This is how they roll

By Bryan Kennedy

The Rollergirls of Central Kentucky entered Champ’s Skate Center and left their names at the door.

In these weekly practices, the neighborly Ms. Smiths and Joneses of the world transform into Rambos and O’Dooms, their skater names and the only titles they answer to while in competition.

With their names, wheels, kneepads and helmets, the Rollergirls are ready to play.

Roller derby has been compared to wrestling. The fierce competitors, though, are often different in their lives out of the rink.

“We have teachers, mothers, tattoo artists and even businesswomen out there,” said Cherry Darling, one of the team’s members who is known as Andrea Blair outside the rink. “But when the girls step on the rink, they all have nicknames or alter egos that represent their play.”

The object of the game is simple — get the jammer, the designated scoring skater, to score by lapping the opposing team. But the way to do it is a little more complicated.

At the sound of the whistle, a line of blockers take off for each team. Shortly after, on the referee’s second whistle, two jammers take off.

The blockers pave the way for their jammer to successfully make it through the crowd of skaters and complete one lap for the point.

This may sound easy, but a roller derby is not a walk in the park — it’s a high-contact sport.

The two groups of blockers are allowed to use their bodies to stop the opposing blockers and jammer from getting ahead. There are hard hits and even harder spills on the skating floor.

The popularity of roller derby reached its peak in the 1970s. Now the once-declining sport has come back.

“The sport has recently received a sort of grassroots revival,” Darling said. “Women play this everywhere now from an airplane hanger in California to the fairgrounds in Louisville.”

Kitty O’Doom, who answers to Hannah Trusty when on the job in UK’s statistics department, said this time last year she didn’t know much about roller derby, but now she is developing into a good player on the Rollergirls, the only Lexington team in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.

“I had been watching the show ‘Rollergirls’ on A&E and had seen fliers for the Lexington team in a tattoo parlor,” O’Doom said. “I came in and had never been on skates, but now in March, I will have been here for a year.”

The team is always looking for new members to come and try out. The team is currently holding open recruitment for all levels throughout February.

“We encourage everyone to come out and give it a try,” Darling said. “We have people come out at all skill levels, some come in not even knowing how to skate, but we always are open to teaching and helping people learn the sport.”

Tryouts for the Rollergirls of Central Kentucky are held at their practices at Champ’s Skate Center on Ruccio Way Monday and Wednesday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturdays.