Roller Derby in Jamestown, NY

March 25, 2014  •  2 Comments

Last Fall our home group from church was going to go out to dinner to this place that was about an hour away.  My wife and I wanted to go but I was videotaping something earlier in the day and wasn't sure if I'd be done in time.  I mentioned about carpooling with another couple and they said that was fine but the husband said he wanted to make sure and get back in time so he could get to the last roller derby match of the year.  I stared at him for a second waiting for the punchline, but it never came.  He was serious.  He was actually going to cut dinner short if he had to so he could get back to see the roller derby match.  To say I was a little surprised would be an understatement.

Where we live we used to be able to get Canadian TV stations over the regular antenna and I can remember when I was little sitting with my grandpa watching wrestling and roller derby matches from Canada.  The wrestling and roller derby, even to a little kid, always seemed, let's see, how can I say this, ummmm...... less than genuine.  For the roller derby I can remember women skating around this banked track with a railing and every now and then someone would give someone else an elbow to the head and they'd crumple into a heap or go flying over the railing.  I found it a bit difficult to believe that my friend, and especially his wife, were going to hustle back from a nice dinner to go to this "sporting event".

It turned out that I wasn't going to be done with my videotaping in time to go to dinner but my wife and daughters thought it might be fun to go to the roller derby with our friends.  I again stared, this time at my wife and daughters, waiting again for the punchline and once again there was none.  They too were serious.  I tried to explain to them my experience with roller derby with my grandpa and how silly I thought it was, but that only seemed to increase their interest.  My husband/father vote to not go was quickly being vetoed by my wife and two daughters.  I grudgingly relented and agreed to go to the last roller derby match of the year.

As we were entering the arena I kept saying over and over to myself, "I can't believe I'm here and paying money for this."  The local team is known as The Babes of Wrath, which I at least thought was kind of a cool name, but as I sat down and began to look at the program my eye rolling really kicked into high gear.  You see, the ladies don't use their real names but rather nicknames.  Some of the more colorful nicknames were: Leanderthal, Meg 4 Mercy, Faye Tallity, Jowanna Scrap and perhaps my favorite, Susan B. Amputee.  "Holy cow," I thought, "this is going to be worse than I thought."

As I further looked through the program I discovered that this was classified as "Women's Flat Track Roller Derby". There was no high banked track with rails for people to go flying over and into the crowd.  They instead skated on the floor right in front of the crowd.  It also appeared that this was somewhat of a real sporting event in that the winner was not decided upon before the match began.  "Okay," I thought, "at least it's got that going for it."  I found a page in the program that described the rules, which was great because I could never figure out what was actually going on with the stuff I used to watch with grandpa.

We hadn't eaten supper yet and decided to get something from the concession stand.  My roller derby lovin' friend, with whom this all started, said they had some interesting food items to choose from, which of course had interesting nicknames too.  The one thing he said we really needed to try was a little number called the "After School Special", which is really a hamburger with peanut butter and bacon.  Yup, peanut butter and bacon.  My daughter Emily, of course, thought this was just about the most magical food item she had ever heard of, the rest of us, yeah, not so much.  I, of course, ended up getting it.  It actually looked worse than it sounds.  After taking it's picture I quickly replaced the top bun.  Emily took the first bite and promptly said it was good.  You can't really go by that, though, because Emily is the one who takes all the stuff from the dessert counter at the Chinese buffet, mixes it together and says it's good.  My wife and I each tentatively took a nibble of the burger and believe it or not, it was pretty good.  No amount of coaxing, however, could get Meagan to try it.  She applied the "Just say no" policy to the "After School Special".

Once the match started I actually kind of got into it.  Knowing it was a real competition and finally understanding the rules really helped and I found myself cheering on the Babes.  (This is probably the only scenario I can think of where my wife would not frown upon me cheering for Babes :-)  )  At halftime we walked around a little and checked out the souvenir table.  There was also a table where you could find out more about becoming a Babe and how you could sign up for the roller derby training camp.  At some point I decided this whole event might make an interesting blog post but then realized that in my angst about coming to begin with I never even considered bringing along a camera.  My wife, however, did have her little point and shoot in her purse and so I tried to get a few shots to commemorate the occasion.  It was quite dark in the arena so it was tough to get a lot of action shots but I got enough to sort of give you the idea of what it was all about.

When the match was done (the Babes won, woo hoo!) my wife and oldest daughter Meagan announced to me that they had been discussing attending the roller derby training camp.  I once again stared at them waiting for the punchline.  No such luck.  "You've got to be kidding", I said.  Nope, they were serious.  "But you'll break your necks if you try and skate with these girls", I said.  "That's why you go to the training camp", retorted my wife.

Well, to make a long story short, there I was a couple of weeks later dropping off my wife and oldest daughter at the roller rink where they were doing the roller derby training camp.  The camp was going to run two nights a week for four or five weeks.  They weren't sure if they would get to all of them but they wanted to go to at least the first one to see what it was all about.  I left them with instructions to make sure and get someone to take a picture of them so we could remember this moment many years from now.  When I picked them up they said it had been fun but they weren't sure if they'd be going back.  The rink is about 40 minutes from our house and the practices didn't get done until around 10 o'clock at night which made things a little difficult.  In the end that was the only training camp practice they went to.  It was just too hard to get there that many times and being so late at night.  So for now, it would seem our roller derby adventure is over.  But, who knows?  Every now and then I hear them talking about it and wondering if maybe next time they'll give it another shot.  I just stare at them, waiting for the punchline.


My daughter Meagan and wife JoAnn, aka "Beastly Beauty" and "The Muffinator"



These were memories that will last forever! Thanks for the being apart of those memories!
Jessie Andersen(non-registered)
This was AWESOME! I am totally going to call your wife The Muffinator when I see her tomorrow! :)
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