blocks, accelerate, abruptly change course, and squeeze through narrow and momentary openings in the wheeled pack. A roller derby "bout" is full of falls that make you wince, as well as displays of athleticism that make you cheer.
You're mostly wincing for the other girls, since the local league, the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes, is really good. ("Dime" refers to a "perfect ten," or drop-dead gorgeous gal.) The league comprises three teams: the C-team Ypsilanti Vigilantes, the B-team Arbor Bruising Co., and the A-team Brawlstars. Two recent home bouts in late July pitted Arbor Bruising and the Brawlstars against teams from the Chicago Outfit. Both local teams skated laps around their Windy City opponents, with final scores of 299-79 and 351-124, respectively. Earlier in July, the Vigilantes had walloped the Oakland Derby Diamonds, 297-121.
Watching the Dimes' agile skating, I assumed most members had been lacing up since a young age. Not so. "I was hesitant to join at first because I could barely stand up on skates," writes Spilli Vanilli, the Dimes' art and merchandise chairperson. She admits to having been a "wall hugger" at the league's open skate sessions before attending their Fresh Meat Boot Camp. "I was absolutely amazed at how far I came after a few short months," she says. Courtnasty hadn't skated for more than ten years before she helped found the Dimes in 2010. She is currently the Brawlstars' captain and head of training for a league that welcomes skaters of all levels and abilities.