#Roller derby in Morgantown gains attention and participation, offers new sport for women
Imagine playing rugby on skates while simultaneously playing chess—that’s roller derby.
At least that’s what President of #Morgantown Roller Vixens Joanna Thompson, better known as “Deja Boom,” thinks. She’s encouraging women of all shapes and sizes to strap on their helmets and try a new type of sport.
Roller derby is a contact sport not for the faint of heart. Many players leave practice or games with large bruises and sometimes major physical injuries.
“You’ve got to be pretty tough physically,” she said. “There’s a spot for everybody, but you’ve got to remember to be tough mentally first.”
Before participating in roller derby bouts, as roller derby players are called, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association has certain requirements women must meet before competing.
Women need to be able to hop over an object six inches high and skate at least 27 laps around a regulation derby track in five minutes.
Wednesday evening’s practice was the second day in the group’s Fresh Meat Bootcamp, an eight-week program that’s teaches interested women how to be tough and skilled enough to play the sport competitively.
Although the boot camp might come across as nothing but terrifying at first, Thompson is sure it will provide women with the abilities they need to thrive in the sport.
“It’s a lot of information for them to take in,” Thompson said. “The girls that succeed are the girls that work hard.”
In roller derby, there is one jammer, a player identified by the star on their helmet and four blockers on each team. Jammers score points by passing members of the other team on the track.
The competing teams aggressively try to keep the opponent’s jammer from passing members of their own team.
Many might perceive the sport as rough and vigorous. Tayna Wells, a new member of the team, says it’s the most enjoyment she’s had in a while.
“It just looked like a lot of fun,” she said. “I didn’t realize derby was becoming an actual sport, and now, it’s the best stress reliever I’ve ever had.”
The USA Roller Sports Association said that roller derby is more than just a fad—in 2014 there were more than 1,500 leagues in approximately 40 different countries. It is spreading like wildfire, “as it continues to be one of the most rapidly growing sports.”
“(Roller derby) is definitely growing by leaps and bounds,” Thompson said.
The Roller Vixens were founded in 2010 and have been rolling up attention from the local community ever since. They show their rough sides in each bout, but the West Virginia University student organization gives back to the community by dedicating each bout to a local charity.