The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

The Oracle

The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

The Oracle

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Wykurz’s dedication continues despite roller derby’s obscurity

From athletics to arts, South students have a wide array of talents and interests. Freshman Sammi Wykurz is the perfect example of this diversity. Her enthusiasm and involvement in roller derby is far from the ordinary but it is a sport she has fallen in love with and thoroughly enjoys.

Roller derby is a competitive sport that consists of two teams competing for the most points in each heat or “jam” (see graphic to the right for more rules).

Wykurz, who has been involved with roller derby since fourth grade, stumbled upon this sport by accident.

“I went to the skating rink to watch [my cousin] one time and I saw these guys competing on roller skates and I was like, ‘What are they doing?’” Wykurz said. “My mom talked to the coach and asked him about it. She kind of introduced me to it.”

Wykurz didn’t immediately take to the sport. The complexity of it requires it to become a game of strategy and the fast pace can often be hard to keep up with.

“I tried it out for two weeks and I didn’t like it whatsoever,” Wykurz said. “After a month of training, though, I loved it, it was my passion.”

According to Wykurz, roller derby is “not a popular sport”. Wykurz’s team is comprised of 24 high school girls from all around the Chicagoland area.

Though still widely unknown, roller derby is “the fastest growing woman’s sport in the country”, according to Sandra Levin, manager of Orbit Skate Rink in Palatine where Wykurz’s team frequently practices and competes against other teams.

According to Wykurz, the sport can become very competitive. This contact sport can become aggressive as blockers attempt to hinder the opposing team’s jammer. Players are required to wear protective equipment such as a helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads and a mouth guard.

“The first week I had a meet I broke my arm,” Wykurz said. “I’ve gotten my left arm broken twice, a sprained wrist and a black eye twice.”

Wykurz practices roller derby on Tuesdays and Thursdays for four and a half hours and on Sundays for three hours.

With these long hours and the amount of years she has known the girls, Wykurz feels her team has grown to be very close.

“I have sleepovers with them almost every weekend,” Wykurz said. “They’re like my family.”

Her friends outside of roller derby are very supportive of what she does as well, despite their limited knowledge of the sport.

“[My friends have] never been to a meet, but I’ve taken them to Orbit,” Wykurz said. “They’ve skated around with me. They think it’s pretty cool that I [roller derby].”

According to Wykurz, the enthusiasm and sportsmanship people have in roller derby is a huge part of what makes the sport so appealing to her.

“If you lose, it’s not really that big of a deal,” Wykurz said. “People kind of go along with it, you’ll do better next time.”

Wykurz sees roller derby in her future, hoping to join one of the more professional leagues that the city has to offer.

“I’ve done [roller derby] for so long and I hope I keep going,” Wykurz said.

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