After more than two years, Fort Wayne Roller Derby is back on track, literally.

Following a loss to Muncie on March 7, 2020, the program was forced to shut things down during the pandemic. Now, more than 25 months later, they’re slowly getting back into swing of things with training sessions at SportONE/Parkview Icehouse.

“We’re going to go slow, because a lot of us haven’t kept up with our training,” club President Lahapa Brown said. “Plus, we have a lot of new people, so we don’t want anybody pulling muscles. We’ll go slow with the strength training, the cardio training, then the skate training.”

Training sessions will be held every Tuesday through May at the facility from 6-8 p.m. Anyone older than 6 years old is welcome to attend, regardless of gender or skating level: Just bring $7.

Starting Back Up

“It’s been on (the board of directors’) minds (to restart the club) at least the last six months,” Brown said. “Part of our delay was that we needed to find a new practice venue. Our league, both the Derby Girls and the Derby Brats, under previous names, have skated here in the past.”

The Icehouse replaces one of its ice surfaces with a multisport court for roller hockey through spring and summer. After some discussions with the facility’s management, the organization got the OK and are ready to go.

“There seems to be enthusiasm, so I hope that carries forward into people wanting to take that step to come out here and check it out,” Brown said. “The derby skills will slowly be introduced, but we really just want to make sure people have developed body strength, cardio, and the skating skills required to get into practices.”

The goal will be to get a season going again, but there are variables.

“The biggest thing is knowing we have a consistent practice schedule,” Brown said of finding a long-term facility to use. “Once we get that taken care of, it’s about getting a commitment from the skaters to continue to be involved, because there’s a line that you have to be at to make it financially viable.”

Needed Distraction

Regardless of finances, Brown said it feels good to be back.

“A lot of us went through some depression, just because we were instantly jerked out of what was our normal routine,” she said. “I’d be the first one to say it hit me, because (roller derby) has been a big part of my life for many, many years. To have it instantly snatched away like that was hard. It was different than ending a season, then going on a break, because everything was in turmoil at that point in time, across the world, including roller derby.”

There was a strong turnout at the first training session on Tuesday, April 12, and a lot of new faces will be relied upon. Brown said an ideal roster would include 15 players, which would allow for three rotations of five.

“We’ve had a lot of people retire,” Brown said. “We’ve had people get married and move away, join the military, go to college; just different things that take their time and focus. So, it was really unknown how many people we would have returning this year.”