Jun 242012

Pebbles propel ROCK to 177-51 victory

By Sunny Montgomery

Doing it for the kids. Photo by Lewis Gardner.

I arrived to Heritage Hall last Saturday a little after six o’clock.  The Lexington Rollergirls (ROCK) were warming up, skating graceful laps around the track in preparation for their second home bout of the season against the Jewel City Rollergirls (JCRG) of West Virginia. Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake serenaded overhead.  As I took a front-row seat and opened my notebook, announcer Bill Widener welcomed the audience, introduced himself, and then his co-announcer Mike Trusty, husband to league president and five year ROCK veteran Kitty O’Doom.

Mike gestured to the west-facing wall where a group of little girls leaned, wearing white t-shirts, kneepads and roller skates.  These, he announced, were special guests:  members of the junior roller derby also known as the Pebbles.  The miniature rollergirls made their way onto the track for individual introductions while the crowd cheered in raucous agreement:  this was unequivocally adorable.

Size matters

A few minutes to seven, the refs and score-keepers took their places on center track.  The rollergirls positioned themselves and I noticed that the JCRG were smaller in stature than ROCK.  Although the roller derby has much to do with resilience and strategy, size advantage can make all the difference—as  demonstrated by last April’s 172-71 beatdownagainst the impressive Black N’ Bluegrass.

ROCK’s Sugar Shock fights her way to lead jammer. Photo by Lewis Gardner.

The whistle blew and the bout began.  Immediately, JCRG’s long-limbed jammer pushed through the pack.  Seconds before the ref could declare her lead jammer, though, she skidded and spun out, allowing ROCK’s Sugar Shock to hurtle into lead position and confirm what the back of her pink and black shorts proudly proclaimed:  I GET AROUND.

Again and again, ROCK got lead jammer.  ROCK’s Smokin Okie even took a moment to showboat.  She pumped her fists in the air, encouraging the crowd to get loud, which they did.  Fifteen minutes into the bout, ROCK was already ahead 47 points.

Lessons for Pebbles

ROCK may have had a slight size advantage, but still, the Jewel City skaters were fierce.  In particular, JCRG’s Smooth Operator was perhaps the most aggressive skater I’d seen:  combative and vengeful.  If an opponent knocked her down, Smooth Operator would scramble upright, scream at the refs, then chase the offender around the track.  Once caught up, she would unleash a relentless onslaught of shoulder-slams until, frequently, she knocked herself back to the floor.  It was incredible and slightly terrifying.  I found myself disappointed each time she was sent to the penalty box.

Ultimately, however, the roller derby is about teamwork.

“Our current roster of girls is very tight,” ROCK’s Ragdoll Ruby told me.  “We are living and fighting for each other in so many ways.”  So it was no surprise that in the end, ROCK won the bout, arm in arm: 177 to 51.

ROCK’s next home bout is July 14 at Heritage Hall.  Doors open at 6.  Bout begins at 7.  For more information on the Pebbles email wenturner@gmail.com.

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