Roller Derby: It’s For Sports Fans, Families, and Everyone in Between


Many perceive roller derby as face-punching, elbow-throwing, WWF-style theater – a perception created decades ago on Sunday morning television.

The goal then, just as it was in professional wrestling, was not necessarily to compete for audiences. The goal was to shock those audiences. Step into a local warehouse or auditorium to watch one of the hundreds of roller-derby teams popping up in communities throughout the country, and those old perceptions die pretty quickly.

Roller derby in 2012 looks a lot different.

Today, we follow a set of official rules that originate from the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), it’s no longer legal to throw elbows and punches.

Roller derby is a hard-hitting contact sport, just as football and hockey. Most contact sports have fans of all ages and even participants of young ages. We are required to wear numerous pieces of protective gear.

The Hellgate Rollergirls All-Star team.

Although major injuries do happen, it’s infrequent. A roller derby crowd enjoys a watching the jammer (the point scorer) get hit out of bounds to the ground just as football fans like seeing a game-changing quarterback sack.

In addition to misperceptions, some skepticism of the sport exists – some of it stemming from the fact that we’re girls. We like to wear tights, do up our make-up, and we have alter ego roller derby names. But that’s just all in good fun.

We practice multiple times a week for two hours at a time. I’m 32 years old and feel in good as shape as I was when I played sports in high school. Roller derby is the best of both worlds … entertaining with a competitive sports appeal.

Roller derby is one of the fastest growing sports worldwide. Interest is building quickly. The fan base is increasing. All around the world women and co-ed leagues and junior teams are emerging by the handfuls every year. Roller derby even has the potential to become an Olympic sport.

That’s why here in Missoula, we are lucky to have our very own roller derby league. The Hellgate Rollergirls have been in existence since September 2009, and we have successfully created our league into an official 501.3(c) non-profit organization.

It started out with just a few members building it from the ground up to now having over 50 members plus 30 some junior players and lots of valuable volunteers.

Come watch a bout or two and see what modern day roller derby is all about.


We hope you will join us trackside on Friday, November 9 when our all-star team takes on the Snake Pit Derby Dames from Coeur d’Alene at the Adams Center. The bout will start at 7 p.m. and will feature the Montana Super Skippers for your half-time entertainment.

Photos courtesy of Athena Photography.


KP enjoying Missoula's great outdoors

K.P. Nichols, a.k.a. Kill Pill, has been a member of the Hellgate Rollergirls since November 2010. She co-heads Bout Production with Tushie Galore, which means they are busy working on the upcoming bout at the Adams Center on Friday, Nov. 9th. Bout starts at 7 p.m. with $12 GA tickets, $6 for UM students with a griz card, and kids 10 and under free.

HGRG is always in need of volunteers for its bouts, which means you’d get into the bout for free. If you’re interested, email us at