I love bad-ass women. I do. I can’t help it. My favorite movies are Underworld, Aliens, Resident Evil, Hard Candy and anything else that has a tough, beautiful woman in it. My favorite climbing partners were girls. My best friend growing up was Shari O’Quinn, a bad-ass motocross racing, take no prisoners, punch boys in the mouth, stand up for anything she believed in – girl. So it is fitting that I married who I did. Laura is one tough cookie.
I’m pecking this out with my left hand as I am severely burned from a kitchen fire last night. I’ll write more about that later, but this is all about the New River Valley Roller Derby Girls. I wrote this a few months ago for the NRV Magazine, but I feel that it is worth posting. Enjoy! Go see these girls – it’s worth the admission.
This is no joke. The home jammer just lapped the opposing team’s pivot and blockers for the fourth time, amassing more points in the process. Jammer Jean is in the penalty box for throwing an elbow and the visiting team, The Queen’s Elephants, have fallen by two points. The blockers are desperately maneuvering to stay in a wall to keep the jammer from scoring any points. The home crowd is screaming loudly for their team and there are bruises, contusions and ripped fishnet stockings as the two minute jam ends with Mighty Muskateer repeatedly placing her hands on her hips to signal to the referee that it is over. The crowd goes wild as adoring fans, friends and family scream for their favorite skaters.
This is a brief fictional description of a moment in time in one of the fastest growing organized amateur sports in the country, Roller Derby. Roller Derby originated in the late 1800’s as a simulation of a cross country endurance race on roller skates, usually in two-person teams. The current formation, which is more of a contact style sport, emerged in the 1960’s in a style akin to the World Wide Wrestling Federation bouts, with the winner pre-determined. The focus of the sport at that time was more on the antics and characters of the performers. There is nothing fake about today’s iteration of the sport.
Roller Derby is now sanctioned by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) which maintains the league rules and scoring systems. The association was started in 2001, and now encompasses more than 400 leagues worldwide. According to the WFTDA web site, a league can be started nearly everywhere, as all that is needed is a flat surface suitable for skating and willing participants. The rules, just like any other contact sport, are intended to enforce safety to minimize injuries. Despite the rules and protective gear, these guys still get hurt! Deep bruises, sprains, friction burns, and scrapes are common and are proudly displayed on web sites and worn as battle scars. Broken bones are rare, but still occur.
Our New River Valley Rollergirl Team, named the Bruisin Burgs, was founded by Speed Junkie in 2007. They are still an apprentice team within the WFTDA, but are climbing through the ranks at a dizzying pace. During their bout versus Rogue on April 17th they demonstrated a team spirit that belied their relative youth in a league populated by teams with more experience and depth. Undersized yet unfazed, the Burgs dominated the rink. Rallying behind a devastating hit by Slingin’ Gritz on Rogue’s lead Jammer, Chatterbox and Quarter Pound Her utilized their speed and took advantage of the superb blocking by Seam Stressed, Bettie Lockdown, Acid Assassin, Speed Junkie and the others to slice their way through the opposing team, building an overwhelming lead of 111 to 49 by halftime! Rogue simply could not match the speed of the smaller, determined and more agile Burg Jammers.
These ladies, who become their aliases like Meen Kitty, Speed Junkie, Bettie Lockdown, Acid Assassin, Chatterbox and Smooth Operator, take this sport seriously. These are only a few of the members of our local NRV Rollergirl Team. They typically practice three nights a week, with a hectic schedule of seventeen bouts in the season. This is on top of their duties as mothers, students, working professionals, wives and combinations of all the above. They are a diverse group of women, ranging in age from 18 to 50. They are truly dedicated to this sport. They talk about why they do it, citing the stress relief of the full contact sport, the camaraderie of the team dynamics, the opportunity to compete, being active in the community, developing an alter ego (you get to be someone else!) and the screams of the crowd. This team is adored within the NRV, with hundreds of fans attending their bouts and chearing for their favorite rollergirl.
When interviewed, they cited the most difficult bout as one in which a team member, Seam Stressed, suffered a broken ankle and continued to skate. She was removed by the medics when they realized the extent of her injury. The entire team rallied around her and despite their concern for their fallen comrade, continued to compete. Interestingly enough, despite the intense competitive nature of the women and the sport itself, they rarely mention wins or losses when describing bouts or opposing teams. Instead, they describe how big the opposing team is, or how they are so good and what an honor it is to skate against them. They are a very humble group of athletes.
Despite their rough and tumble image and on the track ferocity, these women and men that are associated with the group are very active in the community, participating in community service and philanthropic initiatives to give back to their fans and neighbors. They participated in Radford’s Relay for Life (winning Best Campsite), are active in the American Cancer Society and participate in charity events.
Get yourself over to Adventure World, 200 Midway Plaza in Christiansburg and support our local rollergirls. Trust me; you’ll be screaming your head off ten minutes into the bout. Look up their schedule at www.nrvrollergirls.com, facebook keyword NRV Roller Girls.