DeKALB – On most days, Kimberly Pincombe takes care of her child, goes to work and comes across as the average citizen.
But for a few hours each week, she transforms into Ol' Skool ChopHer, the fearless leader of a tough group of women known as the Barbed Wire Betties.
The Barbed Wire Betties are a group of about 15 everyday DeKalb County residents who just happen to enjoy lacing up their skates and knocking down opponents as they skate around a rink at high speeds.
"It's all about woman empowerment," Pincombe said of her fledgling roller derby team. "It teaches young girls they can do anything. It proves when you fall you down, you can get right back up."
Pincombe's group took off in July after she posted fliers around the area asking women interested in starting a roller derby team to contact her. About 10 people started the original group; now the team is looking for more skaters of all skill levels as it works toward certification to compete in bouts against other area teams.
Michelle Judd, also known as Barbie Bomber, said she observed one of the team's practices before deciding to roll. She said it has become a confidence-builder, valuable escape and place to form strong relationships.
"I was a stay-at-home mom for six years," Judd said. "Even when I started working again, I felt like I needed something that was my own. This was for me and about me."
Now Judd is one of the women who has gone from struggling to skate to learning the basics of roller derby, such as falling properly and jumping while skating. The team has progressed quickly thanks to coaching from area teams such as the Leaf River Demons and Rockford Rage.
Barbed Wire Betties member Lindy Giese, also known as Mo Honey, said roller derby is a tight community where teams help each other get started and often become great friends off the rink. But the Betties plan to repay the Demons and Rage by knocking them to the ground as they skate next summer.
"Everyone is progressing by leaps and bounds," she said. "We're all getting very good, very fast."
While the team would like to start competitions by next summer, members said they are in no rush to get certified and want to bring skaters along slowly. Pincombe said the team has women between 18 to 40 years old and would love to see more interested residents come to see practices, which take place at the Kishwaukee Family YMCA Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 8 a.m.
She said it is important to give roller derby a try before committing to it because startup costs range from $150 to $200 to get equipment such as pads, helmets and skates.
"They don't need experience if they are brave enough and willing to dedicate some time," Pincombe said.
Those interested can contact the group at email@example.com or visit www.barbedwirebetties.com. The team will also be gift wrapping at Barnes & Noble on Dec. 1 and Dec. 9 for those interested in meeting the skaters.
"We're just a really fun, quirky group of girls," Judd said. "We all come from different walks of life and we all enjoy it."
How to join Barbed Wire Betties
Contact the group at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.barbedwirebetties.com Go to a practice at Kishwaukee Family YMCA on Fridays at 7:30 p.m. or Sundays at 8 a.m.