This sport’s roots are in entertainment, but it still hurts…

| January 27, 2022 | 0 Comments

ROLLER DERBY player Mojo Mayhem (Harper Lawrence) and dad Metallikyle (Kyle) after a recent competition.

Think rugby’s tough? Try playing it on roller skates.

Welcome to the world of ladies’ banked-track roller derby, where players go by names like Skatey Perry, Speedy Wonder and Princess Slaya.

“Everyone has a derby name,” said Mojo Mayhem, a jammer for the Los Angeles-based Derby Dolls Juniors’ All-Star travel team.

Accompanying those derby names is a free-for-all fashion that includes fishnet stockings, neon fingernail polish and smeared eye shadow and lipstick, but the bare-knuckled glamor is emphasized by plenty of shoving and physical contact.

“Getting into character takes a lot,” admitted Mayhem.

Queen of the Track

Roller Derby is one of the few sports whose origins are purely American. Since its inception in Chicago in 1935, the sport has generated its own culture and terminology. One of the more indicative terms is Queen of the Track, which refers to a practice drill where players attempt to knock each other down or off the track. Once a player falls, she can no longer participate in the drill.

“I haven’t been injured too seriously in competition,” said Mayhem. “I’ve sprained a few things, but track burn (rink rash) is the most common. That’s not fun.”


Mayhem lives in Koreatown and is a high school sophomore. She’s been a Derby Doll since she was seven. Her mother, McCall, was in the league then, but had to give up Roller Derby after an appendectomy.

Mojo Mayhem’s teachers and fellow students know her as Harper Lawrence. Some of her interests include acting, volleyball and yoga, but when people learn about her derby background, they’re sometimes surprised.

“I don’t come off as a tough person,” she said.

Roller Derby is her life. She’s an All Star player and competes for the league travel team. They call themselves DDX (Derby Dolls Xtreme), and they’re the best of the Los Angeles league’s junior players (ages 7-17). Every year, DDX makes its annual pilgrimage to whatever city is hosting Battle On The Bank, the Super Bowl of ladies’ junior Roller Derby.

MOJO MAYHEM blocks out an opponent.

Full contact

Roller Derby’s original version was more theatrics than sport. Fights were staged, and team score and outcome was scripted. Not so with today’s version. The DDX skaters play full contact and are athletes, intent on winning. There is no predetermined victor.

“That’s a fairly common misconception,” said Mayhem.

There are two styles of Roller Derby: banked-track and flat. Flat tracks can be set up easily on any surface and cost less than a banked-track. That’s important. Starting a league can be expensive, and most are DIY, which means operating funds come from within via ticket sales, donations and fundraisers.

Family support helps, and with Mayhem, there’s plenty. Her father, Kyle, is a league referee, or “Zebra” in derby terminology.

“We’re also known as Enforcers,” he explained.

Kyle’s derby name (yep, even refs get in on that action) is Metallikyle, and he insists he shows no favoritism during a competition.

“I don’t call bogus penalties.”

Mayhem laughs at this. “Well, there have never been any hard feelings afterwards,” she said.

Empowering girls

Derby Dolls centers feminism within athletics and through community, growth and leadership opportunities. It’s about empowering girls.

“Come out as soon as you can,” stresses Mayhem, regarding youngsters who are interested in participating. “Roller Derby includes everyone. Body shape doesn’t matter, nor does culture. We accept all.”

If your child is interested in joining Derby Dolls, visit the website or email them at

Tell them Mojo Mayhem sent you. Maybe I’ll see you on Feb. 26. I’ll be a Bleacher Creature (fan) at their next competition. I even have my own derby name — Jimzilla!

By Jim Kalin

Tags: ,

Category: Entertainment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *