Providence Roller Derby Homes in on Empowering Women

Women’s flat track roller derby has grown incredibly fast — internationally for the past decade with Egypt, Thailand, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates developing their own leagues. ESPN3 carried the recent world championship tournament, which instigated many media discussions on topics ranging from feminism to transgender athletes.

In this spirit of community involvement, Providence Roller Derby has always supported local charities, often working with them at bouts. This year, PRD, also a non-profit charitable organization, intends to focus on women’s engagement within the sport while providing an outreach for young girls through organizations such as Youth Pride RI and a possible future junior league.

Yes, it is a contact sport, but the high levels of sportsmanship and safety are two things of which many are surprisingly unaware. The goal of derby’s women’s engagement initiative is to dispel outdated derby myths by educating the public through recruitment and neighborhood outreach, and by promoting personal stories through a series of upcoming interviews with the PRDtv project.

The Girls Outreach Program also is being developed to provide young girls in the community with a unique opportunity to build self-esteem and pursue athleticism with a Junior Derby Day. Junior roller derby is nothing new; there are dozens of leagues internationally recognized by the JRDA (Junior Roller Derby Association), featuring skaters younger than 18.

Perhaps the most notable charitable contribution PRD is making this spring is through Gored for Good, a collaboration with Amos House. “We love working with the derby organization – their enthusiasm and energy is amazing,” says Rachel Colaiace, event and communications coordinator at Amos House. The energetic event in question is a little like a 5K. In fact, it is a 5K – except that derby skaters will be chasing participants. Wearing horned helmets and drawing inspiration from the bulls of Pamplona, these derby ladies mark those they’re able to catch with (washable) red paint. Teams run the 5K or an obstacle course set up through the center of downtown Providence – or both. It’s followed by an after-party at Burnside Park in Providence.

Last year, this event raised over $125,000 to support Amos House and its programs to help the homeless and hungry in Rhode Island. This year, these no-BS Bulls are pointing their horns even higher.