Balsam Mountain Roller Girls

Haywood county's first womens flat track roller derby team located in Waynesville, Western North Carolina

Feb 26th 2012-Freshmeat Recruitment

Derby Start-Up

 
Roller Derby, which has been described as a mix between hockey and football on quad skates, has been around since the 1930’s
and initially began as roller skating races. The sport which was popular for 40 years dwindled in the 70’s but
was revived again in 2000 when Texas Derby Teams started establishing player owned and operated organizations. Today, Roller Derby
is America’s fastest growing sport.
 
JoLynn Bryant, 43, along with other local moms, is looking to start a flat track roller derby league in Western North
Carolina. “I saw a bout a couple of years ago and immediately feel in love with the energy of the sport. I told my husband
right then that I was putting ‘roller derby girl’ on my bucket list. I never dreamed it might actually come true! I didn’t even skating back then.” Bryant says.
 
One of the main requirements to become a recognized WFTDA League is a team of ten women who practice at least 2 hours a week.
Bryant believes they can do even better than that. Her goal is 20 women so two teams of ten can bout each other in practice. The popularity of the sport is
growing resulting in leagues sprouting up everywhere. The Blue Ridge Roller Girls, a widely recognized team from Asheville, has recently been granted a
WFTDA Apprenticeship after 5 years and Bryson City has a new team, The Smoky Mountain Roller Girls, which has formed in just the last two months.
 
Casey Queen, a 31-year-old Dillsboro resident, is looking forward to joining the new league. She said that she’s never
played before but she’s always loved skating and thought she would enjoy it, the exercise and the networking.
 
We are looking for ladies 18 and over who are ready to rock! You do not have to be a professional skater. We need women of all shapes, sizes and skill levels
who are ready to get involved is something exciting, meet new friends, get some great exercise and have fun.
 
The group is holding their first meeting at Smoky Mountain Sk8way, located at 19025 Great Smoky Mountain Expressway(HWY 24/74) next
to the Waynesville Cycle Center, on Wednesday, Sept 28th at 7 pm. This will be an introduction to the sport ending with an open skate.
“We want anyone and everyone who might be interested to come find out more about roller derby,” Bryant said. “You know, a lot of the
best roller girls never skated before they started derby.”
 
If you’re not sure about skating there’s still lots of room for you! Men and women 18 and over may join in a variety of roles
including referees, coaches, bout production, photographer,and general help. Anyone of any age can help support the team
through promoting, fundraising, sponsoring, cheerleading and attending events and matches.
 
Please call 828-246-9124 if you have any questions

Roller Derby Divas

http://www.smokymountainnews.com/news/item/5647-roller-derby-divas

Wednesday, 23 November 2011 09:45
Roller derby divas
Written by Caitlin Bowling
Print E-mail Judy Lau is a mom and detective with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office; Miss Demeanor is a tough-looking roller derby girl, sporting a helmet with fake bullet holes and red socks with guns and brass knuckles.

Miss Demeanor is part of Lau’s “a little more wild and crazy” second life as a member of the newly formed Balsam Mountain Roller Girls, a women’s roller derby team in Haywood County, she said.

Lau chose the pseudonym because of its obvious connection to her job.

“You kind of want to pick a name that has something to do with yourself,” she said.

Robin Matthews, an obstetrician/gynecologist in Haywood County, chose the name Minimal Invasion because most of her work procedures are just that — minimally invasive.

Choosing a name that rolls off the tongue and has some meaning is just about as difficult as the game itself.

Alex Gonsalez, who wears a Wonder Woman shirt, drew up a list of possible names before finally settling on Disgrace Slick, a reference to Jefferson Airplane lead singer Grace Slick.

“It just kind of came to me,” said Gonsalez, who hummed the opening of “White Rabbit.”

The women mainly practice at Smoky Mountain Sk8teway, which is owned by team captain JoLynn Bryant or, as she is known to her team, Femme Reaper.

Bryant is a web designer who bought the Smoky Mountain Sk8teway a year ago with her husband. Bryant said she has wanted to own a roller rink for six years and jumped at the chance to buy the Smoky Mountain Sk8teway.

Soon after, she started formulating plans for a roller derby team.

“I just don’t think there is enough sports for women in Haywood County,” Bryant said.

The Balsam Mountain Roller Girls began practicing in September and currently has 18 members ranging in age from 22 to 48.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Bryant said.

A youthful pastime
A number of the women who are members of the Balsam Mountain Roller Girls joined because roller skating was an enjoyable staple of their childhood.

“It’s like riding a bike; you just have to get back out there,” said Bryant, who advertised the new group in several area newspapers and on Facebook. About 15 women heeded her call and attended the first practice in September.

“It just really struck a cord with me,” said Matthews, who lived near a skating rink as a child. “Forming something from nothing is pretty exciting.”

Gonsalez started skating when she was 4 years old. She said she couldn’t ride a bicycle but she could skate, and the roller derby team gave her a reason to start again.

Lau skated when she was younger but quit for about 10 years when her work and home life became more demanding. Lau and her daughter, Heather, have been a part of the team since it was established.

“It’s a good stress reliever,” Lau said.

Ready to bout?
Several of the women traveled to Asheville this past weekend to watch their first bout, or game. As they saw first-hand, the game allows women to set aside their daily lives and do something totally different.

It was “kind of violent,” Matthews said. Plus, it’s exciting and great exercise, she said.

The Balsam Mountain Roller Girls has only had about 10 practices, but the possibility of competing in their own bouts make the women’s eyes light up.

Bryant said she never really enjoyed watching sports. During the bout in Asheville, however, she screamed like crazy.

“We’ve got some learning to do, but we’ve come a long way,” Lau said.

The women will continue to practice three times a week for now and then want to start scrimmaging other teams this summer.

“I don’t think we are anywhere near” ready to compete, but the team is improving with every practice, Gonsalez said.

Although their first bout is a while away, the Balsam Mountain Roller Girls plan to spread the word about their group by roller-skating in the area holiday parades and continuing to advertise their need for coaches, referees, sponsors, announcers and fans.

Any woman interested can join the team. Dues are $40 a month and members need to acquire skates, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, a helmet and mouth piece within the first month of joining.

The woman are not required to wear anything specific, beyond the mandatory safety gear but don mostly red and black, the team’s colors. They wear a mix of clothing items, including leggings, spandex, basketball shorts and stripped socks.

The Rules
Roller Derby is about endurance and, most importantly, strategy.

“It’s like playing chess, and you’re the chess piece,” Bryant said.

Players are split up into three categories:

• The Jammer: Each team has a jammer, who wears a helmet cover with two large stars on either side of their head. Jammers start 30 feet behind the other players on a track. During the jam, or period of play, jammers score points by skating past members of the opposing team.

• Blockers: These players — three from each team — travel in a pack and try to prevent the Jammers from passing them on the track.

• Pivots: Pivots, wearing striped helmet covers, performs the same duties as the blockers but also have the ability to become the jammer in a move called “Pass the Star.” Jammers can pass their starred helmet covers to a pivot during a bout. The pivot then becomes the jammer, and the jammer becomes a blocker. Each team has one pivot.

A bout, or game, is 60 minutes long. The bout is split into two 30-minute periods, which are further divided into jams. Jams can last up to two minutes.

When a jam starts, the jammers try to pass the pack, made up of blockers and pivots. During the jammer’s initial pass, they do not score any points. Jammers can begin racking up points on subsequent passes and receive one point for each opposing blocker or pivot they pass, which means they can score as many as four points with each lap around the track.

To prevent the jammers from scoring, blockers and pivots may knock an opponent down or out-of-bounds, or simply move in a way that impedes the opposition’s speed and movements.

Blockers can use their torso, hips, butt, thighs or upper arms to knock an opponent out of play. But, they can only make contact with the other player’s arms, hands, chest, hips or thighs. For those who have seen the movie “Whip It,” elbows, heads, forearms and calves cannot be used or hit. Still, people have been known to break bones or chip teeth.

“It’s not violent, like we are going to kill each other,” Lau said. “It’s just like any other sport; it’s got rules and regulations.”

A full, detailed list of rules and regulations is available on the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association website.

Join up
The Balsam Mountain Roller Girls are currently looking for coaches, referees, scorekeepers, volunteers, sponsors, cheerleaders, photographers, announcers and of course, team members. Those interested can call 246.9124.

WHAT: Balsam Mountain Roller Girls

WHEN: Sundays and Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Smoky Mountain Sk8teway; Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the WCU Ramsey Building

COST: $40 a month, plus price of equipment