Growling, clashing, punching, knock outs, and broken bones – No, I’m not talking about MMA – I’m talking about women’s rollerderby with the Lonestar Rollergirls (TXRD). Walking into the convention center, the roars of the fans gave me a wave of nostalgia. If there is one thing that you need to do in Austin, this is always my first suggestion.
Before we started traveling, I used to be a referee for these ladies. My rollerderby name? Scare-ica.
This time I was on a completely different job. With a few emails and pleading eyes I snatched up a prized press pass, allowing me to hang out with the girls in the middle of the track in the third quarter. Sure, I had been there many times before but it is a bit different when I’m involved with my camera instead of the game itself.
The contenders – The pink-clad Hellcats versus the black and red Putas del Fuego.
The bout was intense from the start to the very last minute. Beginning with some bad luck, Train Wreck broke her tibia in her introductory lap around the track at what was the first bout of her career. The on-hand Medics rushed the stage as her bent leg was splinted and she was taken out of the hall on a stretcher.
Many people don’t realize that these girls skate at their own risk. They aren’t insured by the league. Some of them don’t have insurance – period. This isn’t a paid gig. These girls do it for the love of the sport.
One of the reasons I love TXRD in particular is that they don’t follow the official Women’s Flat Track Derby Association’s (WFTDA) rules – which opens it to shenanigans. Did someone get a penalty? Send her over to the penalty wheel in which a spin determines the team’s fate. If they lose, they lose a point. If they win, they keep it. The mini-games include arm wrestling, tug-of-war, two lap duels, long jump, and the obvious fan favorite – PILLOW FIGHTING.
I mean, who doesn’t want to see scantily clad women in fishnets beating each other to a pulp? It is spectator sports at its finest.
The most depressing thing about being there is that, for a while, I was starting to mess around with my skates in hopes of one day becoming an official bada** rollerderby girl. As I watched legs fly every which way around the track, I became acutely aware that it just isn’t in my cards right now. With my injured knee (a floating patella that likes to move out of place randomly), I cringed at the thought of my knee giving out in the middle of a jam.
More than anything I miss the camaraderie. While the girls shout out expletives at each other and screams of “SUCK IT REF!” can be heard around the track, when all is said and done – everyone goes home happy. The girls party together, support each other, and treat one another as family.
…one hell of a family, indeed.
Thank you TXRD for allowing me the opportunity to take up some space on the track for some pictures. I had the time of my life!