The world of professional roller derby has been steadily progressing for nearly 15 years now, and it has produced some extremely exciting and memorable plays and players over the years.
From six-foot-plus blockers to nimble jammers, or absolute characters who imbue their own idiosyncrasies into everything they do both on and off the track – there are more than enough legendary players to fill a few articles. However, here we’ll be dealing with just three. Each one of these ladies stands out for their achievements, as well as their brilliant showmanship and media skills.
Nicole ‘Bonnie Thunders’ Williams
Probably the most famous roller derby player of all time, Bonnie Thunders has been featured in many mainstream publications and has been regularly called ‘the LeBron James of roller derby’. The star jammer of New York’s Gotham City Roller Girls for many years, Bonnie won the first ever Roller Derby World Championship in 2007 and then a record three more after that. In the 2012 final, she scored 178 of her team’s 233 points – smashing the scoreboard at the absolute highest level of this high-octane sport.
In 2017, looking for a new challenge, she moved to the upstart Rose City Rollers of Portland, Oregon. You can guess what happened there. Yes, Bonnie promptly helped her team to win another world title – adding one more trophy to her already impressive collection. And at the age of 36, she’s showing so signs of slowing down just yet.
Samara ‘Lady Trample’ Pepperell
This New-Zealand born skater has twice won the Most Valuable Player award at a major championship – both the World Cup for New Zealand in 2013 and at the World Championships in 2017. There she demonstrated her on track skill with a series of crushing performances, helping her Australian team, Victorian Roller Derby League, to their first World Championship title. She reportedly chose her roller derby pseudonym based upon the Disney movie The Lady & The Tramp, and it has suited her so far as she’s trampled over most of her opposition on the way to the top of this exciting sport.
Sarah ‘Sexy Slaydie’ McKemie
At 6’1 and physically imposing, Slaydie is one of professional roller derby’s most feared blockers. In 2011, she won both the national roller derby league with the Gotham Girls Roller Derby All-Stars and then also the World Cup with Team USA -not bad going for a year’s work. She credits her unyielding athleticism and resilient technique to her background in other sports from a young age, including basketball and soccer. All three share similar aspects as contact sports, especially when specialising as a blocker. In fact, Slaydie is well known in the sport for brushing off and continuing to play with injuries that might down almost any other skater, including a fractured leg in 2015 and a broken nose in 2011. Hardcore!