I spent Saturday afternoon with girls named Suri Bruise, Goldee Headlocks, and Miss Hawaiian Trippabitch. Don’t worry, they treated everyone perfectly nicely — except for each other. These ladies belong to the Lowcountry Highrollers, Charleston’s roller derby team, and on Saturday, they broke into three groups and battled each other at a bout called Sibling Rivalry.
The bleachers were near capacity at the McAllister Field House at the Citadel and people lined the rink, careful to remain outside the caution tape so as not to find a derby girl thrown into their lap. It can be a rough sport, but it was a family atmosphere, complete with a prize for the youngest derby fan in attendance (eight weeks) and “Kids Push Derby Girls” intermission where tykes up to 10 years old pushed the skaters around the rink. But once the child’s play ended, it was back to the action.
The first game pitted the Holy City Heartbreakers against the Swamp Foxes who came out on top, 55 to 53. Game two saw the Heartbreakers beat the Ashley Riverdolls 73 to 27, making a fourth game unnecessary if the Swamp Foxes beat the Riverdolls in game three. It was a definite nail-biter, but the Swamp Foxes took the tournament when they inched past the Riverdolls, 36 to 35. The audience howled for their team the whole time and held up signs for their favorite derby girl. People also voted for their favorite on each team, with Dee Dee Destroyher, Green-Eyed Sniper, and Jungle Jane coming out on top.
Attendees were also treated to a performance by Homespun Hoops, and there was a raffle with prizes like a roller derby edition cruiser and a Pabst Blue Ribbon corn hole game. Proceeds benefited Lowcountry Equine Assisted Therapy (LEAP), a program that uses horse-assisted psychotherapy to help children and adults overcome abuse.
If skating, pushing and shoving, and helping charities are all things that interest you, why not get involved? Head to Hot Wheels on Thursday nights for open skate to show the ladies what you’ve got. There’s even a junior league starting this fall for girls ages 12 to 17. Rather watch from afar and avoid the bruises? You can volunteer to help out at the bouts, sponsor the team, or “adopt” a derby girl, i.e. provide financial assistance to a skater who can’t afford the equipment it takes to play. Or, you can do what thousands of others have already done and simply attend a bout. It’s not painful to watch — unless, perhaps, if you’re sitting too close to the caution tape.