In 1952, Joan Kazmerski was 18-years-old when she made her professional debut with the Chicago Westerners in the National Roller Derby League. The Akron Beacon Journal recently told her story in an article called “Confessions of a roller derby queen.”
Remarkably, she had a pro career that last nearly two decades. Skaters earned between $7,500 and 25,000 a year – not a bad paycheck for the 1950s.
According to the Journal: “Kazmerski spent five years with the Chicago Westerners and two years with the Los Angeles Braves. In 1961, she joined the Texas Outlaws in the National Skating Derby Roller Games, a rival league. In 1965, she rejoined the roller derby as captain of the New York Chiefs, where she earned MVP and all-star honors.”
I have spent the last decade as a photographer for the Houston Roller Derby. It is a sport I have grown to love. Of course, roller derby was different than the modern day flat track bout. But, there are some similarities.