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October 4, 2012

Did You Know?: Roller Derby

Christine Jackson

Christine Jackson (in foreground), associate professor of management, practices with the Lafayette Brawlin' Dolls roller derby team. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)
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Christine Jackson, associate professor of management, says she loves the adrenaline rush she gets from playing roller derby.

Jackson, known by her teammates as "Get Shorty," has been playing for the local roller derby team, the Lafayette Brawlin' Dolls, since October 2011.

"It's exhilarating," Jackson says. "At bouts I get nervous, excited and pumped up. It's weird to feel that way again at 37."

The season's final home bout for the team comes Saturday (Oct. 6) at Family Sports Center. The "veteran" team will play at 6 p.m. and the "fresh meat" team of newer members, including Jackson, will play at 8 p.m. The center is located at 3242 W 250 N in West Lafayette.

Roller derby is played on a flat track where teams work to score and prevent opposing points. Points are scored when a team's "jammer" passes the hips of the opposing "blockers." Blockers must work to prevent opposing jammers from passing while simultaneously trying to help their jammers score.

Although it is a full contact and fast-paced sport, Jackson says a great amount of strategy goes into the game from both the jammers and the blockers.

Jackson has been playing with the Brawlin' Dolls for almost a year. She first learned about the team from a flier and immediately decided to visit a game.

"At first I was hesitant to join because I'm in my late 30s and I'm only 4 feet 11 inches tall," Jackson says. "But I really loved everything about roller derby, and I've found that anybody -- regardless of size or age -- is welcome to play."

The team consists of more than 20 women between the ages of 18 and 40. Jackson says some of her favorite aspects of the sport include the camaraderie among players and the encouraging atmosphere from everyone involved; she finds the entire culture of the sport very supportive, and she has even received help and pointers from members of other teams.

Along with Jackson, several Purdue staff, alumni and current students play for the team.

At Purdue, Jackson's research topics include fairness in the workplace and team effectiveness. She teaches undergraduate, master's, and PhD courses in the Krannert School of Management.

Tickets for home games can be purchased in advance for $12 at People's Brewing Co., Von's Records, Harley Davidson and K. Dees Coffee & Roasting Co., or for $13 at the event. Bouts are family-friendly events, and children age 10 and under are admitted for free.

The team will be hosting a boot camp Oct. 14 for women interested in joining the team. Organizers are also looking for more referees and volunteers to help with the team and bouts. No skating experience is required to join. More information is available at www.brawlindolls.com and on the team’s Facebook page.

This is the first year Lafayette Brawlin' Dolls has had two full teams of players, due to the large crop of new skaters that have joined the team.

"Even if someone has seen us play before, they're in for excitement," Jackson says.

Writer: Rachel Florman, rflorman@purdue.edu