I went to a practice for the Soul City Sirens roller derby team in Augusta a few days back, and just being in the roller rink brought me back to my early teen years in the late 1970s and early ’80s.
I haven’t been to a Sirens bout, which is what they call their contests against other teams. But from what head coach Jason Craig tells me, it almost sounds like the times I spent with friends in the rink.
“It’s a show,” said Craig. “There’s music, DJs, beer, all kinds of stuff. It’s the only sport you’ll be talking about at work for four days afterward.”
OK, maybe like my time at the rink, just without the beer.
If you don’t want to see athletic women in tight uniforms jostling against one another, that’s fine. Each woman has a different roller derby name, and it would be interesting to go just to see how they have dubbed themselves.
Among some of the Siren names are Skull Girl Crush, and in what might not bode well for Craig, his wife is known as Domestic Disturbance.
Anyone who ever spent any time with me at the rink would agree that my roller derby name would have to be something like Clumsy McTrippin.
My claim to fame is I invented a move called “The Superman”: Stumble over an imaginary object, go full prone in the air with arms extended. There is no graceful landing, however.
We relied on parents or older siblings to get us to the rink, and to do the sport they love, these women really receive tremendous support from their families.
“They become your best fans. They become your ticket-takers at the door,” Kristan Flores said. “It becomes a family affair because it is all skater run. We don’t hire anybody to do this. We do all the stuff ourselves. We have to sell approximately 250 tickets each bout to break even for a month.”
Most of the auxiliary personnel who help run bouts, such as scoreboard operators or penalty timekeepers, are related to the skaters.
“All the husbands have to be involved,” Craig said. “That’s where we recruit a lot of our volunteers.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean the families don’t worry about them on the track, like Lakeside grad Betsy Hart’s father.
“He’s come to a few of my bouts,” Hart said laughing. “He’s more worried about my physical well-being.”
After watching the Sirens practice for two hours, I understand what they’re trying to accomplish, but what I don’t know about the sport far exceeds that. And that’s OK.
“You pick it up and it’s really addictive,” Craig said. “A good way to find out about it is to come to a bout and watch it.”