Rollergirls host first home bout for 2015 season

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The Appalachian Online

Molly Flinchum

The Appalachian Rollergirls will compete against the Little City Rollergirls of Johnson City, Tennessee for their first bout of the season Saturday at Holmes Convocation Center.

Proceeds from the bout will raise money for the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The chapter provides opportunities for Watauga County residents to learn more about mental illnesses and to bridge the gap between individuals who have a mental illness and those who do not.

The Appalachian sat down with team captain Mallory Sadler to discuss the upcoming season.

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The Appalachian: Can you give us a little background about who the Rollergirls are and what they do?

Mallory Sadler: Today’s roller derby is a resurgence from ‘70s roller derby. We made it a legitimate sport. We’re a nonprofit organization, female-run, we’re really empowering for women. It’s just a really cool full-contact sport that we really encourage people get involved with.

TA: What does a derby bout look like?

MS: We skate on a track, it’s kind of an oval shape. You’ll see skaters from both teams on the track at the same time you’ll see four girls who are blockers, and two girls who are jammers – one girl who’s a jammer from each team, eight blockers, two jammers. Your jammers are your point scorers, so they fight their way through the pack once. The first one of them who’s out gets the lead jammer, then they fight back around and that’s how they score a point. Your lead jammer can call it off at any time. If she doesn’t call it off, it goes two minutes. So what you’ll see is just people hitting each other constantly.

TA: How many girls do you have on your team?

MS: Skating on Saturday, we have 11 girls. Total–we just had a new boot camp, so our numbers are pretty high.–we have somewhere between 30 and 40 girls normally. We also have a lot of really dedicated volunteers who don’t skate, but they’re with us all the time. My husband’s a ref, we have a coach and an assistant coach, lots of [non-skating officials]. We have a lot of people involved.

TA: What are these practices like?

MS: We practice twice a week, for three hours each time, on Saturday mornings and Tuesday nights. Our practices are actually open to the public if people want to come and watch. Our typical practice – we skate a lot. We do a lot of drills, a nice warm-up, some stretching and an on-skate workout.  We normally scrimmage at the end. It’s lots of drills; it’s actually pretty intense.

TA: Why did you choose the the National Alliance on Mental Illness as the charity?

MS: That is very important to us. They’re a fantastic organization; we would really like to help them raise a lot of money. With everything Boone is going through right now, there’s such a need for this organization. […] We met a representative from their organization at the Health and Fitness Expo a couple of months ago, and she was just really into roller derby. When we found out who she was with, we were really into her. It’s just a really good mutual respect to each other, just a hope that we could help them in some way.

TA: Why are you personally into roller derby?

MS: I started roller derby because I really needed something to do. I was going through this time where I was just feeling bland and I felt like I didn’t have anything to look forward to, so my husband encouraged me to go to a boot camp. We are from Athens, Georgia, so he encouraged me to go to one down there, and I just kind of went on a whim and fell in love with it. It’s women empowering women, which doesn’t happen everywhere. It’s a full-contact women’s sport, which doesn’t happen often. It felt like family; it felt like I met friends that first day, and I’ve moved since, obviously, but I still have all those friends, we talk everyday.

[Derby] made me a better person. It’s made me confident, it’s gotten me in really good shape, which is nice. For me it’s just all about what it does for people. I’ve seen people come into derby, and they can’t talk to you, they can’t look you in the eye, they can’t skate, and they just feel really down on themselves. And in a matter of months, that girl is awesome and she knows it and she now has friends and she has confidence and it just makes their lives better.

Story: Molly Flinchum, Intern A&E Reporter