Are you looking for an activity that will leave your family screaming in the stands? Take them to see roller derby!
At home, Lorena Collins is a wife and a mother of two with a full-time job, but in the evening, she puts on her roller skates, helmet and protective gear to refine her hip-butting, side-stepping, speed-racing skills as a roller derby girl. When she’s on the track, she’s known as Lorena Block-it, and fans line up to cheer her on.
She says it’s one of the best feelings in the world to step on the track. “I feel like I am unstoppable, almost sort of a super hero,” she says.
She’s been skating for a little over three years with Greenville’s Derby Dames
and two years ago, her husband became their coach. It’s a total family affair. Her kids are always at the home bouts and depending on where the team travels, they often make a mini family vacation out of it.
I didn’t know what roller derby was until I saw Ellen Page in the movie Whip It (2009). I was intrigued. Then I started seeing posters and announcements for our local team, the Greenville Derby Dames around town and on Facebook
, and I had to go check it out. I took my family to see our local team in action, my parents included. Everyone had a great time cheering on the girls and laughing. My 10 year old couldn’t wait to go back. And I couldn’t wait to take her. Roller derby doesn’t discriminate based on age, height, size or color. It’s just a bunch of strong and fast women skating their hearts out and loving every minute of it. You can’t beat that for a feel good event on a Saturday night.
The sport’s diehard fans show up dressed in crazy costumes or carry homemade signs to cheer on their favorite derby girl. Good-natured audience cheering and heckling are encouraged. Skaters paint their faces, wear fishnet stockings and loud patterned socks or tights, and have funny names like Country Bruz Her, Conway Hitty and Herculisa on their jerseys. They bob and weave, jump, shove, bump and block their way around the track at crazy speeds, which leads to crazy crashes. Collins says she’s bounced her face off the floor a few times, got her finger run over and has had numerous bruises that would make you cringe, but that doesn’t stop her from lacing up her skates and getting back out there.
The first time we sat in the stands, we quickly realized that the fun was right on the track next to all the action. When I took my husband back, that’s exactly where we sat
Here’s how it works
Bouts, or games, usually consist of two 30 minute halves, though some teams prefer 20 minute halves. On the track there is one pivot, three blockers and one jammer for each team. The jammer’s helmet is marked with a star and the pivot’s helmet is marked with a stripe. A whistle blow signals the pack to begin skating. The pivot sets the speed out in front for her pack. Once the pack gets approximately 20 feet ahead, the jammers take off. The jammer must battle her way through the blockers and finally past the opposing team’s pivot. The first jammer to make it through the pack is the lead jammer and can call off the match at any time before the two minutes on the clock runs out by putting her hands on her hips. (They do this to keep the other team from scoring additional points.) Jammers earn points by passing members of the opposing team.
Check it out for yourself. Greenville Derby Dames next home bout is Saturday, Aug. 25 and it’s a double header. Doors open at 4 p.m. and the first whistle is at 5 p.m. Discount tickets can be purchased in advance
for $10 or at the door for $12 at The Pavilion (400 Scottswood Road, Taylors). Check the website
for their complete schedule.
Traveling to South Carolina soon or are you looking for a team close to you? Visit other Carolina roller derby team websites for bout times and dates:
Sumter Fly Girls
Upstate Roller Girl Evolution
Palmetto State Roller Girls
in Myrtle Beach,
Spartanburg Deadly Dolls
Richland County Regulators
and Florence’s Cirque Du Pain
Columbia also has a mens team, The Carolina Wrecking Balls
If you want more information about Roller Derby, visit Women’s Flat Track Derby Association website