A growing town that recycles and reloads a healthy portion of its population with great frequency deserves the benefit of a public service reminder, every now and again. The more you know.
Pssst… There is a women’s flat track roller derby team in Athens, Georgia.
They are exciting and physical and everyone on the team is your neighbor, your social worker, your bartender, your hairdresser and your nurse. Yes, they still play roller derby, and no, it isn’t fake or scripted. The sport, founded in the 1930s, has been riding a strong second wave of relevance, as evidenced by its 2015 world championship event being televised live by ESPN. No, it won’t be an Olympic event in Rio this summer, but let us wonder out loud why it can’t be an X Game, immediately?
The hometown Classic City Rollergirls will host the fourth annual Green vs. Black intrasquad throw-down at the Akins Arena at the Classic Center this Saturday evening to open the 2016 season. The bout won’t influence WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association) rankings, and both teams are composed of players that will skate with, rather than against, each other for the remainder of the season, but don’t kid yourself—there is a lot at stake for these skaters.
Green vs. Black isn’t just a most excellent occasion for someone new to the sport to get a taste of the action, it’s the final chance before the regular season schedule begins for would-be skaters to prove their mettle and earn a coveted spot on the 14-woman roster. The 2015 season ended with a 270-114 dismantling of Augusta’s Soul City Sirens way back in August. These athletes are chomping at the bit to get back on the track and hit somebody. And score all the points.
“I’m ready to play,” says wily veteran jammer BadAsh Booher. “There’s no better way to get ready for the season than playing your own teammates. It’s tough, because they know your best moves.”
Like Georgia football’s annual G-Day spring scrimmage, Green vs. Black affords coaches, captains and fans the opportunity to evaluate individual talent and team chemistry before the games really count. Which isn’t to say that the score of this one doesn’t matter.
“The other team is made up of your sisters, your family, so it’s more of a rivalry,” says third year blocker/jammer Boneva, adding, “I think this brings a much more personal and almost dramatic atmosphere to the track.”
Winning isn’t everything in this particular bout or even when considering the big picture. Team captain Louis Strongarm, enjoying her fifth season with the team and second year at the helm, had a very pragmatic view when asked to share her definition of a successful 2016 campaign: “If we work hard on and off the track. If we’re dedicated. If we play together as a team with a good attitude, it’ll be a great season.”
Of course, winning would be a positive side effect to all that commitment, and the coaching staff has been working diligently in an effort “to make CCRG a well-oiled mean machine,” says head coach Rocksteady. “This year we are fitter, fiercer and more knowledgeable than ever before.”
In keeping with CCRG’s continued commitment to philanthropy, a portion of the proceeds from this Saturday’s bout will benefit Citizen Advocacy Athens-Clarke, a local nonprofit with the mission to foster relationships that offer protection and advocacy to people with disabilities who are at risk and socially isolated from the community.
The next Classic City Rollergirls home bout will be Saturday, April 16 at 7 p.m. against the Cape Fear Roller Girls.