WESTMONT – Marthony Bert says she found roller derby while seeking an adventure – a new experience, an outlet, something completely different from her job as a special education coordinator and a mother of two.
“I just needed some time to myself – a night out,” she said. “I saw the whole roller derby thing as something fun that would be good exercise. But it is addicting, and it consumes you in the best way possible.”
In April 2013, the 45-year-old Westmont resident took the advice of a neighbor and enrolled in a roller derby exercise class in Oak Park. The weekly class taught the fundamentals of roller derby without any contact.
“It was a lot of fun and an amazing workout,” Bert said. “You meet a mixed bag of women of every race, age and size. But I soon maxed out on learning skills and fundamentals and I knew that I wanted more.”
She researched competitive and semi professional roller derby leagues, attending bouts with the Windy City Rollers, Chicago Outfit and the DuPage Derby Dames.
After Bert saw an Aurora 88s bout, she said “something stuck” and she decided to attend a team info night.
“What I found was a good group of people that I could relate to,” Bert said. “They are a fun bunch of women of all different education and employment backgrounds, ranging from 21 to 50 year olds. It seemed like a good fit, so I decided to give it a shot and try out.”
In October 2013, Bert tried out and was placed on the beginning green team. A month later, she tested out, swapping her green Aurora 88s jersey for a yellow one. It was not long before she was wearing a red practice jersey – the team’s final step prior to becoming bout eligible.
Bert made the Aurora 88s B-team and skated as a blocker in her first bout on July 26. Although the final score wasn’t what she had in mind, the experience was like nothing she ever imagined.
“We got absolutely killed, it was a complete nightmare in that regard,” Bert said. “Still, it was the most fun I’ve ever had.
“The funny thing about roller derby is, yes, it is super competitive and is often thought of as violent game, but it is the most cordial sport that I have ever witnessed. You shake hands afterwards and sometimes pose for photos with the other team.”
She now calls the Aurora Skate Center her home away from home, attending 88s practice twice a week and open skate at least once a week. In her free time, she often watches derby videos on YouTube or scours the Internet for useful tips or literature.
Bert also uses her Facebook account to post about her roller derby progress and any upcoming events.
While Bert concedes that roller derby has become a mild obsession, she said she would never let her passion intrude on her job or family.
“I love my job, I love my family and now I love roller derby,” she said.