Interested in roller derby? Learn more about the sport from Charm City Roller Girls’ ThoroughBled

Black Rose Rollers members, Freak on Alicia, left, and By O. Hazard, right, put the squeeze on Harrisburg's Fallout Femmes' member Simone T. Devour during a roller derby match at Magic Elm Skateland last year. (THE EVENING SUN--CLARE BECKER)

Roller derby attracts women of all kinds, styles and shapes. When I played, I bumped elbows and hips with moms, waitresses, a parole officer, teachers and a librarian. For me, roller derby was fun, social and a great way to stay fit. That was until I broke my wrist last April during practice.

While I miss strapping on my skates twice a week, I’ve decided to stay off my wheels for now and cheer in the stands at area games (this is for my own safety and others, BTW).

And the roller derby lovin’ doesn’t end. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tracey Farrow a.k.a. Charm City Roller Girls’ ThoroughBled for Smart’s May/June issue. She is known on the roller derby track as the “queen of the penalty box.” Be sure to check out my interview with her later this month!


According to Tracey Farrow, roller derby is exciting but it can be confusing. “It’s not fake or scripted like roller derby was in the ’70s,” she said.


Roller derby is a contact sport where two teams of five players on each side skate around a track, forming a tight, pack-like group. This group is actually called “the pack.” A jammer is a position in roller derby that is usually the team’s fastest skater. The jammer’s job is to get through the pack.

Each team has three blockers who try to help the jammer get through the pack and stop the other team’s jammer simultaneously. The blockers can do this by hitting the opposite team’s jammer with their hips or elbows or grabbing onto their own jammer to push them forward, helping them gain momentum.

Pivots are blockers who skate at the front of the pack, setting the pace for the other skaters. Points are scored in roller derby when the jammers go through the pack a second time. Jammers try to go through the pack as many times as possible in order to gain points for their team.


Charm City Roller Girl star ThoroughBled, aka Tracey Farrow. She's a grandmother who plays roller derby. (SMART -- PAUL KUEHNEL)

Tracey Farrow plays pivot on Mobtown Mobs, and in the All Stars, she plays outside blocker, the position of one of the more aggressive pack skaters. The outside blocker protects the pivot as well as the outside of the pack and doesn’t let anyone pass. According to Farrow, “this position plays wrecking ball to the pack and is one of the hardest hitters.” Read our full interview with Tracey here.


Check out these teams near York:

Charm City Roller Girls
Hanover’s Black Rose Rollers
Harrisburg Area Roller Derby
Lancaster’s Dutchland Rollers
Chesapeake Roller Derby
Harm City Homicide

Find out more about Tracey Farrow, aka Charm City Roller Girls’ ThoroughBled here.

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4 Responses

  1. You forgot Chesapeake Roller Derby in Westminster, MD – home to several PA derby skaters.

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  2. Emileigh Clare says:

    Thanks for the heads ups, James!

  3. Red Tash says:

    You ladies are fortunate to have so many options for playing derby in your area! Rock on!

  4. FYI, we’re trying to round up interest in junior derby in the Baltimore area. We are setting up the basics of the organization (preparing to be a non profit) and have a small gathering that’s growing steadily. When we have enough who are willing to meet on a regular basis, we will have ourselves a real league. Get in touch if you’re interested or share the info if you know someone else who might be!

    Charm City Junior Derby

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