Friday, May 16, 2008

The Rise of The Kansas City Roller Warriors

Awful Announcing posted yesterday that ESPN will be airing a special report on the revival of roller derby around the country on SportsCenter on Sunday.

With no insider’s knowledge of what this report will entail, my prediction is that either you’ll hear a great deal about Brooke Leavitt…or ESPN will miss completely.

Leavitt is one of three women who in 2004 started the Kansas City Roller Warriors league, which started its fifth season earlier this Spring.

Like her cofounders – Eanna Johnson and Mandy Durham – Leavitt works a day job (she’s a librarian) and practices and competes with her team The Knockouts on the side. Unlike the other competitors, she does this all with only one arm. At the age of 3, Leavitt lost her right arm from the elbow down in a school bus accident.

When the League launched in 2004, Channel 9 News in Kansas City profiled Leavitt. This video shows the early days when league members practiced on a basketball court in the Roanoke Community Center with pile-on cones outlining the track. One of the anchors even refers to roller derby as the ugly stepsister of Saturday night World Championship Wrestling from the 60’s.

Along with The Knockouts, today the Kansas City Roller Warriors consists of four teams – The Black Eye Susans, Dreadnought Dorothys and The Victory Vixens make up the other three. Leavitt’s team name is Dirty Britches – some of her other teammates include Princess Slay-ya and Hunt Her Ass Thompson.

During 2004’s inaugural season ticket sales for a single match topped out at 800. According to the St. Joseph’s News- Press Gazette, last season’s final match drew 2,200 fans – and league officials are hoping to draw up to 4,000 people for a match this year.


The rules of roller derby seem pretty straightforward. Each team has a jammer; and if you’re not a jammer then you’re a blocker. The object of the game is to get your jammer passed the other teams blockers, while stopping their jammer from passing your team of blockers.

The first match took place on March 19, 2005, check it out here:

An All-Star Team - that included Leavitt - from the league competed and won the Women's Flat Track Derby Association National last September in Austin, TX.

Check out the 2007 season re-cap video here and go to to learn more about the league.

And be sure to watch SportsCenter on Sunday when they’ll be looking at roller derby’s resurgence in place around the country such as Austin.

Kansas City Roller Warriors Links:

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