When the Soul City Sirens women’s roller derby team faces the Rome Roller Girls at the Redwing Rollerway in Augusta on June 10, those in attendance will see a fast-paced, hard-hitting bout.
What they won’t see is the dedication required to put the product out in front of the public.
And five women from Columbia County will be right in the thick of the action.
Like the rest of the team, some are married, some have children, some work, some don’t. Their roller derby names are as varied as the women themselves.
What links the five is that they are passionate about their sport, and have to find ways to balance their lives with the requirements of the team. They don’t get paid – in fact, they pay dues, and spend eight hours a week practicing, in addition to sometimes traveling for games.
“Derby takes up a lot of your time. It’s really hard to learn how to balance,” said 31-year-old Tanya Goulet, a stay-at-home mom who goes by the name X Luv Her. “I have five kids, so it’s good to just be able to get out.
“It’s just a good outlet to be able to have friends and be an adult and not just someone’s mom.”
Rebecca Tyler (Skull Girl Crush) is a 21-year-old single mom who moved to Martinez two years ago from California. Becoming a Siren has been nothing but a positive experience, she said.
“I like to feel it gives me a confidence I never had before,” she said. “It was something I didn’t think I could do. It turns out I could do it. … I found derby soon after getting to Georgia. I didn’t know many people before I started. You come in here and you already have 30 friends before you even started skating, so it’s awesome.”
Juggling job responsibilities and making practices is one of the harder things for 28-year-old Betsy Hart (Vigorgeous), who is a chemical technician at Plant Vogtle.
“It’s really hard for me,” said Hart, a Lakeside High school graduate. “I have to really want to come to practice sometimes. I work rotating shifts, so I work nights and days and I have to miss practice sometimes to be on night shift.
“It’s hard once you miss a week. You don’t know what’s going on next week.”
Kristina Perez, who goes by Pink Socks on the track, has a 13-year-old girl and an almost 10-year-old boy. She knew how to skate before she started roller derby about two years ago, but it still took a while to break into the Sirens’ starting roster.
“It took me probably six to eight months before I was in my first bout,” Perez said. “It took a while to train. There’s a lot to it.”
The sport is a good way for her to relieve tension, she said.
“It’s a good outlet. When you can’t really hit people on a normal daily basis, you know, it’s legal.”
Kristan Flores (Damn Yankee), who by day is a 35-year-old operations manager at Kimberly Clark, had played many positions for the Sirens. But since a knee injury and the birth of a second child, she acts as a referee.
“It eats your life,” She said. “It takes over your life, but in all of the best ways.”