Field House to host women’s roller derby
When Skate World in Jacksonville closed down, Girls Rollin’ in the South Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby League had to search for a new central location for their fan base. The UALR Field House was chosen in hopes of raising awareness of the sport’s popularity, according to Campus Life Research Assistant Michael Castens.
“Administration was worried about the affects of the skates on the field house floor,” Castens said. “But after a demonstration they were satisfied and the bouts were approved.”
The Breakneck Brawlers will face the Tulsa Derby Brigade Oct. 20 at the UALR Field House.
Castens, known as Mr. Duzzit in the derby world, has been an announcer for GRITS for about a year.
“If you asked every announcer in roller derby how they became the announcer, I bet it was because some guy didn’t show up and they had to do it,” he said.
Castens said as announcer he likes to focus on the rules, so the audience can understand the events of the fast-paced sport.
A roller derby bout begins with four blockers from each team, also called the pack. On the track behind the pack are two jammers with stars on their helmets. When the first whistle blows, the blockers take off followed by the jammers when the second whistle blows. The jammers race around the track to pass the pack and become the lead jammer. During their second flight around the track, the jammers try to pass blockers to score points.
“[Roller Derby] is an exciting contest; it is something that is different and something that is grass roots; sort of home-grown,” Castens said. “Maybe not totally polished, but that’s the appeal; it’s not corporate.”
The Breakneck Brawlers’ captain, Daisy Fever, established GRITS in March 2010. The Breakneck Brawlers, who practice at Joyland Skate Center in Cabot, were the first team established under GRITS.
“We started out with three skaters in November of 2009,” Fever said. “But we wanted to do derby and we wanted to stay local.”
Two and a half years later GRITS has a core group of girls Fever said and that she couldn’t have picked a better team.
Fever has been out since April with an anterior cruciate ligament injury and will not be cleared for competition until the season is over in November; however, she said she is grateful the team allows her to remain captain.
Junior nursing major Casey Tyson is in her first competitive season with the Breakneck Brawlers.
“I like jammin,” she said. “But hitting is the most challenging. It takes skill to line up [with another player] without tripping and still put power behind it.”
Co-captian Miss Crasherella said she must rely on her sisters to function as a team.
“We have fun and cut-up, but we get serious with drills,” she said. “Jammers get focused and we work together. I can count on my sisters to have my back.”
Modern roller derby teams are usually connected to a community organization, according to Castens.
“Typically, [the charity] will have a booth at the bout where people can ask questions and make additional donations,” he said.
This season the Breakneck Brawlers have partnered with the Wade Knox Children’s Advocacy Center of Lonoke.
Wade Knox works toward reducing “the trauma of child abuse in a child-friendly and safe environment; foster professional collaboraton and cooperation; and promote education and advocacy regarding the prevention of child abuse within the community,” according to its website.
“We have a lot of players who are moms and this organization is close to their hearts,” Crasherella said.
Castens said the league pays dues and fundraises in order to keep the league going.
“It’s real people that build this from scratch, on their own, for free,” he said. “Someone who would do all that must love the sport.”
The Breakneck Brawlers compete in Arkansas and surrounding states. They are currently 4-5 this season. First whistle blows at 5 p.m. Tickets are $8 at the door or $6 for students and military. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Wade Knox Center. For more information visit gritsrollerderby.com