Twenty-nine years later, that girl had grown up to become Molly McFracture, one of the founders of the Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls.
“By the ’80s and ’90s, I was like, ‘Yeah, that will never happen. It would be so cool,’” McFracture said. “I even told the story about how I thought I could be a roller derby girl when I grew up, but I never thought it would happen, until 2005.”
McFracture and two of her friends, who would become known as Raven Furies and Truly F. Obvious, founded the roller derby club in 2006 after McFracture saw a live bout on a trip in 2005. They began with just six women and struggled to recruit the 14 required to field a team.
On Sunday, they watched as the Bleeding Heartland club, now 45 members, scrimmaged in a large warehouse rented from D & F Warehouses.
The roller girls have come a long way from the squad that practiced in an Ellettsville, Ind., elementary school gym. After members suffered a broken nose and a broken toe in the first meet in Kalamazoo, Mich., years ago, the Bleeding Heartland girls are currently ranked No. 13 in their region.
The team was the 135th to be formed in the United States, and not very many girls had seen roller derby when the team was formed. Times have changed, McFracture said.
“When there’s five or seven leagues in the country, there’s not a lot of people seeing it,” McFracture said. “But when there’s over 800 leagues in the country, it’s everywhere. You can’t help but see it.”
Richard (or Dick, as his friends call him) Smack, the official voice of the team, was a friend of the three original founders for more than a decade before the team formed. His voice had been on radio and in poetry slams but is now the soundtrack to the furious bouts that end in scrapes, bruises and sometimes broken bones.
“Radio is live, but this is live in front of an audience,” Smack said. “For me, it’s kind of a performance thing. I’m kind of playing a part, playing a role, but it is a sport, so I have to really call the game like I would a sport.”
Unlike the team, Smack has changed very little in appearance since the opening days of the club. In the first ever meet against Kalamazoo, he wore a sport coat he said he pictured Ron Burgundy wearing. On one of the first road trips to Nashville, Tenn., he walked into a Goodwill and spotted a bright orange suit coat.
“It’s been my uniform ever since. It was fate,” Smack said. “It’s volunteer orange. It’s fate because it’s team colors.”
The girls primarily wear black and orange as they play their bouts at Twin Lakes Recreation Center, along with varieties of striped socks, fluorescent leggings, short shorts and roller skates. These images, along with the competitors’ names, often come to mind when discussing roller derby.
Knock’R Down, a friend of the founders, played for a couple years and said names, from Motley Cruel to Harriet of Fire, carry different meanings for each
“Some people spend a long time trying to figure out what their name’s going to be,” Down said. “Some kind of get named in the ongoing events. Some people are very attached to their names, and some people are like, ‘Oh, it’s just a name, whatever.’”
Even though McFracture, Down and a number of other former players aren’t playing this season, they all watched and spoke excitedly about the coming season. The girls begin the action Feb. 4 at Twin Lakes Recreation Center for the B-Cup Roller Derby Tournament Challenge.
K-Shock, a Greencastle, Ind., resident who plays for the Race City Rebel men’s team in Indianapolis, said one doesn’t need to be a roller derby expert to have a good time at a bout.
“It’s exciting to watch, whether you know the rules or not,” K-Shock said. “You can go to a bout the first time and enjoy the hell out of it without even knowing what’s going on.”
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