The DuPage Derby Dames were originally started in late 2010 by then 19-year-old Megan Rosenberg (Mille Brawl). A resident of Chicago, Rosenberg found herself craving some fun and excitement to keep herself busy while spending time in the western suburbs. She noticed that the burbs didn’t have a roller derby league. Since she enjoyed the sport (and was a longtime fan of both the Chicago Outfit and the Windy City Rollers), Rosenberg decided to form her own league.
She found a home at the Aurora Skate Center and held a recruitment, but trying to establish the league proved to be difficult. There were some different opinions among members regarding the path that the league would take. Ultimately, in early 2011, the league split into two groups that decided to go their separate ways. One group remained at the Aurora Skate Center and formed what is now the Aurora 88s. The other group, still headed by Rosenberg, took a short hiatus before holding an open enrollment on April 27, 2011, at the Funway Family Entertainment Center in Batavia.
That date has since been considered the anniversary of the Dames. While there were only 15 to 20 women in attendance that day, it was just enough to get the ball—er … skate rolling. Among the group were some key players who helped develop the league in its early days. Millie Brawl, ThikiCole and Give ’em L would go on to serve on the DuPage Derby Dames’ Board of Directors.
Mortricia, who would become the Dames trusty head NSO, eventually enlisted the aid of Phil Doe, a referee from the Chicago Outfit. Having the assistance of a seasoned referee shed light on areas where the league needed more training. Unfortunately, those areas included everything. Many of the league members had shown up in April barely able to stand in their skates, much less roll forward. Of those who could skate, most needed help with proper stops, lateral movements and—most importantly—working as a team. Almost no one had even seen roller derby before, other than from the movie “Whip It.” While everyone had at least read the rules, and even passed the written test, much of it needed clarification.
At the time, the Dames did not have an experienced coach. The task of increasing training efforts was a daunting one. Adding to this pressure, the Dames also learned that due to a time conflict with a high school hockey team, they would no longer be able to practice at Funway. Despite these setbacks, the league carried on and even agreed to keep the commitment of a previously scheduled away bout in September. Fortunately, the league was able to find a temporary practice space at Lombard Skate Center, just in time to have a few scrimmages before the upcoming bout. Then, on September 10, 2011, the DuPage Derby Dames hit the road, ready to play. Not surprisingly, they lost spectacularly to the Southern Illinois Roller Girls by a margin of about 300 points.
The loss, though not unexpected, had a large impact on the fledgling league. Many skaters were discouraged by the experience and the uncertainty of whether or not the Dames would have a dedicated practice space. Several players decided to leave the league, many of them transferring to the nearby Aurora 88s. The members who stayed did their best to prepare for the next bout in November against the Dark River Derby Coalition in Quincy. Skaters who had only joined the league at an enrollment in August of 2011 suddenly found themselves moved up in the ranks and added to the roster.
Fortunately, the league’s plucky attitude carried them through what could have been a very difficult time. They reformed the Board of Directors, put more effort into fundraising and training committees, and at last found a home roller rink. The first practice was held on October 3, 2011, at Coachlite Skate Center in Roselle.
Ever optimistic, the Dames welcomed and encouraged new skaters, refs and NSOs.Their 2012 season kicked off on January 7 with an intraleague exhibition bout held at Coachlite Skate Center. Interleague games began in February and, while they started with a string of losses, the score margins decreased noticeably over time. The first win would happen on the road, with the Dames taking an 88-80 victory over the Decatur Derby Dames on July 7.
This win came right on the heels of the Dames’ expansion into two teams. The A team was named Uproar and the B team took on the name Onslaught. A C team, Outrage, would eventually be added in late 2014. The league’s growth, as well as a steady stream of victories, was encouraging. By 2013 the Dames applied to become members of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA).
Acceptance into the WFTDA apprenticeship program was announced on October 29, 2013. The Dames immediately began preparations towards full membership requirements. True to their plucky nature, this feat was accomplished in less than a year. The announcement that the DuPage Derby Dames had been accepted as full WFTDA members came on October 2, 2014. As WFTDA members, the Dames will strive to work their way up the rankings ladder, with hopes of someday becoming a Division 2, or even a Division 1 league.
Another exciting milestone was reached in early 2015 when the Dames were approved as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. This designation recognizes the league as a charitable group and allows them to receive unlimited contributions from corporations or individuals, which can then be passed on to recipients within the surrounding community. From the beginning, the DuPage Derby Dames have strived to be charitably active within the county and nearby areas. A portion of the proceeds from bout ticket sales are donated to pre-selected organizations that serve the public. The Dames also regularly volunteer at the People’s Resource Center of DuPage County and participate in various events and fundraisers for local and national charitable organizations.
Giving back to the community is just one small way the DuPage Derby Dames show their appreciation to all of the people who have volunteered their own time and resources to help make the league a success. The Dames could not have grown into such an established league without the support of their mascot, referees, non-skating officials, sponsors, photographers, various other volunteers and the roller derby community as a whole. Aside from being grateful to these generous organizations and individuals, the Dames are also thankful for the support of their families, friends and fans.