Three roller derby skaters lined up on the track
Atomic Blondie lines up with opposing blockers in roller derby

Rolling Through Adversity

Katrina Browning, also known as Atomic Blondie number 313, is a dedicated mom who embodies both strength and resilience. She has a deep passion for roller derby. Her derby name, “Atomic Blondie”, stems from her childhood nickname, Blondie, given by her mother. She added “Atomic”, inspired by the film “Atomic Blonde” featuring Charlize Theron, to craft a fierce alter ego for the rink. Her number, 313, holds special significance as both of her daughters were born on the 13th.

Her journey hasn’t been easy. In 2023, Browning was diagnosed with breast cancer, which prevented her from attending the first part of the Columbus Terrorz season with her team. Her recovery began with a lumpectomy. After this, she begged her doctor to give her the summer to rejoin her Terrorz teammates.

A roller derby jam with blocker defending
Atomic Blondie helping her roller derby pack defend (photo by Christina Cochran)

“Luckily,” she explains, “I didn’t have to do chemo or radiation.” Her teammates were supportive, encouraging her to attend when she felt up to it but also to prioritize her health. In October 2023, Katrina had a full mastectomy. She made a full recovery and continues to do what she loves—being Atomic Blondie in the derby rink. When asked what roller derby means to her, she explains that this group of women is like another family to her. “I can talk to these ladies about things because they’re out there living out their aggressions on the rink too!”

Born and raised in Franklin and a financial worker for IU Health, Katrina Browning became involved in roller derby after undergoing bariatric surgery in early 2020, right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. She began attending outdoor boot camp classes at the local fitness studio, Sweat Shop, with a friend who encouraged Katrina to join the Terrorz.

Reflecting on her school years as a “rough and tumble” kind of girl, Katrina found roller derby to be a perfect fit. She attended her first derby bootcamp in the summer of 2021, where she borrowed gear, put on skates, and began learning the sport’s rules and techniques. Despite early challenges, including falls and a twisted ankle, Katrina’s love for the camaraderie and excitement of the sport drove her to persevere.

Smiling roller derby skater
Atomic Blondie smiling for the camera (photo by Christina Cochran)

“Different leagues have different qualifications,” Katrina explains. The team is comprised of skaters of varying skill levels, from seasoned veterans with over a decade of experience to newcomers still learning the sport. “More than anything, getting involved takes determination and the openness and patience to try something new,” she emphasizes.

When asked to describe roller derby using one word, Katrina said without hesitation that it is “empowering.” “Never judge a book by its cover,” she says. “No one would ever guess that a lot of these people are involved in roller derby, but they get out there and skate and knock people around.” The sport builds confidence, supports weight loss and fitness, and ultimately empowers those who participate.

Browning’s greatest inspirations are her daughters. “Our roles are reversed. They played volleyball, softball, one of my girls cheered when she was little, soccer… it’s full circle. They now come and cheer me on. They’re seeing me as a single mom, going back to school, having a full-time job, going through breast cancer, and still going out there and having the time of my life. It’s letting them know that you can’t let anything stop you. Things can certainly slow you down, but don’t let it stop you.”


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