Let Your Inner Rollergirl Out!

By Tina Lange (aka “Stevie Kixx”)

There aren’t many sports that openly embrace women of any age, size or fitness level. Roller Derby – around since the 1930’s – is one of the few. And oddly enough, roller derby is perhaps one of the most physical sports in play today.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with roller derby, it’s a contact sport, played by two teams of five members roller-skating in the same direction around a track. The game play consists of a series of short “jams” where the “jammer” for each team (think quarterback) scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. This is no regular sport by any stretch of the imagination. Roller derby players have their own “derby names” – a nickname used by each skater that typically reflects their personality – both on and off the track. And perhaps one of the most unique and memorable elements of this sport is the attire… it’s definitely the only sport where you’re likely to spot fishnets, severe face makeup and booty shorts racing around the track during a game.

You may be surprised to know that here on Florida’s Space Coast, the Molly Roger Rollergirls have been practicing and “bouting” for the past decade. Today, the team is a member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), and part of the international rankings for the sport.

The Molly Roger Rollergirls consists of members from ages 23 to 47 who have very normal “day jobs” – nurses, teachers, entrepreneurs, retired military vets, massage therapists… there’s no “standard” type of derby girl… we are all
extremely unique.

In the 1960’s and 70’s, roller derby was a bit of a theatrical sport – think WWE wrestling – where teams would race around a banked track and trip, punch and otherwise manhandle each other to gain advantage on the track. Dramatic falls, hair pulling, and plenty of fistfights were part of the “show,” which used to take place at Madison Square Garden in front of audiences of tens of thousands!

Today’s roller derby is a bit different. Real athleticism has been brought back into the sport, and – while all ages and ability levels are welcome – you will definitely increase your fitness, strength and flexibility levels by participating. Today’s derby has plenty of rules. There are no more “free for alls” on the track… players have – as with any regulated sport – a series of rules for game play that are meant to keep participants safe  so they can pursue long derby careers.

What’s perhaps the most unique thing about derby is the sense of camaraderie and community it creates. I’ve never witnessed a more connected, supportive group of people than those in derby. Derby has its own culture – and excludes no one.

Today, the rollergirls need our community’s help. The team needs more players and more fans!

“I think one of the reasons we don’t have more local women coming to practices and learning more about roller derby is because there is a fear of what the game actually entails,” said captain of the team Allyssa Stanley (a.k.a. “Weeble”). “Memories of the old-school knockdown, drag-out televised bouts may have women scared to try it out. But the truth is, it is a very safe, regulated, and super fun sport that all women should try. I can’t imagine a more empowering outlet for local women than derby.”

Stanley added, “I would strongly encourage any woman who wants to make new friends, get in better shape and experience a fun and exciting outlet to come by one of our practices and see what it’s
all about!”