Roller derby is back in season
The Balsam Mountain Roller Girls is holding its annual roller derby recruitment and sign-up event, where team members will explain the game of roller derby, show video clips of the game in action, talk about the BMRG league and team opportunities, then let those interested try out skating. Skates will be provided.
There will be an adult league recruitment for women ages 18-plus and a junior league recruitment for girls 11 to 17 years old.
It's been said that roller derby, the world's fastest growing sport, can be compared to or, some even dare to say, better than football. It's an action packed game of girls on skates requiring both skill and strategy. It's as much fun for the fans and volunteers as it is for the skaters.
"It's just such an awesome sport," said Karen Smathers, a.k.a. Madam Misery, blocker for BMRG. "I never liked exercising but give me a competitive sport and I'll run, skate, and play all day. I enjoy the friends I skate with, the people I meet and helping with the fundraisers and the junior team. It keeps me happy, healthy and motivated. I guess it keeps me young."
While prior skating or other athletic experience is certainly encouraged, it is not required of any type of league member. Women who chose to skate will practice twice a week will build up strength and endurance levels together, while learning and honing their skating and roller derby skills. Junior girls will practice once a week and play no contact derby, until the skaters have demonstrated the basic skating competency necessary to safely engage in the JRDA (Junior Roller Derby Association) Full Contact play.
“I have two girls on the team, ages 11 and 15,” said Crystal Kern. “I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical in their interest at first. Roller derby has carried a slight taboo. But I'm here to tell you this isn't an outcast sport. It has been rebirthed. It is an empowerment tool for girls and women alike. I have watched my daughters become transformed. They have become stronger and more confident with each practice.”
The junior roller girls recruitment event will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 and the Balsam Mountain Roller Girls Recruitment 18-plus event will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10.
Both events will be held at Smoky Mountain Sk8way on the bypass in Waynesville.
Skaters who join are required to pay $40 a month which comes with a free monthly skating pass to all public skate sessions at Smoky Mountain Sk8way. A one-time fee of $35 annually for junior girls or $45 annually for adult league women to USARS for roller derby insurance, which is required to bout or scrimmage with other teams. A skater must provide their own gear — quad skates, helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, wrist guards, and mouth guard — within a month of joining. There will be purchasing opportunities available for skate and gear packages during and after both events. Call 246-9124.