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Windy City Rollers Seek New, Safer Practice Facility

By Justin Breen | February 7, 2013 4:29pm
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DNAinfo/Jackie Kostek

HUMBOLDT PARK — The Windy City Rollers skaters have many names for the cement walls surrounding the track at their practice facility.

None of them are printable.

That's because countless Rollers have been injured — many times seriously — after running hard into the walls, which are just inches from the track.

The organization has used the Humboldt Park facility since its 2005 inception — and has been looking for a safer, more spacious one the whole time.

So far, the Rollers have struck out.

"This place is hazardous to our health, but most people come back and keep skating even though they're risking injury," said Rollers skater Vicky Andrews, a.k.a. "Molly Hacker," an Edison Park resident who shattered her right pinky in three places when hitting the wall on Dec. 12.

 The Windy City Rollers' current practice site has cement walls just inches from the playing surface.
Roller Derby
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During bouts at the UIC Pavilionthe next match is Saturday — there is 10 feet of open space on all sides of the track.

That isn't the case during practice, where there are numerous holes and dents in the walls from players crunching into them. (Team members asked the exact location of the facility be kept secret for safety reasons.)

Danielle Henderson, a.k.a. "Dani Get Your Guns," fractured her right tibia and fibula on April 26 after two players bumped her into the wall.

"I was so f------ angry," said Henderson, an Albany Park resident.

Kim Elsham, a.k.a. "Ruth Enasia," hyper-extended her right elbow over the summer when she lost her footing and braced her hand against the wall.

"My arm stayed there and I went forward," said Elsham, of Rogers Park. "It felt gross and it sounded gross, like twisting a drumstick out of the thigh."

Elsham said she made peace with the wall, but only after writing a message with an expletive where she was injured.

"I made a symbolic way of forgiving the wall for what happened," Elsham said.

Erin Karson, a.k.a. "Dinah Party," said as many as 140 players can pack the practice facility, which has about 7,500 square feet.

Eamon Daly, the Rollers' marketing co-chair, said the organization is looking for a building with at least 12,000 square feet, including 8,250 square feet of open space.

"We've been saving our pennies for over eight years now, so we're comfortable we can compete with other prospective tenants for the right space," said Daly, of Edgewater. "We've got the people and the passion. ... All we need is the right building."