By Terry Rogers
“Uncivil War: Delaware’s North vs. South,” the first bout for Southern Delaware Roller Girls, was held on Saturday, September 8. The bout, set to coincide with the Grand Re-Opening of Milford Skating Center and Milford’s Riverwalk Freedom Festival, pitted Milford’s Southern Delaware Roller Girls against Christiana’s Diamond State Roller Girls, who took home the win in this exciting, physical sport.
The Southern Delaware Roller Girls (SDRG), organized by Jessica Farley in April 2011, has 34 members, 14 of which are considered “bout ready.” The club includes skaters with varying skill levels. Not all members who join choose to participate in the bouts, as they get very physical, and many of these are referees or Non-Skating Officials (NSO). All members say that the organization provides an excellent way to workout in a unique fashion.
Angie “Gorelee Girl” Colone, the President and Head Coach of SDRG originally joined the group for what she calls a “Mommy Hobby,” simply a way to get out of the house. What she found after joining was that not only did the practices provide her with an excellent source of exercise, but it has also caused her to live a healthier lifestyle.
“We skate at least six hours per week, and I expect the girls to do some sort of workouts at home even when we are not practicing,” Colone stated. “Some of the girls joined for the athletic nature of the sport, while others enjoy the exercise but are not comfortable with the whipping and hitting that goes on during bouts, so they become NSO’s. All of us do this to stay active and exercise.”
A Roller Derby bout begins with “The Pack,” which consists of four blockers from each team and one “Jammer” from each team taking off at the sound of a whistle. The Jammers, who have stars on their helmets, try to race through the Pack, scoring points for each opposing team member they pass. Jams last two minutes, and there are penalties that can be assessed during the Jams. The bouts are not like those that many may remember from the 1970’s, when Roller Derby was popular, as they are less theatrical and more athletic than in the past.
Husbands and boyfriends of the members are affectionately known as “Derby Widows” for their support of the women who belong. The women in SDRG come from many different lifestyles, careers, shapes and sizes. Boyfriends and husbands must accept that the women travel to other cities, both for bouts and to assist other clubs with their bouts or practices. Unlike the Roller Derby that many may remember from the 1970’s, the group focuses strongly on safety, and they actually delayed their first bout until they were sure the girls were completely bout ready.
SDRG also offers tremendous community support. They often perform in parades in order to demonstrate skating skills. In March, they put on a fashion show at Atlantic Sands in Rehoboth called “Wheels and Heels,” dressing in fashions from local stores and showing them wearing both their skates and high heels. In December, they held a food drive for the Delaware Food Bank and have held fundraisers for the SPCA as well. All proceeds after expenses are donated to charity. The girls also try to attend as many open skates at Milford Skating Center as they can.
Although girls must be 18 to bout, younger girls may join and become NSO’s, enabling them to thoroughly learn the rules and further focus on safety. SDRG practices on Monday, Thursday and Saturday at Milford Skating Center, and new members, affectionately known as “Fresh Meat,” are always welcome. Practices include skating assessments, skills, safety and rules knowledge training. Recruitment clinics are scheduled for Sunday, September 16 and Sunday, September 30 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Milford Skating Center.
Tickets for “Uncivil War” were sold out by September 6, indicating how popular the sport has become. The next bout for SDRG is scheduled on October 27 and will be an away bout against Free State Roller Derby club in Rockville, Maryland. For tickets or more information, contact Milford Skating Center.