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Rock 'n' Roller Derby


In the foreground, Sonja Webb of the new Tri City Derby Dolls roller derby team hoists her colorful cast at practice July 5 at Skate Zone in Columbus. Members practicing included, kneeling, from left, Hayley Gilmore, Megan Dareing, Kaitlin Davison and Tarina Trzebiatowski. Standing, from left, are Stephanie Gieseler, Marsi Hardin, Sarah Wilson, Lauren Lowrey, Jenny Sullivan, Misti Hudson, Coach Bruce Wright and Katie Coffey. About 20-25 women from around the Golden Triangle have joined the new Derby Dolls.

In the foreground, Sonja Webb of the new Tri City Derby Dolls roller derby team hoists her colorful cast at practice July 5 at Skate Zone in Columbus. Members practicing included, kneeling, from left, Hayley Gilmore, Megan Dareing, Kaitlin Davison and Tarina Trzebiatowski. Standing, from left, are Stephanie Gieseler, Marsi Hardin, Sarah Wilson, Lauren Lowrey, Jenny Sullivan, Misti Hudson, Coach Bruce Wright and Katie Coffey. About 20-25 women from around the Golden Triangle have joined the new Derby Dolls. Photo by: Luisa Porter


Launch Photo Gallery


At the coach’s whistle, Tarina Trzebiatowski, Jenny Sullivan, Lauren Lowrey and Marsi Hardin strike off.


Doing stretches at Monday’s practice are, from left, Hayley Gilmore, Marsi Hardin and Megan Dareing. Jenny Sullivan has her colorful socks on, ready to hit the track after warming up.


The Tri City Dolls' team logo



Jan Swoope



Weaving, shoving, blocking, falling. So, maybe it''s not every girl''s idea of a fun sport. But a unique band of Golden Triangle women with heart, nerve and flare think roller derby might just fill the bill. 


In three short months since their first interest meeting on Easter Sunday, the Tri-City Derby Dolls have armed themselves with an official logo, team T-shirts, a dues system, regular practice schedule, fundraiser plans and the all-important "derby names." 


By day, they''re mothers, nurses, college students, waitresses and chiropractic clinic workers. But two evenings each week, they strap on the quad-skates and gamely try on bits and pieces of their still-new alter egos -- like "Tarinasaurus Wrecks," "Molly Toff" or "She Who Must Not Be Tamed." 


Megan Dareing ("Linchpin Luci") of Columbus is credited with getting the wheels rolling on the fledgling team. 


"I''d joked around about it before. But I was watching the movie ''Whip It'' with my boyfriend and said I''d start a team. The next day I thought, ''I can''t turn back now,''" she said. 


With the help of Facebook, e-mail and flyers, Megan spread the word. To date, about 20 to 25 women with varying levels of skating skill have shown real interest in the start-up team, which practices at Skate Zone in Columbus on Monday evenings and Skate Odyssey in Starkville on Thursday evenings. 


One of those skaters is 23-year-old Jenny Sullivan, admiringly labeled "hardcore" by a few of her teammates. The New Orleans native, a self-described former "military kid," is experienced, having played street hockey, roller hockey and later ice hockey for several years. 


"It takes a different kind of person," the Columbus resident said when asked about what it takes to embrace this aggressive sport. "It takes a lot of heart. The average person is not going to want to run into people and fall down all the time," she grinned.  




On track, on stage 


Roller derby is part fast-paced contact sport, part sports entertainment. In most leagues (there are about 500 worldwide), these high heels on wheels are encouraged to play up the camp or punk aspect.  


Dressed out in striped socks, short pleated skirt, purple tights and nails to match at practice Monday, Jenny seems to exhilarate in the drills and games of "Red Light, Green Light," as the girls test their quick starts and stops. 


"It''s kind of a derby tradition that everybody dresses funny," she remarked. "I kind of want to get in the habit of wearing the short skirts now, I just want to go ahead and get comfortable with it." 


The dress and derby names add a theatrical element for the participants that "normal life" may not afford, noted Megan. 




Comes with the territory 


Sonja Webb ("Sonja Blade") would normally be on the track with the others. For now, she''s watching and cheering them on, sidelined with a broken arm, a souvenir from a previous practice. Ironically, it''s the left arm; mimicking the pin-up style skater depicted on Tri-City''s logo. 


The medical assistant and mother of two from Columbus takes her injury in stride. It''s the sixth broken bone for this 33-year-old who once raised horses with her dad. 


"I was a veterinarian technician for six years, and that was a pretty tough job. At least here I don''t have to worry about anything biting me," she laughed. 




Boot camp 


As the Derby Dolls organized, help came in the form of the Southern Misfits out of Hattiesburg. That roller derby team sent members up to conduct a boot camp.  


"It was awesome," said Tarina Trzebiatowski ("Tarinasaurus Wrecks"). They gave us guidelines, told what we needed to do physically and how much dedication it would take to get to a point to ever compete. It was very empowering." 


The Misfits introduced the Dolls to how the game (bout) is played and how to fall, and threw in some helpful hints -- like wearing two pairs of leggings to prevent "rink rash." 


The Tri City team is coached by Bruce Wright. 


"Good job, good job!" he praised Monday, as skaters wrapped up a drill in which they rotated at different offensive and defensive positions -- as jammers, pivots and pack members. During breaks, some girls do stretches, some leg lifts, and one, push-ups. 


Bruce, 25, has lived in Columbus for about 10 years; he works with a landscape contractor and came to this coaching position through his friend, Megan.  


"I told Megan I''d turn her marshmallows into freight trains," he grinned. "My goal is to keep them moving almost the whole practice. ... This team is a family; that''s what I try to inspire in them." 




Open door 


The Dolls encourage anyone interested to watch a practice to see if the sport appeals to them. E-mail [email protected] for details. "You don''t even have to have skates; you can rent those from the rinks," Megan said. 


The group hopes to be ready for a scrimmage with "fresh meat" (beginning players) from another league -- perhaps from Hattiesburg, Jackson or Birmingham, Ala. -- within six to 12 months.  


Megan explained, "We''d eventually like to find a practice space that we could rent-to-own, maybe; a place dedicated for our practice and actual bouts." For now, dues of $20 per month per member help pay for facility rentals. Sponsorships from supporters would be most welcome. 


"This sport is really fun and gives us a chance to work out our frustrations. We''re Southern ladies but this gives us a chance to be a little bit more dangerous," Sonja said, with a hint of mischief. 


Jenny summed up, "When will we ever get the opportunity to do this again? I guess we could all pick something like golf or tennis or swimming ... but it''s not nearly as colorful."


Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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Reader Comments

Article Comment [email protected] commented at 7/11/2010 9:42:00 PM:

Wow, so the skating rink allows Roller Derby girls but turned down the YMCA's kids for roller hockey. Thanks for the community contribution


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 7/13/2010 9:29:00 AM:

Awww Peter, doing a little censorship thing, are we?? How Imes-ish of you.

As mentioned before, nothing says "I'm a hick city" like "rasslin' on wheels".

So how does it feel being in the company of people like Stalin and Hitler with your censorship thingy Peter Imes??


Article Comment nother commented at 7/13/2010 11:00:00 AM:

@debby9: The practices aren't free. The team has to pay rent to the rinks, just like anyone else. These girls are putting blood, sweat, and money to build this team. They wanted it bad enough to make it happen. If you want kids' roller hockey bad enough, you will too.


Article Comment rollergirl86 commented at 7/13/2010 4:42:00 PM:

First of all as a member of the Derby Dolls I'm sorry that you couldn't get roller hockey for the YMCA kids, that's not cool. And as for Roller Derby being "rasslin' on wheels" and it being a statement of living in a hick city, some of the largest cities in America have Roller derby teams, like L.A, New Orleans, New York, Kanas City, Memphis, Nashville- It's literally all over the U.S, and it's not like we body slam each other and throw elbows and it's not nearly as cheesy as movies and TV have made it out to be. We are a bunch of women having fun and playing a sport we love, that's it.


Article Comment sleepless commented at 7/13/2010 5:23:00 PM:

"hick city"?? It's not rural towns that have roller derby - it's large cities ... Los Angeles, St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, Birmingham, Jackson and hundreds more. It's an organized sport, with rules and regulations. It's actually cool to see these girls try to get something going here in the Triangle. Good luck! Looks like hard work, but fun, and good physical and mental exercise. Rinks? They're not donating their space. These adults pay to rent a rink for one practice a week. Keep it up, ladies. Keep skatin'.


Article Comment kitsune2903 commented at 7/14/2010 4:50:00 PM:

To be honest, Roller Derby wasn't the sport it is today. It became popular during The Great Depression to compete with the Dance Marathons (there's even history of it before then).

And another thing... We're hicks that 'rassal of wheels? I don't think of anyone on my team as a hick and last time I checked, there aren't any WWE moves that we do like actual body slamming. We participate in a sport just like everyone else that has rules and regulations that are followed.

For you people to shut out this sport because you don't understand it or it goes against social norms is...Well, just as hick as you say we are. I'm proud to be apart of a sport that doesn't degrade women like having them prance around on stage in a swimsuit.


Article Comment alice commented at 7/15/2010 10:49:00 AM:

Thank you America for free speech.

Not everyone is going to agree with everything said.

If the YMCA wants to do roller hockey for free contact the city of Starkville. There is an out door rink in Moncrief park NOT being used! All you need to do is talk to them about turning on lights for practice/games. ITS FREE! These roller girls are PAYING for rink time. PAYING! Its states that in the article. Its about $800 a month. plus equipment. They do bake sales, car washes, etc. IF you want something... Do the same! They worked a couple of months before they could even have money to start. I feel for you, I do. Please don't stop trying!! The kids are everything!

As for the hick comment... Stop... really. Are you 12? ALL these girls have a college degree or are getting one! And most large cities in the U. S. and Europe have teams. Wrestling... I don't think any of these girls would be caught dead in a thong bikini glistening in oil! They get penalties for crazy wrestling moves... And for cussing!!! ITS A FAMILY SPORT! PG! Do you knock Rugby and lacrosse too? Just because its new to you doesn't give you a right to knock it. That is very hick of you to pass judgment like that.

Making fun of Peter Imes... Do you know him? I'm sure he's doing what he's told in his editing... We all do what we have to to eat buddy.

No one has to agree with everything, but I'm sure there are things you do that most don't...


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