October is National Roller Skating Month – so it’s a great time to get the entire family rockin’ and rollin’ with year-round opportunities for beginners to pros alike. Skaters can head to the nearest rink and roller skate alone or in groups, without being part of an organized team or league. But for those into competition, roller derby – which originally began as roller skating races – has evolved into a popular contact sport.
“Anyone who wants to skate for fun should look into playing roller derby,” says Cheyenne Riggs, the 2023 president of Twister City Roller Derby in Oklahoma City. “We offer recreational and competitive play, as well as beginners’ classes, which focus on the fundamentals of skating and playing roller derby. They are open to everyone.”
As the weather cools down, skaters can also enjoy the great outdoors.
“Some parks have cool skate ramp parks or sidewalk trails to skate,” says Laura Hale, manager of Midwest City’s Star Skate. “Scissortail Park has a long, smooth concrete path that is fun to skate in Oklahoma City.”
Established in 2006, Twister City Roller Derby is Oklahoma’s largest and highest-ranked roller derby league with two competitive teams. The derby’s flagship team, Victory All-Star Squad, features the league’s top talent and travels nationwide competing for rankings. The B team, Tornado Alley, features up-and-coming athletes and travels primarily around the region for competitions.
Star Skate offers competitive roller derby teams that practice in its Midwest City and Ada locations, plus a competitive in-line speed skating team in its Midwest City venue which competes around the country.
“Roller skating has risen and fallen in popularity over the decades,” says Riggs, who has noticed a sharp increase in roller skating interest, and a slight uptick in roller derby interest, since the pandemic.
“Adult skate nights have always been popular,” seconds Hale. “We have been scheduling an adult night at Star Skate in Midwest City over the last two years, and it has been steadily building in popularity. We have popular disc jockeys who come in to play fun music just for these nights.”
Both Hale and Riggs tout the health benefits of skating, spotlighting cardio, burning calories, building strength and balance, and positively impacting mental health. Skating forms friendships, camaraderie and community as well. And parents see a big plus in getting their kiddos away from technology and video games.
“We encourage skaters to start from the basics,” says Hale. “Learn your balance and start with small steps. In our ‘learn to skate’ lessons, we teach proper falling techniques for preventing injuries, and how to stay safe on the skating rink. Helmets are used for our competitive speed skating team. All skaters are welcome to bring in and wear padding.”
Riggs continues: “We take safety very seriously at Twister City Roller Derby. We require all participants to have full gear, which includes a helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, wrist guards and a mouth guard. We also have concussion protocols in place, as well as a system for determining whether or not a new skater has enough skating proficiency to safely join full-contact practices.”
Main image cutline: Twister City Victory All-Star Squad skater Kiernan Cobb plays during the Twister City vs. Assassination City bout. Photo courtesy Free2Solo Photography