Home»Features»Cover Story»This is Roller Derby.

This is Roller Derby.

Join the Derby Demons The Middle Georgia Derby Demons are currently recruiting and training new members. “Since this time last season, our league has more than doubled, and we are still taking in new skaters. As a result, we’ve been able to make our team stronger and more competitive,” said Meredith. Looking for a little motivation? These gals don’t sugar-coat anything! “It’s going to hurt,” says Sweet Amnesia. “You’re going to want to quit, but if you just keep pushing, you’re in for an amazingly incredible ride full of the most inspiring people that you’ll ever meet.”

Pinterest Google+

“Every place that we travel to and the teams that come to play us are filled with smart, intellectual, independent, confident, ass-kicking women who inspire me and others to do what ever it is that motivates you to be confident in who you are.”
– Sweet Amnesia

TopShelf Liquor is a nurse. Kimchi Kollider an engineer. Wreck-It Rae is a financial manager by day. While the aliases are fun, the competitive sport of roller derby is much more than war paint and fishnets or “boutfit” as it’s been cleverly coined.

The Middle Georgia Derby Demons formed in April 2011, and the league is about to start it’s fifth season. The governing body of Roller Derby, the WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association), defines Roller Derby as “a fast-paced contact team sport that requires speed, strategy, and athleticism.”

Team practices are held three days a week, with the season running March-September and monthly games are held across the southeast. Skaters, Referees, Non skating officials and Volunteers all donate their time.

“I started to play roller derby because I was looking for a new challenge,” said Ilennis Heredia aka Tetanic Split. “I moved from Puerto Rico to Georgia and didn’t have friends or people that I knew when I moved. Because of that I thought that joining a team would be a great idea to get to know more people and establish new friendships. Roller Derby helps me every day with my confidence and my self esteem. I don’t think I could find another sport that I will love as much as I love roller derby!”

The team kicked off their 2017 season with a loss to the Sea Sirens of Tampa but quickly rebounded a couple weeks later with a win in the 5th Annual Cherry Blossom Brawl over the Southern Harm of South Atlanta. The season is currently underway, but the Demons are still recruiting and training.

“On May 13th we are hosting an invitational for local roller derby rookie skaters,” explains Public Relations Coordinator Michelle Meredith. “Since our training program is currently producing so many new skaters, we wanted to give them a chance to get some game play experience before they join the roster as an official Derby Demon. We opened the scrimmage up to other leagues in the southeast, since we know this is something that everyone could use. We’re making this event open to the public, with entry by donation. We’re also running a cleaning supplies drive for our partner charity, Crisis Line & Safe House. When we asked them what resources they needed most, they mentioned how much money they have to spend on cleaning supplies to keep their safe shelter in good shape for their residents, so we wanted to help with that.”

The DIY spirit that drives the sport allows roller derby leagues to create their own unique identities and adapt their structures to reflect their local communities. The Demons regularly give back to their community partnering with several organizations throughout the year.

“We are not paid, most of us have jobs or kids, family or both in addition to this. We play for the pure love of the sport. Any extra money made (above operating costs) goes directly back into the community, because we love giving back,” says Amy Mooney aka Rikki Ratchet.

       The Derby Demons return June 10 for their next home match. “We will host our next home game, competing against the Fort Stewart Rollergirls at the Gray-8 Skate Rink,” Meredith adds, “A portion of ticket proceeds from the game will be donated to Crisis Line & Safe House, so we’re hoping to turn out a big crowd!”  The Bibb Skating rink has recently been purchased, and will be undergoing renovations this summer, thus the move. But the team hopes to finish out their season at the Hawkinsville Road arena.

Other future matchups for the Derby Demons include: August 26 vs The Legiskaters of Tallahassee, Florida, September 16 vs the Soul City Sirens of Augusta, Georgia, and the 5th Annual Glammed vs Damned Halloween Mash Up which is open to skaters from all over the Southeast on October 21. Meredith finishes by stating, “Aside from our season dates, we’re just really excited with how much we are growing and developing as a league, and we’re in the process of becoming sanctioned as a member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, which is the largest international roller derby governing body.” Being a WFTDA member will allow the team to play in tournaments and against more high-ranking teams around the southeast.

“This sport helps women feel empowered and in control of your mind. Also it helps women to accept themselves as they are because there is no body type or specific personality for this sport. That is what makes it special,” said Heredia. “Everyone is welcome no matter if you have a lot of skills or none. Roller derby helps you to be stronger everyday, physically and mentally.”

Tickets and more information on joining the Middle Georgia Derby Demons can be found at their website: www.middlegeorgiaderby.com.

Meet a few of the players

Michelle Meredith
aka Trauma Splice
Day Job: Editor

Why do you play roller derby?
I’ve always enjoyed playing competitive team sports. Something about training and working hard with your teammates to accomplish a common goal is just really motivating and centering. After college, there aren’t very many opportunities for women to continue competing in team sports, especially in this region, and especially full-contact sports like this one. Derby is a really unique place where I can push myself to be stronger, hit harder, play smarter, and work better with my team without worrying about being too big, too loud, or too competitive.

How would you describe the roller derby community?
Supportive. Because most roller derby teams are owned by skaters (the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, requires that member leagues be at least 51% owned and operated by skaters), they usually run as non-profits and donate to charity. Derby leagues use our platform to give back to the community in every way we can, and that giving spirit is really obvious in the way we run our league and the way we play. There’s also a lot of support and mutual respect between teams. For example, we’re having an invitational scrimmage soon, and some skaters from teams we’ve played against or will play against soon are coming down. So the same person I tried to beat in the last game is going to be on my team for this game. And that’s how it goes when you’re part of the derby family.

What do you wish more people knew about this sport?
Like most women’s sports, roller derby suffers from inaccurate media coverage and other harmful myths and stereotypes. When I started telling people that I was on the roller derby team, I got a lot of mixed responses. Of course, lots of people were really excited and wanted to learn more about the sport. But someone also said I was “too thin and feminine” to play roller derby. Someone said I didn’t seem angry enough. And many people worry that it’s too dangerous. I wish more people knew how much we emphasize safety, strategy, and training. There’s a common assumption that we don’t put in work, or that we don’t have all the coaching and training and structure that every competitive athletic team needs to succeed.

Amy Mooney
aka Rikki Ratchet
Day Job: retired Air Force

Why do you play roller derby?
It is incredibly addictive. I live,eat and dream about derby.  If I am not practicing i am watching bouts on youtube, reading articles or researching new skills drills to help improve my game. Im consistently challenged. I can do things with my body i never thought someone as clumsy as me could accomplish.

How would you describe the roller derby community?
Family. All Skaters, Referees, Non skating officials and Volunteers and super fans are my family. Due to the military I have had to move several time over the past few years. I never have to worry because i have a built in sisters and brothers no matter where i go. I had even found a derby sister while i was deployed to southwest asia. I was air force she was navy we had never met before but we practiced when we could on the broiling (100 degree plus) concrete.  Your opponents on game day you may try to hit your hardest during the game but you hug each other after it’s over because they are family.  I love my teammates who support and encourage me to always give it 100%.  We share the track,hits,sweat, feelings of joy or frustration. You really develop a special bond with people who are there hip to hip with you as you get physical and push your body.

What do you wish more people knew about this sport?
Roller derby suffers from an image problem. We are not that version of staged spectacle that used to be on TV and is still sometimes portrayed that way. I’ve been told i “seemed too nice” or “not rough enough” to play derby.  We are a sport, we are athletes. Yes, we are a full contact sport but we have legal target and hitting zones, and rules. It’s called a hobby but it’s almost more of a lifestyle. We practice several times a week for several hours as well as work out outside of that so we can be better players. We are not paid, most of us have jobs or kids, family or both in addition to this. We play for the pure love of the sport. Any extra money made (above operating costs) goes directly back into the community, because we love giving back.

Debi Beckler
aka Sweet Amnesia
Day Job: Restaurant Manager

Why do you play roller derby?
I play roller derby because it is a high energy and very intense physical sport. I absolutely love the way that roller derby pushes me to my physical limitations and helps me strive to keep going. It is also an amazing stress reliever. Most people don’t have an outlet to hit stuff or express their frustration. I could be having a bad week, and going to practice where I can get on the track and hit my friends can change my day from bad to good really quick.

What do you wish more people knew about this sport?
We do not get on the track just to get on the track and throw a few elbows and trip a few people.  We are not just a bunch of riff raff girls trying to beat you up. We are physically demanding athletes. Roller derby is one of the fastest growing women’s sports in the world. We train like athletes to play the demanding sport that is roller derby.

How has roller derby evolved over the years?
Even when I started playing a little over 4 years ago, derby was still about: how big can we make our hits? How much of a showboat can I be? What is going to be my “boutfit” for this game? It was more for, how loud can we entertain the crowd? The overall mindset of derby in the past few years has changed into: what can I change to make me a better skater? How can I change my skating style to become a tough blocker or a jammer that is unstoppable? If you could see my personal social media page, it is full of athletes asking these questions and sharing video clips of amazing plays that happened in WFTDA sanctioned games. You can find a lot of women studying plays in their spare time that they can take to their teams and we can all work on it together because it works for our team. You are not going to find a lot of women these days that are in it for the skirts and fishnets. I don’t see a lot of women that are not in athletic wear anymore. Roller derby is recognized as a sport rather than a show, which is way you can find the WFTDA Championships on ESPN 3 this November for the third year in a row.

Previous post

Q & A with Mike Bont of Greensky Bluegrass

Next post

Artist Spotlight: Father John Misty