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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘We’ve had to completely rebuild’: Roller derby team makes post-pandemic return

Brianna Cook
Gnar Gnar Jinx prevents Dog Pile from completing a pass in sparring practice.

When Delaney Smith was 18, a roller derby game played by ICT Roller Derby, now called Wicked City Roller Derby, was advertised in her home town of El Dorado. This was her first introduction to the Wichita team.

Smith, who now lives and owns a roller skating shop in Wichita, later took an introductory class held by the team.

 “The newbie class is an eight-week course,” she said. “The team comes in and teaches you the basics of roller skating and then the basics of roller derby.”

Roller derby is played on a round track with a five-person team. Each team has four players called blockers and one jammer. The jammer scores points for their team by passing the other team’s blockers and they try to stop this from happening. 

Smith plays primarily as a jammer but has experience with both roles. This reliance on teammates creates a comradery among the team.

“I just feel like a better person,” Smith said. “I feel like I’m more level-headed. I feel like I’m more confident, and I’m happier having this big group of people that I can trust.”

While Smith has gained a lot from the sport, it has presented its challenges. COVID-19 stopped the team from playing and nearly emptied their roster. 

“When we were really going strong as a team, we were going all over the United States. Before COVID, we probably had 20 people and then post-COVID it was myself and one other person, so we’ve had to completely rebuild the team from scratch,” she said. 

The pandemic held one unexpected advantage for the team, however. 

“COVID, because of TikTok, exploded roller skating in general,” Smith said. “We’ve tried to use that to our advantage to grow the team.”  

Wicked City played their first game in three years on July 15 against the Kansas City Roller Warriors. Their next game will be Nov. 18. They also continue to run the beginner classes that brought Smith into the sport.

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About the Contributors
Ainsley Smyth
Ainsley Smyth, Reporter
Ainsley Smyth is a reporter for The Sunflower. She is a junior pursuing a bachelors in journalism and media production.
Brianna Cook
Brianna Cook, Photographer
Brianna Cook is a second-year photographer for The Sunflower. She is a sophomore biology major from Wichita, Kansas. When not taking photos, Cook enjoys leather working and after graduation, hopes to work for the park service. Cook uses she/her pronouns.

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