Five Questions with a Derby Dame

by Chris Singer

This is the first in a series of profiles and interviews with the members of the Sick Town Derby Dames. 

Our first profile is of one of the fan favorites: the stunning and sassy Chelle F.U. Up.

Age: 40

Position: Jammer

Day Job: Human Resources and Public Relations for a small software company


What made you want to get involved in playing derby?

I remembered watching as a little girl. I was amazed at what these women did, and I always said I wanted to be a derby girl. Then derby disappeared. I had no idea it came back until I was at the State Fair in 2010 and a skater from Cherry City came up to me with a recruitment flyer. I was with my daughter and her best friend, and had just been talking to them about derby “back in the day” and how I wished it was still around. It seemed like a sign from above. They said, “Mom! You have to do it!” So I went home did a Google search for a league close to home and found Sick Town.

How long have you been playing derby? 

I went to a practice or two back in September of 2010. I instantly fell in love, but felt insecure and a little out of place because I didn’t know anyone. Sick Town didn’t have the New Skater Day program back then. However, I don’t really count this as when I started. I made the commitment to learning the sport and dedicating any free night I had to practice the very next month, in October. This is part of the story behind my number (#1010).

What’s been your favorite moment from roller derby?

There seems to be a new one each time we have a bout or event. If I had to pick one though, I would say when I passed minimum skills (meaning I could start scrimmaging and be in the bout pool). I was so hard on myself that day after trying out, thinking of all the things I could have done better. I didn’t leave my house for two days in anticipation of the “you passed or failed” email from the training committee. I was so scared to open that email. Looking back it makes me smile. When I read in the email that I passed, I screamed and hugged my daughter.

What makes roller derby such a great sport?

So many things! I’ve developed friendships with women that I never thought possible. I’ve learned to push myself, both physically and mentally, harder than I ever thought I could. My confidence is higher than it’s ever been, and I’m extremely proud to be associated with such empowering women. The fact that I get to skate and hit ladies is just a bonus!

What is like to have the little girls asking for your autograph after the bout? Did you ever imagine that playing derby would get you “fans” and “admirers like that? What do you think it says about the positive impact roller derby can have on young girls?

The first time I was asked for an autograph, I felt a little uncomfortable. I thought, “Why in the world do they want MY autograph?!” I realize then that I was now a role model to little girls, just as the derby ladies on T.V. were for me when I was young. It’s an amazing feeling to know you have made an impression on someone that could potentially remember you when they’re grown and with their own children.

I am so excited that Sick Town now has a Jr. Derby league for these young ladies to be a part of. My own daughter, Jory, joined two months ago, after finishing cheer season, and I have already seen her confidence sky rocket. I think if these young girls start at a young age, the future will be filled with stronger, more empower[ed] women who know they can do anything they put their mind to.