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DeKalb County roller derby team has first bout against Aurora

AURORA – Bri Kness may be a stay-at-home mom but on the skating rink, she’s Brawl Burner.

The Sycamore resident joined 14 other players on the DeKalb County women’s roller derby team known as the Barbed Wire Betties for their first bout.

The team was created only a year ago and achieved their goal of competing against another team within that time. 

“This has been a year in the making,” Kness said.

The Barbed Wire Betties faced off against the Aurora 88s on Saturday at the Aurora Skate Center. The players strapped on their helmets and roller skates for an evening of speeding around a hardwood floor and shouldering their way through a pack of players determined to fend them off. 

The amount of work the team put into training for the bout was immense, said Andrea Drott, the team’s
captain also known as Ruby Bruiz-Her. Without the help of the skaters on the team, the bout would not have been possible, she said. 

“I think it’s amazing we skated,” Drott said. “We made it out alive, and we had an amazing time.” 

During the bout, five players from each team raced around the track to help their one jammer score points and block the other teams’ jammer.

The jammers try to fight their way through each team’s blockers through several laps and score points each time they do.

While the Barbed Wire Betties managed to tie with the Aurora 88s at one point in the bout, they eventually lost with a score of 128-94.

But the score didn’t matter for the team. 

“It feels like we got out there and played our hearts out,” Drott said 

Even though the team didn’t win, they did meet some goals they initially set for themselves for the bout. Holly Both, president of the derby’s league, said the team wanted to have a lead jammer in their first jam, which is a two-minute period in the bout. 

For Both, she managed to keep her focus during the bout and not let herself become overwhelmed by everything that was happening. It was something she had struggled with before. 

“You just slow down and say ‘Okay, this is the position I need to be in and I need to block,’ ” Both said. 

In order to train for the bout, the team practiced three times a week and two hours each session.

They built their endurance to make sure they could skate the whole bout and perfected their skating techniques.

Kness heads the training committee and helped develop the fresh meat program that intensively trains newcomers for 12 weeks. 

Joining the team was a way of staying in shape and connecting with others in the team, Drott said.

She joined the team in November and hadn’t skated in 10 years. The support from the team is amazing, she said. 

“The time that we give to each, it kind of touches the heart,” Drott said.

As the Barbed Wire Betties eagerly await their next bout, they also are looking for a new venue in either Sycamore or DeKalb that can house more spectators.

Their next fresh meat program for newcomers will be July 21 and in November.

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