By MAGGIE GEBHARDT
Many have seen it on television -- women aggressively roller skating around a track as they dart their way to the finish line.
But a live competition or actually competing in a roller derby in northwest Kansas?
Danielle Wells, 37, Hays, is orchestrating the creation of a roller-derby league.
Wells, originally from Plainville, recently relocated back to Hays after living in Houston. It was in Houston her interest in roller derby initially sparked, but her love for skating traces back to childhood.
"It started from the roller skating aspect -- you know, the memories of middle school when it was cool to go to the roller rink," Wells said. "Who can skate backward? Who can skate better? That is kind of how it all started for me."
Wells said she went to her first game as a spectator and immediately knew the sport interested her.
"I just thought, 'I want to do this,' " she said.
After attending practices, Wells tried out for the Houston team and made it. At 33, she joined the league under her alter ego name, "TieDie Pixie."
"Up until that point, I was not an athletic person. I didn't play sports. I rarely exercised," she said. "It didn't matter. I saw roller derby and just knew it was going to be awesome."
Now back in Hays, Wells believes roller derby has the potential to catch on in the area.
"I really think Hays needs a team," she said. "I would just love to see it get up off the ground and sustain itself."
During the last several months, Wells has been reaching out to members of the community, trying to find anyone interested in helping her make the dream a reality. With the help of social media, she has connected with several individuals who have expressed interest in helping her form a league.
Wells and her counterpart are in the process of finding a space that will allow the league to skate.
"We have been looking at places, finding buildings and speaking with property managers," she said.
The women have also started a Facebook page under "Hays Roller Derby" to help generate interest.
"It has been really popular," Wells said.
There are numerous benefits that one can attain when participating in roller derby, Wells said.
"Exercise is an obvious benefit, but I don't think that it is most important," she said. "There is a powerful sisterhood that has formed in roller derby. You become family."
Wells said not only can one receive exercise and a sense of family, but empowerment is another self-gaining aspect of the sport.
"It's empowering for women. You will feel strong," she said. "This is our sport."
When referencing long-term goals, Wells explained she understands forming a league will be a process and will take a significant amount of time and resources.
"I don't have any huge plans," she said. "The first few years are growing years, and I know that."
Short-term goals are more on the mind of Wells as she continues to spread the word and reach out to interested participants.
"I would like to be able to have enough girls interested so that we can have a few exhibition games in Hays," she said. "To start off, we would divide into two teams and play against each other at equal skill levels."
Wells said it would take at least 20 participants to pull off an exhibition game. There are 10 players -- five per team -- on the track at once.
In addition to skaters, the league will require even more interested parties to be successful.
"We are looking for everyone at this point," Wells said. "We need skaters, obviously, but we also need sponsors -- private and corporate. Even if guys want to get involved, we need referees."
Volunteers to help coordinate events are necessary, as well.
"We are really going to need a plethora of people to get started and grab on," Wells said.
If interested in learning more about roller derby or for information regarding Wells' league, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Facebook page under "Hays Roller Derby."
A meet and greet at Al's Chickenette in Hays is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday.
"Hopefully we can get a few girls organized and just discuss the general parts of roller derby," Wells said. "We welcome everyone, whether you have skated your whole life or have never skated and are interested in starting."
To join the Hays Roller Derby league, you must be at least 18 years old. Quad (four-wheeled) skates, knee pads, elbow pads, a wrist guard, a mouth guard and a helmet are required.
"Eventually, we will build a fan base," Wells said. "For now, I just want to introduce Hays to roller derby."