CHICAGO - The Windy City Rollers (WCR), Chicago's premier roller derby league and nonprofit, is feeling the impact of COVID-19 on their sport. WCR's entire competitive season was canceled in 2020, and without revenue from ticketed events or rent relief options, the league is not able to maintain rent on the West-side practice space they've called home for more than 10 years.
WCR is a competitive, athletic sports league whose skaters, officials, and volunteers put on public bouts, learn to skate clinics, and travel the world representing Chicago in tournaments. WCR was formed in 2004 by Elizabeth Gomez and Kelly Quinn Mallozzi, and since its founding, more than a thousand Chicago women and non-binary folks have strapped on quad rollerskates and carried the league's legacy forward. "Even though it's been years since I've been part of the league," Gomez said, "I am sad to hear of the change. That space altered lives by providing a place where women could push themselves physically and mentally. They found a way to surpass what they thought were their limits, discover what they could do by teaching themselves, and formed lifelong networks of friends and professional relationships."
WCR must vacate their home by May 1, 2021. "I'll never forget finding that space, working with the police and Alderman to make it a safer area, and of course, bringing my kids there to witness the dedication and determination of women who were not afraid to try. The Windy City Rollers spent years looking for another place to call home but we always ended up back here," Elizabeth reminisced.
While without a home to skate in, the league will partner with local roller rinks to rent time until they secure a new facility which must house their 75' x 108' oval flat track. Gomez "...hope[s] that as we look to the future and the effects of COVID-19 on commercial spaces, that someone will help this league find a new home where they can continue building what a bunch of rowdy DIY fearless rebels started."
When COVID-19 rates reach 2,598 cases over a 14 day period in Cook County, WCR will be ready to hit the track again for their seventeenth season. Learn more at windycityrollers.com .