ROCK N ROLLER
At 47 years old, redheaded Debbie “Red Rocker” Schweikardt says she’s done with the
drama that women half her age experience.
But she says every once in a while life still gets to her, and so every month she makes a legal excuse to take her frustrations out on women all in the name of sport.
Schweikardt is a roller derby captain with the pink- and black-clad Brutal Beauties of the Arizona Derby Dames sports league.
“I’m one of the oldest girls in this sport,” says Schweikardt, who isn’t paid for her participation. “Being a little bit older, you don’t take everything so seriously. Here I am hanging out with a bunch of 20-, 25-year-olds. I tell them (when they complain about life) that it’s not worth it. In three days it’s not going to matter. It’s nice to be on that side of it. But I always say I can beat girls up and not go to jail.”
The long history of roller derby dates back to the 1930s. In the decade following, more than 5 million spectators watched bouts in 50 cities throughout the United States. Today there are 336 leagues scattered throughout the United States. Schweikardt’s organization has five teams.
According to Schweikardt, in the past theatrical elements overshadowed the athleticism (think the WWE) in roller derby’s heyday, but says it has since returned to an aggressive, athletic sport.
“We always tell people, ‘This ain’t your grandma’s roller derby,’” the Jersey-bred athlete says with her boisterous laugh.
“Then, it was skating meshed with the WWE. There was a lot of stage stuff and fighting. Roller derby nowadays has morphed into an athletic, skill-based sport. Girls train hard. Some girls are doing it two to four times a day. It takes a toll on your body, but these are girls with short skirts and fishnets who beat the crap out of each other.”