Roller-derby league debut brings plenty of glitz and hits
While approaching The Rollercade on a Sunday night, the last thing I expected to see was a line snaking out the door, through the parking lot, and around the corner, with minimal parking to be found. I soon discovered that the Alamo City Rollergirls attract a vibrant, packed crowd no matter the venue or day of the week.
Dubbed the Sugar Skull Skuffle, San Antonio’s first roller-derby exhibition showcased a group of pleasantly brash and self-confident women with a passion for competition. Brandishing fishnet stockings, tattoos, pigtails, and flashy outfits, these girls scream attitude.
The Alamo City Rollergirls are one of the newest flat-track skating leagues popping up all over the country `see Born to roll, July 21-27`. They began practices in May after co-founders Kat “Kitty Glitter” Perez and Cate “Nita Spankin” Compton observed the Texas Rollergirls competing in Austin. “I felt San Antonio needed to be tumbled around a little,” Perez says. “People are constantly complaining that there’s nothing to do in San Antonio, and this is a new opportunity. If you look around, there are so many different age groups and classes of people here tonight.”
The Alamo City competitors split into two teams for scrimmage purposes in their first exhibition. The league itself is made up of four official teams. Sunday night pitted the Black Attack against the Mean Greens, with Perez and Compton squaring off as opposing captains. Creative roller-derby names ranged from Kermit the Flogger and Crushin’ Roulette to Satan Speed.
| During the exhibition,
it wasn’t uncommon for a glitzed-up
rollergirl to take a spill and come
hurtling into your lap.
For the roller illiterate, a list of down ’n’ derby terms and definitions clears any haze surrounding the game’s object. Teams are comprised of a maximum of five girls on the track from each side; one pivot, three blockers, and one jammer. Each team lines up with players in their respective positions, side by side with the competition. The pivot sets the pace for the pack, providing the last line of defense against the opposing team’s jammer. Blockers follow closely behind their team’s pivot, attempting to clear space for their own jammer while preventing the opposing team’s jammer from getting through. The jammer sprints through the pack scoring points by passing members of the opposing team.
During the exhibition, it wasn’t uncommon for a glitzed-up rollergirl to take a spill and come hurtling into your lap. Since the track is created using a ring of lights around the flat skating rink, fans are encouraged to sit extremely close to the action, with only a strip of colored tape separating partisans and scuffling skaters. When skaters got shoved on the turns, they careened into the crowd. When a speeding jammer’s skates were knocked out from under her, she landed face-first on the floor. During the halftime period, a genuine fight broke out between two rollergirls. The action never let up.
Initially, scoring can be difficult to follow. Although different headgear is worn to denote position, most fans cannot tell when points are scored in each jam and instead rely on the officials’ signals. The scoreboard is updated at the end of each two-minute jam, sometimes after conferencing by officials. Black Attack jumped out to an early 12-6 score after the first jam, holding onto the lead until the sixth, the final jam before halftime. The Mean Greens tied the game at 34-34 and took the halftime lead over Black Attack 46-44. Black Attack proved unable to overcome the late first-half surge by the opposition, and the final score was Mean Greens 96, Black Attack 72.
Regular bouts featuring the league’s four official teams will begin in March and run through September. Contests will be held on the third Sunday of each month, with location to be decided. Compton said bouts will be on an intra-league basis for the time being, but that a traveling All-Star team is a possibility down the road. Compton said they encourage interested skaters to come by a practice to see what the sport is all about. (Info can be found at alamocityrollergirls.com.) “We are always looking for new skaters,” said Compton. “All that we ask is that you are 21 or older and have some form of insurance.”
If Sunday night’s exhibition was any indication, you’ll probably need that insurance. •