“Hi i’m Sweat ‘n’ Bullets” was my introduction to the Rome Rollergirls (RRG), the town’s only roller derby team. After narrowly losing their last bout against the URGE from South Carolina they are getting ready for the Pensacola Roller Gurlz at home in the Roller World skating rink located on Calhoun Hwy in north Rome, August 4th. With smart skating and dedication they will win, but the final score is only one factor that goes into a great roller derby.
Another factor is providing entertainment for an eager audience -not to forget the staple sports institution of the Rome Braves and its State Mutual Stadium, but the Rome community has several sports-centric undertones and regularly spectate on a variety of venues. Roller derby satisfies the town’s more alternative tastes.
While the women of RRG participate in an alternative game that does not mean their dedication is any different. They practice for three hours the day after their home bout and maintain regular mandatory practices throughout the week. As a non-profit organization RRG receives no extra compensation for their wins or bruises; rather ticket sales are split between them and Roller World. This only covers team travel costs and rent for practice space.
While brutal on the knees, one Derby Husband told me, “A lot of girls either didn’t get to play a team sport as a kid or were able to play soccer, hockey, and volleyball in high school; and this gives them the opportunity, as adults, to go out and do a physical team sport.”
It takes all types to make the RRG team, and I understood the sport’s different attitude after I met a few of the players with names like ‘Amber Graves of Slain’, ‘Gin ‘n’ Jukes’, ‘Heidi Gloom’ and ‘Just A Girl’. I also understand why they told me suicide seating is the best. Located on the edge of the track suicide seating keeps the spectator at the edge of his seat. This thrill makes sense. One of the RRG expressed her like of barreling through the opposing team at high speeds, especially if they egg her on. I have seen her do it and take down a few opponents in the process; but remember: roller derby is played with ten girls swirling around a tight oblong circle on top of tiny wheels.
As one can imagine the RRG are a close-knit family of bruisers who dole out group hip checks instead of hugs. Their love for each other, fans and visiting team is reserved for the “family style” after party held at various locations around Rome. It was at one of these after parties where I talked to Saul, their coach, who explained that many of his players are mothers and hold down full time jobs while participating in the sport. Saul also mentioned that moving forward with the season the RRG will focus on the less fortunate as well as themselves. RRG have an eleven month schedule from January to November and there is little time for off-season community work. During past seasons their off-rink activities included rummage sales where a portion of the money raised benefited the March of Dimes and other prenatal care charities, which give the team a noble cause to play a physical game. Just an additional factor to see a great roller derby and the city of Rome.
Click here for the Rome Rollergirls Facebook page