Ames Roller Derby Association seeks college age members


Kelby Wingert/Iowa State Daily

Austin Kimball-Gerritson, 22, Keri Crist-Wagner, 37, and Athena Strotman, 37, do a drill focused on blocking out opponents during their roller derby team’s practice on Jan. 12.

Greg Zwiers

Ames Roller Derby Association is new group looking to expand the sport of roller derby in Ames. The founders decided to start their own organization after driving to Des Moines for three years.

Anyone over 18 is allowed to join the association. While roller derby is typically a women’s sport, there are opportunities for men to be involved in refereeing and helping organize.

“There’s so much potential for roller derby in Ames,” said Mindy Kimball-Gerritson, one of the founders of the group.

Most of the current members of the Ames Roller Derby Association are in their late 20s to early 30s, Kimball-Gerritson said. She said that they want to get younger people involved.

“I would have played roller derby when I was at Iowa State,” Kimball-Gerritson said. “We’d just love to have some college students involved.”

Kimball-Gerritson and the other three founding members of the Ames Roller Derby Association competed on the Des Moines team that travelled around the Midwest. One bout they were at in Lincoln, Neb. had a large fan base that inspired Kimball-Gerritson.

There had to be a way to bring roller derby to Ames, Kimball-Gerritson thought after seeing the amount of fans in Lincoln. She said it would be amazing if they could get people to come and watch.

“[The association is] set up to promote roller derby, ” Laura Shelton, one of the founders said. “We will add teams as we have enough people.”

Shelton said she hopes to have three or four teams in Ames, eventually having a men’s team and a youth team as well. There is currently one team in the association, which is named the Skunk River Riot.

Shelton said they do most of their communicating through the Ames Roller Derby Association Facebook page. Their website is

Shelton and Kimball-Gerritson both played team sports in high school and said they missed being part of team because there are not a lot of team sports opportunities for adults.

Shelton said roller derby gave her a brand new source of friends.

“It does take some training and dedication if you want to be competitive,” Shelton said.

Shelton said roller derby is usually either a very athletic sport or more about spectacle, and that the Ames Roller Derby Association is looking for something in the middle. She said most people think of the movie “Whip It” when they think of roller derby even though it is overdramatized.

Roller derby teams can compete within their association or against teams in different associations. Teams in the Ames Roller Derby Association will play according to Women’s Flat Track Derby Association rules.

The Ames Roller Derby Association’s first scheduled bout is June 28 against the Dubuque Bomb Squad.

“Our goal is to spend the spring training all these new girls and getting ready for our first bout in June,” Shelton said. They train and work with players to make sure they have all the necessary skills before beginning full contact practice and competition.

Five skaters per team are on the track at a time in roller derby. One person per team is designated as the Jammer, and is the only person on the team who can score points.

The players form a pack that skates around the track together. The Jammer scores one point for every opposing player they pass. Players who aren’t the Jammer try to block the other teams Jammer, while helping their Jammer get through the pack.

People who want to join have to purchase their own equipment, including pads and roller skates. Shelton said there is an initial investment, which is usually around $250. People have to make sure they have good equipment that will not wear out quickly or cause injuries.