Charlotte Speed Demons look to bring new eyes to roller derby
Ditch the phony uniforms and glamorized, often borderline-risqué names. The women of the Charlotte Speed Demons are here to show the Queen City – and the world of roller derby – they mean business, but they don’t hit below the belt.
The first season for the new flat-track roller derby team in town is going to plan so far: two bouts, two victories.
Team member Tara Van Genderen knows many people’s image of roller derby includes crude names and skimpy, sometimes gothic uniforms, but the Charlotte Speed Demons carry themselves very much as a professional athletic franchise. For players and coaches, this isn’t a show or something to take lightly. They’re out to win while setting an example of sportsmanship, Van Genderen, a 31-year-old Matthews resident, said. An East Mecklenburg High School graduate, Van Genderen joined the team two years ago after seeing a billboard advertisement. She has a master’s degree in sports management but works as a service and technical coordinator for Nexcom Group cellular service.
And she doesn’t want you to compare the sport to Drew Barrymore’s recent film “Whip It.”
“They weren’t really big enforcers of the rules in that movie,” she said. “You can’t just go up and elbow someone in the face. There’s no tripping either.”
Player Rebecca Bailey agrees.
“It’s important to present the sport to young children as something that’s professional and clean … no offensive names, hopefully no behavior or costumes that are offensive,” said the mother of three and a senior vice president at Bank of America. “We want it viewed as a true sport and respected, especially for young girls.”
When teammate Page Lee’s two kids, Lee Cosby, 8, and Isabel Cosby, 10, get ready to head to bed for the night, she’s getting ready for practice. But on game days, Lee and Isabel are in the crowd cheering on their mom as she gets to work as one of the team’s blockers.
“They have noisemakers, all the same fun fan things kids enjoy,” said Lee, a south Charlotte resident. “I enjoy looking up and seeing them.”
Teams are made up of five players. First, there’s the pivot, who wears a helmet cover with a stripe on it. She is the leader of her teammates playing in the “jam,” as the lineup is known, according to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.
Then, there are three blockers, who try to stop the other team from scoring while freeing up their scorer – that’s Van Genderen’s position. The team’s scorer is known as a jammer, who must lap the pack to gain points. She gets one point for every opposing blocker she passes legally, according to the derby association’s website, http://wftda.com.
Since they aren’t sanctioned yet, the Speed Demons can’t win this year’s championship, but they can make a name for themselves by continuing to crush the competition. Their next home bout is Saturday, March 26. It’s nice playing at home because the team doesn’t have a jet or even a bus to get to away bouts.
“We carpool,” Lee said. “But someday I’ll be expecting a bus.”
Want to go?
The Charlotte Speed Demons will battle the Greenville Derby Dames at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 26 at the First Ward Recreation Center 610 E. 7th St. in Charlotte. Tickets range from $8 to $10.
Find more information online at http://racecityrollerderby.com.