KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After three years, the KC Roller Warriors are relaunching three hometown teams with new skaters and new names: the Midtown Misfits, the Strawberry Hellions and the 18th and Vines.
VOICE FOR EVERYONE | Share your voice with KSHB 41’s Caroline Hogan
The teams are made up of people who have been skating for years, and those who are new to the sport, like Liz Conaway.
When she steps onto the rink, she becomes: Helliot Rage.
"I don’t think that rage is a word that most people that know me would use to describe anything about me," Conway said. "But I feel like when I put on my skates, and it’s a very physical and full contact sport, I feel like I can just let it all come up and just really let all my anger and aggression out."
Helliot Rage is her alter ego that she adopted when she joined the league earlier this year.
Conaway felt a little uneasy in skates at first, but was welcomed in by her fellow teammates, as they took her under their wing.
"The community is so welcoming of people no matter where they’re starting," Conaway said. "We have people who have been skating for years, people who just joined this year. We’re at all different levels, and everybody’s just been so supporting and encouraging."
It's that dedication that kept the league alive after the pandemic, furthermore, helping them launch these new teams.
"It’s so great to see the tradition continuing, to see KCRW being discovered by new people," said Duane Cunningham, the Roller Warrior's longtime announcer. "It’s not just a great sport, it’s a great organization."
He watched the team suffer after 2020, and didn't know if it was going to survive. But looking at the league today, he's confident to say they're back.
"Little by little the crowd is building back up, the excitement is building back up, the players are taking the field once again," Cunningham said.
He hopes that these new teams will keep the tradition alive.
"I personally know so many people who’s life was completely changed by the sport," Cunningham said. "Who… evolved into a completely new person, a more confident person."
Conaway said that's how she feels, like a completely different person in skates.
"I never got into athletics when I was a kid, I never felt like I had a lot of natural ability or anything. " Conaway said. "Derby is a sport that people of all different bodies, shapes, sizes, abilities can get into."
She also feels a sense of belong, for both her and Helliot Rage.
"There’s no one type of person that fits in at roller derby," she said. "It really is like come as you are."