The Derby Darlins Kalamazoo’s Roller Dolls0
If you are looking for an exhilarating evening of entertainment, seeking something to do with the whole family, or just want something unusual and outside the box, attending a Killamazoo Derby Darlins roller derby bout, might just be the ticket!
Believe it or not roller derby has been around since the late 1930’s and it evolved from marathon skating races on raised tracks- to competitions that emphasized skater collisions. A growing sport there are six teams including the Derby Darlins in Michigan. All of them are part of the 376 full member leagues belonging to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). This organization began in 2004 and established competitive regions, ranking systems for tournaments, and continues to help promote the ever growing sport.
The Derby Darlins, Kalamazoo’s womens team consists of a group of competitive flat track roller skaters by night that are professional women by day. Many of these successful women hold jobs as copy writers, teachers, scientists, business professionals, and stay-at-home moms, to name a few.
2016 marks the 10th year that they have been dazzling the Kalamazoo crowd with fancy foot work, expert blocking, and other smooth moves. The sport has steadily caught-on in community, which should come as no surprise. If there is something new and non-conventional to enjoy, Kalamazoo residents are there.
Caitlin Pasqualone, aka, Killie Holiday, Interleague Coordinator and League Co-owner, moved to Kalamazoo from east side Michigan in 2010. “When I moved across the state I joined roller derby as a way to make friends, get some exercise, and to scare myself a little!” said Pasqualone. “I didn’t know how to roller skate, so it totally worked!”
As a team the level of skill ranges from hockey players to marathon runners. Some players have been on skates since they could walk, others like Pasqualone, had never been on skates.
“Our goal as a sports team is to foster athletic development and personal growth among our skaters, juniors and adults alike,” she said. “Our goal as a member of this community is to become a beacon of tolerance, acceptance and unity while spreading the good word of flat track roller derby.”
The Derby Darlins has a variety of fans and audience from all over the area. “I’ve seen families, college students, bachelor/bachelorette parties, even corporate events show up The Valley to watch us skate,” said Pasqualone. “And Killamazoo has a junior team, ages 6-17 years old called the Killer Beez, so we can confidently say that we put on a kid-friendly evening."
According to Pasqualone, roller derby has been around for a while, and it was more of a spectacle than a sport, where the skaters who participated were more like characters than anything else, including the names they used.
“Derby names are an interesting thing," said Pasqualone. “Our chosen derby names represent the history of the sport in some ways.”
Choosing an original name is tough and some skaters have started using their given names - ultimately, it’s a really personal decision. Here are some of the Darlins names that are a play on words- Malice in Wounderland, Bicked Witch, Crash Test Dawnie, and Hil-de-beast.
“The Killamazoo Derby Darlins are a little of everything,” said Pasqualone. “Most of all, we’re your neighbors. We get up every morning and try to make Kalamazoo a little better. In the evenings, we skate our hardest to put Kalamazoo on the roller derby map. We all make it work.”