For five years, Jasmine Styrczula has been the receptionist at Black Hearts Hair House, a Lakeview salon that boasts it is fun, hip, and all rock n' roll; its stylists can transform your look from modern conservative to totally punk.
Styrczula, 25, as her alter ego Lola Blow, is a jammer/blocker for the Chicago Outfit, a roller-derby league founded in the fall of 2007 that brags it is a democratic, not-for-profit organization run by the skaters and for the skaters.
The Chicago Outfit is an all-female, flat-track, roller-derby league dedicated to contributing charitably to other non-profit organizations. The group is part of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association ( WFTDA ) Apprentice Program.
Styrczula is class, sass and dignitypersonally and professionally.
"I love everything about derbythe exercise, the fact that it's an aggressive contact sport for women, and being a part of a team," said Styrczula, who lives in Roscoe Village. "We are a not-for-profit organization run by the skaters for the skaters. We strive to keep a positive female community and donating to charities all over the world while, in return, giving you the best roller derby experience you have ever had."
Chicago Outfit skaters are in their 20s, 30s and 40s, although the majority are among the younger mix. There are students, teachers, professionals and more. "Basically, if you left our whole league stranded on a deserted island, we could pretty much build an empire with all of the great things these girls do," Styrczula said.
Nine of the skaters are gay, including Styrczula.
"The Chicago Outfit is all over the LGBT community," Styrczula said. "We have always been called one of the 'gayest derby leagues' in the whole country. Many of our girls skated in a nationwide team called the Vagine Regime, which consists of queer roller derby girls around the country. I would say half of the girls on that original team were from the Outfit. We also skate in the Gay Pride Parade every year. It's actually one of the most exciting events that we take part in.
"The Outfit has it allbi, queer, lesbian, you name it. Without them, we would not be who we are today."
And that is, a proud skating group of Chicagoans that this season faces such national opponents in home meetsat the Windy City Fieldhouseas teams from Minneapolis ( May 15 ) ; Columbus, Ohio ( June 5 ) ; Indianapolis ( Aug. 14 ) ; Sioux Falls, S.D. ( Sept. 11 ) ; and a double-header against Kalamazoo, Mich., and Lafayette, Ind. ( Oct. 9 ) .
"One of our major goals this year is to become a part of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association," Styrczula said. "We have been doing everything we can to become a nationally respected league, and I feel as though we have been doing a great job so far. I have the confidence that we will show other leagues around the country just how awesome we actually are. We can't wait to be able to play tournaments and be ranked regionally and nationally. I also feel like our constant goal is to keep being a league that is close to one another, respects each other, and would pretty much do anything for each other. It's the Outfit's style. We are kind of like a little gang, minus the unruly acts of violence."
So how does the Chicago Outfit differ from the Windy City Rollers?
"Well, we are an all travel league," Styrczula said. "The Windy City Rollers also have a travel team, but they have teams within their league that play [ against ] each other during their home season. We like the feel of having a smaller league that only plays other cities. I think this keeps us all much closer to each other and keeps our fans happy by bringing in new teams to play [ against ] . I would hate to play against some of my own teammates. The Outfit is also more of an underground 'rough around the edges' type of league. We all have a little gangster in our blood. We are also a not-for-profit organization, while the Windy City Rollers are an LLC."
The Outfit raises funds for many charities, such as local facility the Howard Brown Health Center.
In 2009, the Chicago Outfit donated $1,115 to Ignite the Spirit, an organization dedicated to raising money to support Chicago firefighters and their families. Other bouts raised funds for Huntington's Disease Society of America.
"The amount we donate is directly proportional to the number of fans who buy tickets and the amount we make over production costs," Styrczula said. " [ Since ] ticket sale numbers vary from bout to bout, we can't always promise we're going to be supplying the charity of choice with a check for some huge amount. We are realistic about our financial expectations, so we do what we can to promote the charity not only at the bout itself through announcements, program ads, and informational booths, but also when telling people to come to the bout itself.
"A common line among our skaters trying to sell tickets is, 'Hey, even if you think you can't come to the bout, you should buy a ticket anyway. Money will go toward Ignite the Spirit, which is this really great organization. Have you heard of it?' And after that conversation, even if the person still declines the purchase of the ticket because they have an irrational dislike for the sport of roller derby, they still walk away with the knowledge of Ignite the Spirit, maybe something they are more interested in supporting."
Added Code Adam, a referee and general manager for the Chicago Outfit: "I don't know exactly, but we raised a great chunk of money for some amazing charities [ in 2009. ] "
The Chicago Outfit will be fundraising in 2010 for such charities as Ignite the Spirit, Family of Moxie Mayhem, Derby News Network, Help Tequila, Girls Rock! Chicago, and Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network ( RAINN ) . They also will be skating together in the American Cancer Society's Walk and Roll Chicago on May 16.
"The 2009 season was very successful," Styrczula said. "It was much more successful than we thought it would be. We worked really hard to get that undefeated season, and it sure showed."
Things look just as optimistic for the 2010 run.
"We have so much fun playing roller derby, and we can definitely tell that our fans have just as much fun watching it," Styrczula said. "Our league consists of beautiful, athletic girls [ who ] will kick the crap out of our opponents. If that doesn't sound fun, I don't know what does."
Added Jennifer Stoodley, aka, Jennie Lee Von Slaughter: "Lola Blow is one of the most admired skaters on our team. She blocks so hard and is an awesome jammer. This versatility is part of what make her so great at derby; she can do whatever the team needs from her. Besides being a great skater, Lola has such a positive attitude and is always encouraging her teammates. Personally, she has been a huge derby inspiration. Watching Lola skate makes me want to work harder in hopes of someday being as skilled as she is. Lola works hard to be as great of a skater as she is, and she's always there to help other skaters on the team improve too."
One of the top Chicago Outfit skaters is Sweet Mary Pain, who also is the head coach and one of the group's best jammers. And, she is a student, studying to be a doctor.
Another Chicago Outfit standout is Smashley Destructo, who is a pivot, "and boy you do not want to get hit by her, [ or ] you will seriously go flying across the track in mid air. Believe me; it's happened to me more than once," Styrczula said. Smashley also is a grade school teacher.
"The Chicago Outfit really takes pride in being a different kind of roller derby league," Styrczula said. "We are more than just a team; we are a family and I love that. Also, even if we don't win every game, we will always win the after party, so come party with us after our games."
For more about Chicago Outfit, go to www.chicagooutfitrollerderby.com .