Who are the Albany All Stars?
The Capital Region's first flat track all-women's roller derby league, the Albany All Stars began in 2006 with six members and two teams. After six years, the league has grown to over 40 members, has a dedicated staff of referees, NSOs, and volunteers, and calls the Washington Avenue Armory home.
What is Roller Derby Anyway?
In 1935, at the height of the Great Depression, America's first "spectacle sport" was born.
Invented by Leo Seltzer, roller derby originally simulated cross-country skating, with participants furiously circling a track approximating the distance between New York and LA.
As skaters became faster and more adept at lapping the track, occasional crashes would occur as they tried to pass those ahead of them. Like any great promoter, Seltzer soon realized these collisions were the most thrilling part of the game, which he tweaked to maximize the carnage.
Two teams of five skaters now circled the pack, with each team sending out a "jammer" to skate around and lap members of the opposing team. Derby became a full-contact physical sport, with elbows, body-checks and fights galore. And the fans loved it.
In locations as diverse as New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Raleigh, Austin, Seattle, Kansas City and the Cayman Islands, a new generation of fierce female athletes is paying homage to the energetic, explosive traditions of derby past, while updating them slightly for a more sophisticated, modern audience.
With a post-feminist, punk-inspired DIY (do-it-yourself) ethos and a hearty helping of raunchy rock'n'roll, this ain't your grandpa's roller derby. Gone are the co-ed teams (in favor of "red hot, girl-on-girl action"). Traditional "time-out" penalties have been replaced with a spin of the much-dreaded "Penalty Wheel," which dispenses wild consequences, from spankings to spontaneous karaoke, for fouls committed during play.
With The Albany All-Stars and other start-up leagues around the country determined to revive this outrageous, crowd-pleasing sport, a nationwide roller derby revolution has definitely begun.
* Derby history courtesy of the Gotham Girls Roller Derby League of New York City