West Texas Roller Dollz offer unique sport
Emily Bell loves to hit people. In fact, she gets together with a group of friends twice a week to whale on each other.
“It’s such a great stress relief,” Bell said.
But Bell is no street fighter or bare-knuckle brawler, she is one of a slew of local women who relish the opportunity to knock someone down.
Bell, or “Embo Slice” as she is known as in some circles, is a member of the West Texas Roller Dollz, an all-female roller derby team.
“It’s awesome – we can handle it,” Bell said about her sport of choice. “Most people are so shocked, especially when you see girls are small sizes and big sizes. People are blown away with what we can do with our bodies and our skates. It’s truly an amazing thing what we do here.”
“It’s just awesome, and most people are surprised by how hard we hit.”
Roller Derby has a unique set of scoring that might confuse some first-time derby fans, but the rules are simple enough.
The president of the Roller Dollz, Christina Johnson, has been with the team since 2007. A savvy veteran, Johnson said each “bout” consists of 14 skaters on the roster, with five players on the court at once.
The positions on the team consist of four blockers, while one acts as a lead pivot blocker, and one jammer, who scores the points.
Basically, Johnson said, the point of the game is to prevent the opposing team’s jammer from scoring while allowing the Dollz jammer to score as much as possible.
“So the first whistle blows, and this crazy pack of women that are duking it out take off,” Bell said, “and then a second whistle blows and the jammers take off. The jammers have to break through that crazy pack of women for the first time, and then they have to, in two minutes, circle back as many times as they can. As many times as they pass opposing players through that pack, they score a point.”
Broken bones, lifelong bonds
Since roller derby is a contact sport, injuries can unfortunately derail the career of some of its fierce competitors.
“I’ve had one of the major injuries on this team, which is why I’m a referee,” said Kim Durbin, who remains active in the sport by refereeing bouts. “I tore two ligaments in my knee, ripped my popliteal and compacted the cartilage behind my kneecap, and I cracked a rib and have a hip pointer.”
“K.O. Kim” said the sport offers a unique chance for women who do not consider themselves athletic to form a bond and sisterhood with teammates.
“I would tell (those interested) that I’m not an athletic person at all and I love this, and it’s good weight loss. I lost 40 pounds when I joined roller derby,” she said. “So, it’s for everyone — we have nurses; we have teachers; we have students; we have a grandmother; we have lots of moms. We have a huge group of girls and women and… once you become part of us, you’re part of us forever.”