It was Saturday evening at the Twin Lakes Recreation Center, and fans started to fill the seats, cheering and shouting.
The competitors wore orange, white and black jerseys, a medley of stockings and tights and their numbers on their arms. Tijuana Mama, No. 50, sported a black and orange tutu.
They circled. They wiggled their ankles, darting back and forth. As they sped up, the coach blew a whistle and they came to a screeching halt — then they swiftly changed directions. Shifty McGee and Bobbi McGuillotine, bumping each other in practice, took a tumble.
Two teams make up the BHRG. The women warming up on the track were the Code Blue Assassins, and moments later they would be skating against the Lafayette Brawlin’ Dolls. In the second match, the BHRG Flatliners would play Evansville’s Roller Girls of Southern Indiana, or Rosi.
The Assassins’ Thigh Candy said hitting girls is her favorite part of roller derby.
The match began with a strong start for her team. McGuillotine, the jammer, who scored points by passing the rest of the pack, zipped by the Dolls’ jammer twice, earning 10 points, the first in the game.
Felanie Charges replaced her as jammer next, skating against Dolls’ jammer Dreaded Thunder. Charges’ blockers allowed her to take the lead.
Alison Baum, BHRG name Killer Kindness explained the team’s defensive strategy.
“A lot of us tend to booty block,” she said. “It takes more energy to lay a hit than to slow them down.”
The score rose to 16-0 and climbed steadily. After many jams, or scores, the Brawlin’ Dolls were on the board with a score of two to the Assassins’ 104. The crowd, which filled the bleachers and the “suicide seating” next to the track, cheered raucously.
McGuillotine was about to knock down Fierce B-Otch, but she counter-blocked and McGuillotine fell to the ground instead.
Then Psycho Socializer was jammer, picking up nine points for the Dolls and raising the score to 159-17. The Dolls’ Lewd A Kris threw a chunk of Tijuana Mama’s tutu off the track.
The game ended 216-25 in favor of the Assassins. Fans lined up around the track to give high fives to both teams’ players as they passed by. Then the next teams to play — the Flatliners and Rosi — began to warm up.
Thigh Candy autographed notepads for young fans. Game goers milled about and headed to the merchandise table, where they could contribute to jars for the home player they wanted to see receive a pie in the face at halftime.
Killer Kindness spread plastic on the ground for the imminent mess. With $62.50 in her jar, Naylor Coffenshutt had the honor of a cream pie in the face. White-faced, pie dripping off her chin, she gave a graceful bow to the crowd.
“Now that is sportsmanship,” the announcer said.
The sky outside began to darken over the tree branches. The second match started.
The score soared: 139-2, 148-2, 165-3 in favor of the Flatliners.
Then a player was injured. Rosi’s Chesty Copperpot was carried out on a stretcher headed to the hospital, the crowd giving her a round of applause. Announcers didn’t say how she was hurt, but she was holding her head as they wheeled her out.
The score soared again, and then another injury occurred. This time Rosi’s Sufferagette Kitty was down, but she managed to walk off the track to much applause. The game concluded with a score of 184-5, and the Flatliners won.
Baum said roller derby is like women’s rugby on skates, but without the ball. She said she loves everything about the sport. And, as the announcer told the crowd, injuries remind us that roller derby is a real sport. Injuries occur all the time, during matches and practice.
Of course, he noted, we should know this already from the athleticism, the skill and the speed. Jodi Helfrich, derby name Andrea the Giant, did not skate Saturday but came to support her team, Rosi.
“She’ll shout ‘puppies!’” her teammate Sammich (Sam Montgomery) joked. “She’s usually a quiet person, but Andrea can make anything sound ferocious.”
Rosi’s Rhandi Folsom, known as Molly Slam’Em, is usually a jammer. The position requires agility, speed and knowledge of derby, she said. While said she prefers blocking, her teammates push her to be a jammer.
“You’re the point scorer but also the target,” Folsom said. “I like having my girls with me.”
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