Chicago hosts World Roller Derby where it all began


If you remember when you used to roller skate in the neighborhood or go to a local rink to roller skate, or if you like things retro, then mark down Aug. 19, when the World Roller Derby game will be played in south suburban Summit using 1970s rules and classic uniforms.

Joan Weston, L, of the Westerners and Cathie Read of the Bombers compete back in mid last century. Roller Derby Hall of Fame photo.
Joan Weston, L, of the Westerners and Cathie Read of the Bombers compete back in mid last century. Roller Derby Hall of Fame photo.

If you like the idea of celebrating a sport in the city where it began, then head to the former site of the Chicago Coliseum on Aug. 13

Roller Derby athletes and fans will be there to mark Chicagoan Leo Seltzer’s organizing the first Roller Derby Race where it first took place, Aug. 13, 1935.


Event Info

For the Aug. 13 celebration, go from 12:30 to 2 p.m. to Coliseum Park at 1513 S. Wabash Ave.

To see the retro roller derby game, a double header from 2  to 6 p.m., go to the Fleetwood Roller Rink, at 7231 W. Archer Ave. in Summit (south of Brookfield and I 55), Aug. 19.

Participants  will be wearing the classic uniforms of the Midwest Pioneers and the Chicago Westerners using the 1970s rules. There will also be a Junior Roller Derby game.

Tickets are needed and limited so contact Brown Paper Tickets, a World Roller Derby Week partner, at Time Hop.

”We want to look back at our roots, pay respect to its founding members and to the city of Chicago, to celebrate our beginnings and progress, and give back to the community through service,” said World Roller Derby Week organizer Cheryl Cryer. “The roller derby story should be shared broadly as we look to our future in our juniors, who will no doubt carry us further than we could ever imagine.” Cryer said.

The event is also partnering with the American Red Cross for a national blood drive. Donor Pledges will be available at the events.


Hall of Fame

Raise you hands if you knew there is a Roller Derby Hall of Fame. You can find out about the sport and who is inducted there by clicking Roller Derby.

It was housed at NYC’s  Madison Square Garden in the early 70s, closed. But the sport hasn’t disappeared. There are nearly two thousand women’s, men’s and junior leagues skating and competing.  The Hall of fame reopened in Brooklyn in the early 2000s and will be moving to southern California soon.



Author: Jodie

Longtime Chicago Tribune contributor for news and features. Travel writer for What's Happening, Great Lakes Boating, CBS Theater for Examiner and A&E for CBS

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