Roller Girls

I’ve been hearing for a few years about the Rocktown Rollers, a local roller derby team. I’ve known a couple of ladies who have been part of it, and I’ve wanted to check it out, but it seemed like I had rehearsal during every one of their home matches. When I found out that they had a home bout right before I got back into rehearsal, I decided we should go there.

Petra decided before we even had breakfast that she was not going to like it and that it sounded boring. I told her tough, we were going anyway. I did invite her friend Emmy, in an attempt to make it more fun. Emmy has read the Roller Girl graphic novel, and was over the moon at the idea of going to a real live match.

Later she said, “It was SO BORING.” Lies.

It took us a while to figure out what was going on, exactly, but it was a lot of fun. I thought it was like full-contact skate racing, and that’s part of it, but there’s more to it. Each team has two players (“jammers”) who start at the back of the pack and get points for moving forward through it. The other team members are playing both offense and defense, trying to clear a path for their jammer and block the other team’s jammer.

The Rocktown jammer has a star on her helmet and she’s trying to get past all the women on the right side of the picture.

It is a full contact sport. They can shove into each other and try hard to push the jammer out of the track or knock her down. Some people took very hard falls during the bout. The teams also make walls with their bodies to try to prevent a jammer from passing, and seeing the way they shared their weight in a group was very cool. The geometric shapes of their bodies and the strength of them all together was mesmerizing.

The kids got very into the aesthetic of the event–glam/grunge, kind of. Some women had sparkly shorts, lots of them had stickers all over their helmets, cool colors in their hair, and crazy makeup.

They all have derby names, too, some of which are pretty funny: Sadie Masochist, Bad Mom, Problematic Peanut…

The event was very family-friendly. They had a half-time race where little kids pushed derby girls around the track.

At the end, the kids got to help pull up the tape, which Petra said was the best part.

The next bout is March 23. I’ve got rehearsal, but I highly recommend checking it out.

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