Crushing It


Junior Zahara Latson at a Roller Derby practice.

Mary Boyle

The sounds of plastic wheels race across the floor. The wild cheers of an audience scream in her ears. She’s focused on her goal, making sure the opposing jammer doesn’t get the point. This is the life of Diamond Crusher, or as Langham Creek knows her, junior Zahara Latson.

Latson is a blocker for the Houston Roller Derby Jr. team, which is exactly what it sounds like, she blocks the opposing teams jammer from scoring points while helping their jammer score. A jammer is the person who scores the points by passing the hips, the hips of the blockers, and for each completed lap, they score a point. 

“When I was very, very little my family used to always got to roller rinks for family reunions,” Latson said. “I got my first pair of roller skates when I was seven, my mom really wanted me to start roller derby because she thought it would give me a back bone, I was a very…nice child, I was overly giving.”

You can start roller skating whenever you want but the Jr. league has age limits of 7 to 18, but if you are 18 you will probably be aged out very quickly. There is also a limit of how many people you can have on your team; which is 15. Latson’s team usually has 3-4 people on jammers and 10 people on walls, which are the blockers. Walls are blockers that lineup to stop the jammer from getting through. There is typically one jammer and five blockers out on the course at a time.

“I feel like you need to be a hard worker and very determined,” Latson said. “You need to have a team mindset all the time because if you are not working with your team there is no way that you will be able to be successful as a team. You need to be a hard worker because there is a lot of dedication that goes into roller derby. You need to be tough and very aggressive.”

If you are of the male gender and have a dream of playing roller derby, don’t fret, because contrary to popular belief it is not an all girls sport. There are men’s teams so men can play as well.

Steve Beard Photography
Houston Roller Derby Jr. team