Roller derby equals freedom, fun and a good fight.


Roller derby equals freedom, fun and a good fight.


As if it was 1970 again, roller skate clad ladies are again running laps around a skating rink, or on the paved escapes of childhood. And they’re right in your backyard.


These are the Arbuckle Derby Darlings, equipped with personalities, goals and an outlet for women in search of an opportunity to let off some steam ... in a good way.


“I’m not really a tough person. I like the toughness of it,” said Felicia Smith, 17. “I like their style and the sport’s really exciting.”


The Arbuckle Derby Darlings are rounding up members to join their newly formed roller derby team, with the goal of competing in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association against teams from across the southwest. Some girls are still in high school and will turn 18 soon, in time to make the league minimum age. Others are twice that age, but just as eager to attack. The team is in its infant stages with most members still learning the rules of the game. The Derby Darlings are going through the recruiting process, as it takes six months to a year for a team to start competition.


Amy Allsup, the founder of the Derby Darlings, sees the team as a great escape for all ages.


“It’s pretty aggressive, but it’s an outlet for women to let out their aggression in a positive way,” said the Seattle native and avid roller derby fan. “It’s a huge stress reliever.”


Most if not all of the girls have no prior experience in roller derby, but like Whitney Hatley said, they’re “ready to learn.”


“It was something I watched on the Internet and I was super-excited about the chance to do it,” said the 25-year-old Ardmore native, who was handed a flyer for the Derby Darlings at work.


 “There’s not a lot to do outside of work and school. It’s something fun and different,” Hatley said. “Plus, you get in shape and it beats going to the gym.”


That’s the key platform of the Derby Darlings: Fighting obesity. The team is operating as a non-profit organization, and will hold an all-ages fundraiser at the Tivoli Theatre at 7 p.m. on July 10 entitled “Dark Carnival,” complete with everything from live music and tarot card readings to chocolate syrup wrestling. A portion of the proceeds will go to AIDSwalk, the nonprofit that builds awareness about HIV/AIDS and raises funds to support the work of nonprofit organizations that provide HIV/AIDS direct care, support services and education.


Roller derby isn’t just exclusive to women, either. In addition to its search for more players, the Darlings are looking for males to coach and referee games.


“It’s a way to get out, socialize and let out aggression,” Allsup said. “But it’s not just about exercise and stress, but the community of girls and people you meet.”


For more information, email, visit or search Arbuckle Derby Darlings on Facebook. Pre-sale tickets for Dark Carnival are $7 (general admission) and $15 (VIP/ringside), or tickets can be purchased the day of the show for $10 or $20.

Erik K. Horne