Rose City Rollers: Portland’s elite roller derby athletes

The Portland roller derby league is the largest in the world with 500+ skating members.

Sever roller derby athletes compete while a crowd looks on.

A team’s “jammer” (each wears a star on their helmet) tries to score points by lapping opposing team members.

Photo by Regularman Photography

Rose City Rollers “skate fast, hit hard, and defy stereotypes about athletes in women’s sports.”

Founded in 2004 by Kim Stegeman, Portland’s roller derby league offers an opportunity for people to find community, empowerment, and a full-contact sport to sink their teeth into.

Meg Patterson, the marketing manager for Rose City Rollers, told us the league is the largest in the world with 500+ skating members.

“What’s really amazing about the sport is there is a level of finding belonging for a lot of people who probably would have never seen themselves as any type of athlete,” said Meg, “or potentially for people who have encountered incredible social barriers to competing in sports. We have a number of trans and non-binary skaters who are members.”

The Rose City Rollers (RCR) league encompasses 17 different teams and programs, including four adult home teams, two junior derby programs, and a recreational program for skaters of all ages.

Competing at the national and international levels is the RCR all-star team — and reigning world champions, no big deal — the Wheels of Justice, along with their B-team component, the Axles of Annihilation. The Wheels of Justice are four-time world champions, second only to the Gotham Derby of New York City when it comes to championship titles.

So how does roller derby work? This one-minute video shows how each game, or bout, plays out. As for rules… RCR follows those outlined by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.

A blocker tries to prevent a jammer from passing through the "pack" while a crowd of onlookers look on.

Four blockers from each team try to protect their jammer while preventing the other team’s jammer from passing through.

Photo by Regularman Photography

This weekend marks the return of the Rose City Rollers’ three-day tournament, the Hometown Throwdown, for the first time since 2019. Teams from all over the world will be rolling in to compete Fri., Nov. 4-Sun., Nov. 6 at The Hangar at Oaks Amusement Park. Tickets are available online.

Learn more about joining a team or booking a mobile skating rink at a private event with the help of RCR’s Skatemobile.

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