Roller Derby Madness

Sadist knows what derby is all 'bout


Sarah Szigeti/Contributing Photographer

Brooke Ethridge, second from the left, rounds the track during the Home Double Header. Ethridge's team, the Cresent Wenches, faced off against the Acadiana Good Times from Lafayette, La.


Brooke Ethridge of The Big Easy Roller Girls competed in her last home bout of the year, the Home Double Header. At the event, held Oct. 15 at the University of New Orleans Human Performance Center, fans packed the stands and cheered on their favorite derby girls.

Yet when she’s not hip-checking her opponents, Ethridge is an English professor at Loyola University.

 The Big Easy Roller Girls, boast themselves as “the only all-female flat track derby league in the Greater New Orleans Area.”

The New Orleans league, which is part of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, founded in 2005 shortly before Hurricane Katrina, consists of two sub-divisions, the Crescent Wenches and the All Stars.

Ethridge, known by her skater name “Sadist Hawkins,” is a member of the Crescent Wenches.

According to Ethridge, her boyfriend introduced her to the world of roller derby after he discovered the sport at its original venue, Mardi Gras World.

“In their first bouting season after Hurricane Katrina, going to see the Big Easy Roller Girls felt like actively supporting not only the sport but the city of New Orleans,” Ethridge said.

The couple was friends with Kate Parker, known on the track as Cherry Pi, who helped her get acquainted with the team. Since then, Etheridge has been deemed one of the stronger defensive players with her hip-checks and side swings. This season, her fellow skaters appointed her as co-captain.

Ethridge explained the tryout regiment as a six-month to one-year period. They equip the skaters with basic skills, improve their speed and build their endurance so they know how to give and take hits.

Etheridge isn’t the only professor commands the track. Tulane professor Andrew Warren spends his weekends traveling as an announcer with the derby girls.

“I was impressed that the sport could encompass such a large scope of people and promote strong, independent women who compete against each other in such a friendly environment,” Warren said.

The announcer describes “his” roller girls as physically intimidating, not just from their height with skates but also their daunting makeup and outfit. He also pointed out that roller derby isn’t meant for everyone. It takes a certain type of woman to compete in such an aggressive sport.

“You can be as pretty as you want. But if you don’t play roller derby, no one gives a f—,” Warren said.

Sarah Szigeti can be reached at [email protected]


Brooke Ethridge, English professor, right, kneels awaiting the jam start whistle during the Home Double Header on Saturday, Oct. 15 at UNO. (Sarah Szigeti/Contributing Photographer)