Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Cool Kids

As a 4th grader who yearned to be cool, one of the best places to practice and flaunt such potential coolness was Rainbow Skateland, nestled in the boonies of Perry County. I remember lacing up those sweet beige-and-orange rentals, cuffing my stonewashed jeans with the zippers at the bottoms, and rolling smoothy to the Q-Bert game next to the lockers. I would order my nachos confidently from the snack bar, arms resting on the counter thanks to the two-inch lift those eight wheels provided. Soon enough, my favorite Whitney Houston hit would play (“I Wanna Dance with Somebody”) and I felt the need to get out onto the rink. Huddled with the timid masses at the threshold between the berber carpet and the slick polished rink, I rocked back and forth like I was trying to enter a double-dutch game, gauging just the right moment for entrance into the pack already rolling around the floor. Once into the fray, I would spend the next hour navigating turns, avoiding groups of fast fifth-graders, and trying my best not to slam into a wall.

Take away the fifth-graders, the Whitney Houston, and the Q-Bert, and you’ve got the sport of Roller Derby.

Our own Angie Foreman already blogged about Indy’s own Naptown Roller Girls a few entries earlier (just scroll down), so I won’t go into particulars about rules and regulations about roller derby. I will, however, introduce you to Strawberry Jam, one of the Naptown Roller Girls. Her cool factor is way up there. Here’s what she had to say about skating for glory at the Pepsi Coliseum.

*Describe roller derby in three words.

Tough. Powerful. Addicting.

*What is your favorite moment during a bout?

Putting the jammer on the ground…over and over and over.

*Any good injury stories?

Well, personally I’ve had two surgeries due to derby. First, I broke my ankle and had a plate and six screws put in. Fourteen months later, I had my knee worked on. The “best” injury goes to Scary Poppins: she was hit directly into a wall when we first started and broke her humerus completely. The x-ray is almost like a cartoon of what an x-ray looks like.

*How does it make you feel, being a part of NRG?

It’s a sisterhood. We sweat. Bleed. Strategize. Run the league. We do it all as one amazing group of talented women…with the help of a few men. It’s an amazing feeling to look in the faces of ladies who are going to battle together.

*Tell me about your fans. They seem integral part to the whole vibe of the game.

WE LOVE THEM! I can’t say enough amazing things. They love the sport as much as we do. They learn the rules and discuss the games with us. They support us 100%...we always say we are the luckiest team in the nation because we have the best fans!

*Any little-known tidbits that those unfamiliar with derby would find interesting?

Most people don’t realize that none of us get paid to play—in fact we all pay dues to be a part of the league. The girls on the track are the same girls who put the track together on bout day, the same girls that set up the ticket sales and deliver tickets to our vendors around town. We manage the league, run the league and skate for the league.

You can read more about the NRG here in the Winter Issue of Inside the Grounds. After you’ve done that, buy a ticket to their upcoming bout on January 16th.

All the cool kids will be there—so feel free to sport some stonewashed jeans.

Submitted by Claire Wilcher

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