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Meet the Kick-Ass Women of the Texas Banked Track Roller Derby

See why TXRD is arguably the sport’s toughest league

Inside the roller derby league austin texas

TXRD plays on a banked wooden track. Leagues that play on banked tracks are a kind of homage to roller derby's roots in the 1930s and '40s.

Drew Anthony Smith for Rolling Stone

We caught up the “derby girls” late in the TXRD season, and flying elbows have taken their toll. 

Saturday night’s big bout featured the Putas del Fuego (whores of fire) and the Holy Rollers, who fielded a lineup heavy on replacement players, since their roster was decimated by injuries. In front of a raucous convention center crowd of nearly a thousand, the Rollers kept the game tight, before the Putas finally pulled ahead, thanks in part to quick passing by Knockout, the Putas’ jammer (a point-scoring position.) Here’s a look at what it takes to be Texas tough.

Drew Anthony Smith for Rolling Stone

Greetings From Austin

There’s a slogan you see a lot of these days in Austin: “Don’t Mess With Texas Women.” Though that phrase doesn’t refer to derby, exactly, it certainly applies

Drew Anthony Smith for Rolling Stone

Stretch Before Practice

Our roller-derby deep dive start in a sweltering warehouse on Austin’s south side, where the “derby girls” slam each other against rails, throwing elbows, and hip-checking each other while skating around a banked wooden track. But first it starts with some much-needed stretching.

Drew Anthony Smith for Rolling Stone

Starting Line

“[Playing on a banked track] looks cooler, and when you hit hard, people fly through the rail. I still want to see that, even after skating for seven years,” says Doublewide.

Drew Anthony Smith for Rolling Stone

Wipe Out

Since the banked track heightens gravity’s effect on the game’s play, it brings bigger hits, harder bumps and messier wrecks. 

Drew Anthony Smith for Rolling Stone

Tough It Out

“If you’re not ready for the sport physically, you’ll know, because you’ll get injured or worse, broken,” Doublewide explains.

Drew Anthony Smith for Rolling Stone

Injuries

Most derby careers don’t last very long, as concussions, hematomas, blown-out knees and busted lips take a toll.

Drew Anthony Smith for Rolling Stone

Big Crowds

The big Saturday night bout is in front of a raucous convention center crowd of nearly a thousand and features the Putas del Fuego (whores of fire) and the Holy Rollers, who fielded a lineup heavy on replacement players, since their roster was decimated by injuries. 

Drew Anthony Smith for Rolling Stone

Women in Charge

“We’re owned and operated and run by women,” Knockout says. “I’ve never really been in a space with that freedom. You just don’t feel like you’re being judged for anything. … You get to forget about everything for two hours and you hit your friends – and then you hug it out and then you go drink together.”

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