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Windy City Rollers Fri Mar 01 2013
When Bob Regan auditioned to be the announcer for the Windy City Rollers, he knew nothing about roller derby.
It was 2005, he said. He had just moved to Chicago after having spent a season performing as the mascot for the Cleveland Indians ("It's both fun and horrible at the same time," he said.). And then he found the Windy City Rollers.
"They popped up on MySpace," he said. "That's how long ago it was."
Little did Regan, who eventually took the derby name Bryant Mumble, know that the chance encounter in cyberspace would lead to an announcing gig that lasted 9 years and is still going strong.
Back in 2005, Regan said, the sport of roller derby was just coming into its own. And his announcing style, along with that of his former partner, Mouthpiece, reflected that.
"We were more jokey back then," he said. "It was more campy back then."
Regan said that while he still has to keep the crowd engaged, he also has to serve as a teacher because many who come to Rollers bouts haven't seen roller derby before.
"The average Joe on the street doesn't know the intricacies of the sport," he said. "I try to give a lot of color about the skaters. I try to keep the crowd engaged."
Regan said that while his announcing isn't technically scripted, the types of things he'll say during bouts don't vary much.
"I say the same things over and over," he said.
There's at least one thing, though, that Regan no longer does when calling a bout. One of Regan's pet peeves, he said, is when announcers simply exclaim, "Oooooooh!" without giving any explanation for why they did it. While that expression is natural when something exciting happens, Regan doesn't like it.
"It was one of the first things Mouthpiece and I broke ourselves of," he said.
With Regan's evolution as an announcer came an evolution in his fashion. Come to a Windy City Rollers bout and Regan will be one of the first people you notice, thanks in no small part to his suit - white and designed to look like the Chicago flag, complete with red stars and blue stripes. Regan said he got the suit in 2010 or 2011.
"It was my idea," he said. "I had been thinking about it for years."
Regan said that while he repeats himself a lot when calling a game, it doesn't mean his style is boring. He said he tries through his announcing to make the crowd understand that things can change very quickly in roller derby.
"I always feel like I announce for the comeback," he said. "Unlike other sports, you can come back from 60 points down."
The Windy City Rollers play their second round of bouts tonight at the UIC Pavilion, 525 S. Racine Ave. Tickets are $20-35 online or at the box office. Doors open at 6pm, first bout is at 7pm.
Photos by Steve Stearns