By Sunny Montgomery
When I first began covering the Rollergirls of Central Kentucky (ROCK) for NoC, I’d been bewildered by everything: the skaters whizzing past, pushing and falling, the referees gesturing wildly and the announcers hollering things I could not understand. But by the end of the season, I was an enthusiast. I was so overcome with female empowerment that I cut off all my hair and got a girlfriend.
So I was thrilled on April 7 when ROCK returned to the Lexington Center for their first home bout of the new season to face off against the formidable Black-n-Bluegrass Rollergirls (BBRG) from Northern Kentucky.
I arrived in time to take a seat at the edge of the track and open my notebook before the whistle blew, signaling its start. The Pivots were off, followed by the Blockers. The whistle blew a second time, the Jammers rushed forward and instantly, I flashbacked to my first roller derby. Fish-netted legs flailed. Elbow and knee pads clanked against the concrete floors. The crowd gasped and cheered. I could not make my pen write fast enough.
“Ladies and gentleman, the track has been coated in Crisco!” Announcer Bill Widener shouted though it wasn’t true. The floor had not been buttered – it had been freshly waxed. The first turn of the track seemed nearly unskateable and the players turned into, as ROCK’s Rainbow Smite aptly put it, “Bambi on ice.”
During the first half, a jam abruptly ended when a player slipped and tangled her skates in the tape that edged the track. This resulted in a colossal rollergirl pileup and an official timeout while volunteers worked quickly to repair the track. I had never seen anything like that happen. Before the bout was over, it would happen two more times.
The slipperiness of the track, in part, may have benefitted BBRG. The Northern KY girls are known for their slow style of play while ROCK is known for their fast-paced athleticism. I remembered from last season that BBRG is also known to have sweeping victories. They have a considerable size advantage and are able to form walls of rollergirls that ROCK’s smaller skaters cannot push past. That night was no different. BBRG won the bout: 172 to 71.
No, it was not an idyllic return home for ROCK, but their positive attitudes could not be curbed. “We’ve all skated under less than ideal conditions,” Rainbow told me afterward. “You grin and bear it.” Besides, the season is still brand new. There are plenty more opportunities to immerse yourself in the unpredictable world of the roller derby and let ROCK change your life – or perhaps just provide you, your friends and your family with a fun and alternative way to spend a Saturday night. Either way, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
Support your local rollergirls. ROCK’s next bout will take place June 23 at Heritage Hall. Bout begins at 7. Doors open at 6:30.