CHICAGO — Jennifer Matlob, who patrols the mean streets of Englewood as a Chicago police officer, has seen all sorts of mayhem, including the aftermath of countless homicides.
It's only natural that Matlob, 34, needed some type of stress reliever, but rather than looking for ways to relax in her off time, she has found a more unconventional hobby: skating with the Windy City Rollers' Fury squad.
"I get yelled at for a living," Matlob, of Beverly, said. "The most chaotic thing is going to places where people have just been killed and families show up at the scene. People want to see their loved ones, but we have to keep the scene calm."
But since she saw an old-school TV show featuring roller derby girls four years ago, Matlob has learned to skate and become a full-fledged member of the Fury, which on Saturday will compete in the Ivy King Cup championship at the UIC Pavilion.
When she puts on the skates, Matlob goes by "Jailya Roberts," because as her husband and fellow Police Department patrolman, Ken Matlob, says: "Someone on her team said she was as pretty as Julia Roberts, but she's also a cop."
"She's just this beautiful woman, and she's a police officer that is dealing with so much crap that I'd never be able to deal with," said Matlob's Fury teammate Maggie Follis (aka "Janicide Joplin"). "She has no fear, which I love. She's just a complete badass."
Ken Matlob, who patrols Humboldt Park, said his wife made a "life decision" when she became involved with roller derby. After work, she practices three nights a week at the Rollers' training center on the West Side — a 45-minute drive from their home. During other evenings, Matlob takes CrossFit classes to boost her stamina and strength.
Matlob has become so committed to the sport that the right side of her body features a giant roller derby girl tattoo with her face covered by a Japanese "Oni" mask.
"The 'Oni' is a symbol of jealousy," said Matlob, a DePaul University graduate. "I used to be jealous of how amazing the other girls were at the sport. I put that mask on my tattoo because I wanted to be better than I was."
Matlob has improved a great deal. This year, she was promoted from a blocker to a jammer, which calls for skating around opponents to earn points.
The Fury's captain, Maureen Pylinski ("Ska Face") said of Matlob "You can hit her all you want, but she's going to keep coming back for more."
Matlob on Saturday will participate in her first roller derby bout since she broke her collarbone during a scrimmage in March.
The injury cost Matlob seven weeks on the sideline, but she wasn't going to let it prevent her from playing in the championship this weekend.
The Ivy King Cup is the Rollers' version of the Stanley Cup. The Fury faces another Rollers unit and last year's champions, the Manic Attackers, for the title.
"We have a championship on the line, and for the Fury, our legacy as a team is on the line," Roberts said. "Come Saturday, I'm going to give it my all. I don't care if I get hurt. I'm going to do whatever it takes to make sure my team comes home with the trophy."