Drum, N.Y.

UPDATE: The Kokeshi Roller Dolls are headed to their first “Spring Roll” exhibition on Saturday, May 14, at Comprehensive Park Arena. Check out the web site for more details.

From Military Roller Derby Wives on Facebook comes this heartfelt post:

We have a crazy lifestyle…our husbands deploy, sometimes our FRGs blow, we don’t always have the support of our families and sometimes we just move to a new base and can’t find anyone to connect with. For me derby was my way of connecting… now don’t get me wrong I wasn’t completely without friends but there is never a time when you can’t use more friends…. friends who have your back, who will cry/celebrate/curse with you and then afterwards knock you down on the track. I am so fortunate that one of my closest friends here at fort sill came up with our league. I have 50+ sisters now… my daughter has who knows how many lil brothers/sisters and my husband can go off to war (if need be, i personally prefer if he stayed home!!!) and not worry about me needing support/help. I love everything about derby and this page is for all of us to connect and be there for each other…it might be a simple sport to some people but to us its our derby family <3


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  1. Fast Skates and Hard Hits
    Okinawa, Japan — The Kokeshi Roller Dolls are bringing roller derby sports entertainment to the Okinawa community with their first bout Saturday, May 14.

    Their “Spring Roll” exhibition will be held at Comprehensive Park Arena. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the hard-hitting action begins at 6:30 p.m.

    Two teams will battle it out on the track with fast Jammers lapping through the pack of Blockers for an intense bout with hard hits, whips, and fast skating action you don’t want to miss. Tickets are $10 or ¥1000, and will be sold at the door.

    Bring extra cash and snag some KRD merchandise including T-shirts and bumper stickers. Local food and beer vendors will be located outside the arena; food and drinks are allowed on the second floor only. Shoes are not allowed inside the venue, so please bring a bag to carry them inside.

    The Dolls have been training since October to bring roller derby, one of the fastest growing sports in the world, to Japan. It’s the only contact sport dominated by women. KRD uses rules developed by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). The skater-owned, skater-run league is made up of over 60 players, coaches, non-skating officials, and referees. KRD begins their first season in October 2011 with three teams: the Sake Bombers, Habu Hellions, and Shisa Slammers.

    For a map to the Comprehensive Park Arena visit The main entrance for parking is located off Hwy 227 through the torii entrance or off of Hwy 329. Come out and support Okinawa’s first roller derby league that will offer the best in sports entertainment!

    For more info please visit,

  2. Risky Biscuit on

    heeyyyyyy derby is spreading like a beautiful virus! yay for the spouses that support the military and play, and YAY FOR THE MILITARY WOMEN and MEN that are also players and refs! hugs and slugs!

  3. Congrats to you all for starting up at league at Joint Base Lewis McChord! Kudo’s!!!
    If you are in the DC area this weekend, check out the DC Rollergirls! Our 5th Season Champ bout is Saturday, May 14 at the DC National Guard Armory. I play for the DC DemonCats and we are the defending champs, ready to take on Scare Force One who is undeafted during the home season. Hope to see you there!

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