Bryson City Roller-Girls Duke it Out With Little City

A few weeks ago, I was invited by new friends Bob and Gwen to attend a Roller Derby match between the hometown team in Bryson City, NC and the visiting girls from Little City, TN. I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a live Roller Derby event and I’m positive it’s been about 40 billion years since I’ve even seen one on TV. I had no idea what to expect, but pretty certain it was going to be action packed and fun.

I was not disappointed in the least!  First off, we sat in the seats right on the flat cement track positioned by one of the corners and thinking it would be a great vantage point. It would be no doubt, but the signs pasted smack dab on the floor in front of us hinted that maybe they would be a little too good. Apparently these were the “Suicide Seats” and while that might be slight hyperbole, it also seemed likely we’d end up as participants in some freight train scrum should the pack fail to make the turn. Prudence won the day and we retreated to some safer seats off to the side, but still right on the floor. Speed and centrifugal force were more likely in our favor at this location.

These turned out to be a fantastic choice since not only were we safer, but also right beside the spot where the home team sat when not out on the floor doing gladiatorial combat. As an added bonus, one of the player’s Moms was seated in front and was kind enough to explain the rules and action to those of us with zero experience. They turned out to be more complicated than I would have thought so this was extra welcome. One thing we learned from her was that each girl created their own “stage name” and there could only be one in the entire league. Unique. That meant they had to be clever, creative and original in picking out a moniker. They had names like “White Russian,” “Gypsy,” “Mossferatu,” “BathTub Jenn,” “Brawltimore,” and “Jane Gretzky.” I gave most of them extra points for creativity. 
Things moved very fast. The girls were good sports and seemed to play fair, but also were tough and unyielding. I think you’d have to be in pretty amazing shape to keep the pace up for that long. I know I couldn’t by a very long shot. They also dished out and took incredible punishment, but no one seemed to get angry or seek retribution. They all just dug in and played a little harder. 
The Pack in Action!!
Halftime was fun and they handed out prizes to those spectators who had earlier purchased tickets at the door. The way they did it was novel (for me at least) and participatory too. They set numbered cards all around the track and we ticket-holders did a musical chairs type walk around the track until the tunes stopped. Then they would read a number and if you were standing in front of that number, you won the prize. Bob actually won two prizes, so later on we had cake for dessert. Yum. All the prizes were tasty baked goods. Fine by me.
One of the other things I got a kick out of were the referees. They all had unusual funky labels on the back like “Peace-Monger,” “Skull-Kicker” and “Neffer Whee” as seen below. Most of them didn’t really look like what we’ve come to expect from professional refs either. A couple had super long hair and ZZ Top beards for example. The whole thing was just a kick and very good humored while also being a hard fought match. Given that it takes an act of Congress for me to sit through any sporting event (and I include ALL of them), the fact that I was entertained as thoroughly as I was says a lot I think. I’d take this over football, baseball, hockey etc. any day of the week.

By the end of the first half, it was evident that the home town girls were being slaughtered on the scoreboard, even though to my untrained eye, it looked like a pretty even contest. By the end though, the score was roughly two to one in favor of Little City over Bryson. Nobody seemed unduly upset about it however. Later, when Bob, Gwen and I were having a beer at the local brew pub, both teams came in and talked with each other over cold drinks. I thought that was pretty cool. Too bad a few more of those hyper-competitive parents you see yelling and brawling at their kid’s baseball and soccer games couldn’t take a lesson from these hard-working good sports.

Stay tuned for more…