After an intense eight month 2008 season with the Blue Ridge Rollergirls, Asheville’s all-female roller derby team, I can’t help but feel a little lost and confused about what to do with all my free time during the off-season.
For folks unfamiliar with the sport, women’s flat track roller derby is one of the fastest growing sports in the country right now (it may be THE fastest growing sport, but I am too lazy to look up any sort of statistics). Most everyone is familiar with the dramatized antics of roller derby in the 70’s, but around 2000, there was a revival of the sport and it has blown up ever since. Drew Barrymore has even taken notice of derby and is producing a movie starring Ellen Page entitled, “Whip It,” which will come out next year some time. There was a reality show on A&E a couple years ago called “Rollergirls”, which characterized the lives of rollergirls living in Texas. Typical to any reality show, it displayed the drama that occurred between teammates but also during each episode, showed the fast-paced, hard-hitting action from real roller derby competitions. Probably true for many rollergirls across the country, when I saw this show, I thought to myself, “I am meant to do this.”
Several years later after moving to Asheville, I discovered we had a roller derby team of our own, The Blue Ridge Rollergirls. It was one of the most exciting days of my life. I went to practice the Monday after I found out about the team and have been a part of it ever since. Any rollergirl will tell you that once you join derby, if you’re into it, you’re really into it. It takes over your life in an unexpected way; it becomes an obsession. Since all roller derby leagues are grassroots types organizations, we run everything ourselves. We not only skate but are working together to run a business. We put together competitions (“bouts” is actually the correct term–like boxing) against different leagues, we run a Board of Directors, we fundraise, we do PR, put on events…meanwhile we practice three times a week during the season for 2 hours and drive one hour round trip to get to the rink in Hendersonville since we don’t have one here in Asheville.
After our last bout of the season on November 1st, the season is over until next spring. Already I find myself a little depressed, pacing around the house and eating ice cream while watching 90210 marathons. I wear derby attire (a lot of black, bright colored tights, leg warmers, and shirts with our logo) to inappropriate places and stick out just in attempt to strike up conversation and promote our league. I go out and party with my team mates, drink too much and talk about how much we’re going to kick ass next season. While we’re out, if we spot a girl at the bar with any sort of tattoo, piercing, or she just looks like she could knock the crap out of someone, we try to recruit her. It has also come to my attention that throwing blocks at parties does not quite have the same appeal as it does on the track, etiquette wise.
We still practice a couple times a week during the off-season and have events to plan which should keep me busy in between the drinking and ice cream eating. Fundraising is the main thing, since we are broke after giving the Civic Center all our money to reserve the dates we want for the 2009 season. We are having an End-Of-Season party on Saturday, December 13th from 6 until 11 p.m. at the Dragon Lady Salon if you want to check out all the derby debauchery for yourself.
For more information about the happenings of the Blue Ridge Rollergirls, go to our myspage page (our webpage is under construction) at: www.myspace.com/blueridgerollergirls