Scantily clad women on skates beating each other up in order to score points against the opposing team? Yep, chances are you probably never heard of Roller Derby. If you have heard a slight mention of the sport, perhaps from the movie Whip It starring Ellen Page, you probably are not aware that Tampa has its very own league chalk full of badass women on roller skates. Collectively, the team is known as Tampa Roller Derby [TRD]. Tampa Roller Derby is the brainchild of Angela Kroslak, known in the derby world as Dee Bauchery, who, along with a small group of dedicated women, brought the league to life in 2005. The girls on the team come from all different types of backgrounds: there are teachers, hair stylists, psychologists, small business owners, tattoo artists, students, graphic artists, and everything in between!
Tampa Roller Derby consists of multiple teams. First off, we have the Tampa Tantrums, a.k.a. the best of the best. According to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), the Tantrums are ranked #8 in the South Central region. The best twenty skaters on the league are selected each year during a draft to comprise this all-star travel team. So, just how good are these girls? To answer that question, Little A (Alyssha Littlefield), a member of the Tampa Tantrums, made it onto Team USA and represented America at the first ever Roller Derby World Cup held in Canada last December. Oh, and Team USA won the world cup.
In addition to these two teams, the Darlins are comprised of three inter-league teams: The Black Widows, Cigar City Mafia, and the Switchblade Sisters. There is also a “pre-team” known as the Quad Killers whose sole purpose is to train girls interested in the sport.
So, how does derby work exactly? During a bout which consists of two 30-minute periods, two teams of five skaters go head to head on a flat track. Each team is comprised of a skater known as the pivot who sets the pace of “the pack;” three blockers, whose jobs are to guard the pack and a jammer who scores the points. The initial goal is for the jammer, the skater with a star on her helmet, to make it through the pack first, coming out in a position known as lead jammer. After getting through, the jammers then lap the pack, and again approach it from behind. Only this time, they score one point for every opponent they pass. This is where the fun begins, since the opposition is trying to block them, and their team-mates are trying to block the blockers, while also stopping the opposition’s jammer from passing them and scoring. Obviously, this can lead to hard hits, aggressive strategies, penalties, and skaters occasionally flying into the front row of seating!
Enough with all the talking and explanations, roller derby is even better to watch in person! Tampa Bay Roller Derby will kick off their 2012 home season by hosting a competition January 28th, 2012 in Tampa, Florida at the USA Skateplex. The Tampa Bruise Crew (Tampa’s B-level travel team) will take on The South Florida Roller Girls from Fort Pierce. This is not an inter-league bout which means the girls will spare no expense to claim the winning title for themselves. Doors open at 7:30 PM and the bout begins at 8 PM. Bring your own folding chairs for close-up, track side seating. You can even sit in the “Suicide Seats” and risk having a derby girl [or two] fly into your lap! Children 7 and under are free. Tickets are available day of, at the door of the Skateplex for $12. Advance tickets are $10 and can be purchased from your favorite skater. Students, military, and derby girl discounts are available. If you can’t make it to this bout, the Derby Darlin’ next bout is scheduled for March 3rd 2012.
So this article made you interested in participating in Roller Derby? Want to push yourself to a new level of athleticism? Make a new group of friends and be a part of the awesome derby community? Lucky for you, Tampa Roller Derby is currently recruiting new skaters! TRD will be having A Recruitment Boot Camp January 25th at USA Skateplex from 9am to 11:30 am, and Tryouts February 5th at 8pm at USA Skateplex. Still love the idea of roller derby but can’t afford the broken bones and pain that goes along with killing yourself? The Tampa Derby girls need help with Non Skating Officials and On skates officials – plenty of good perks come with it: free admission, best seats in the house, 60+ new BFFs, Beer, Pizza and the annual Prom!
Please visit http://www.tamparollerderby.com/ for more information on this fantastic sport.