Somehow, despite the noise and commotion of the crowds, these amazing women manage to keep their skates within the yellow lines that mark the edges of the flat track. Fans watch from metal bleachers that line exterior walls of the Ohio Building, at the Ohio State Fair Grounds. The last time I was there it was during the fair, and I’d seen booth after booth of Ohio meats – locally raised pork, chicken and beef.
The atmosphere was quite different at the Ohio Roller Derby’s season opener.
This time around, my first time at the Ohio Roller Derby, athletes were warming up and concession stands were stocked with nachos and cheap beer. I could not wait to see what happened next!. Helmets, elbow pads, knee pads, and mouth guards let me know, along with all the other 1st time attendees and season ticket holders, that this could get ugly!
The Competition is Fierce!
The Ohio Roller Derby is ranked 31 in the world. This bout was against the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes, ranked 56th. According to the team’s website, they had never played each other, before this season. The opposing team definitely showed up, knew the rules and their roles, and were ready to take on Ohio for the first time. There is no question that these teams of athletes are trained to put on a show, and to stop their opponents from making it past a tough defense. Arms locked, knees bent, and skaters grounded, both of the teams were ready to get started!
The Ink. . .
There was a lot of ink in the building! It was in the audience, and on the athletes & the officials. Colorfully bold or intricately detailed, on legs, arms, backs and shoulders, the tattoos peeked out from under the athletic tanks and the fishnet stockings of the skaters. Green hair, coming out from under helmets, matched the uniforms and the tattoos that expressed the personality and unique flair of the skaters. When it comes to tattoos, there’s a story behind every one, whether it’s a story about personal triumph and transformation, or whimsy and body decorations. These women must be full of stories!
Tough as nails!
The celebrations are real, the victories are celebrated, and it’s with real passion and determination that these woman make their way around the track. It’s raw emotion when points are scored, and there’s no holding back! I could be mistaken, but I did not see any penalties for excessive celebration, though the pride reverberates through the team and the crowd.
As a local, grassroots organization Ohio Roller Derby is 100% volunteer run, from skaters to medics to scorekeepers. There were no shortage of referees at the event. Easily spotted in the traditional black and white stripes, their eyes were on every move the skaters made, along with several other scorekeepers around the building. The OHRD website explains that in addition to attending most scrimmages and bouts, volunteer referees must be able to skate, or be willing to learn. After being trained in the rules of the game, referees are then expected to study the rules outside of practice, to keep their knowledge sharp!
The action moved quickly! Before I knew it, the bout was over and it was time to bring out the “B team”, to get some experience under their belts. Their match might have even been a bit more intense, because it was somewhat less disciplined. Inexperience can breed dangerous, unexpected behavior! In my martial arts days I remember everyone said she would rather fight a seasoned black belt than a recent green belt. The former might be more technically skilled, but she is, at the same time, more controlled . . . and predictable.
I can definitely say I’ll be back, if only to see if that sentiment is lasting!
Join me on my next Adventure,
Ohio Roller Girls: http://ohiorollergirls.com/
The Basics of Roller Derby: http://ohiorollergirls.com/about-roller-derby/
100% Volunteer Run: http://ohiorollergirls.com/become-a-volunteer/