Rollergirls Rock the Rink
by Kate McElroy
Every Tuesday and Thursday night, 18-year-old Magnolia “Death Blossom” Gramling suits up in kneepads, roller skates, and a helmet for a battle royale at the SkateBox in Bowling Green, Ky.
As a member of the Bowling Green Hot Broads—one of two roller derby teams in the area—Gramling dedicates this time to preparing for the team’s next bout.
In order to train, Gramling practices quick, fluid skating around a flat oval track while incorporating falls, whips, and skate-bumps into the regimen. The end result? Nasty bruises and gruesome skid burns to boast about.
“We’re proud of our bruises,” said fellow team member Rachel “Patti Whack” Walston.
In fact, she and the other skaters apologize when their bruises aren’t up to par.
These contact injuries are common. Morgan Barby, otherwise known as “Brickhouse Barby,” said that she is a “klutz”.
“I’ve learned to love my chiropractor,” Barby said.
Gramling agreed that when participating in such a brutal sport, rollergirls have to expect some injuries. “I’ve seen people go down hard,” she said.
Even though falling, sliding, and bruising happen frequently in the world of roller derby, major injuries are rare. Walston said that so far she had seen only a broken ankle and a shifted kneecap.
Despite the dangerous nature of such a brutal sport, Gramling is not fazed. She said that she plans to continue participating in the roller derby.
“I can’t imagine not,” she said.
Gramling is not the only one on the league who is dedicated to roller derby. “I’ve been skating since I could walk,” said Leighann “Lele” Kuntz. “Anything to do with skating, I’m in.” Kuntz has taken part in several roller derby leagues in the past.
The rollergirls receive no payment for their participation in the roller derby other than admirable bruises and lasting friendships, but this is enough for them.
“It’s an amazing group of women,” said Barby.
Gramling added that “feeling good physically” is an enjoyable part of roller derby.
Gramling is confident about public response to the league. “A lot of people aren’t taking this seriously right now, but it’ll come up and surprise them all.”
Roller Derby Sidebar
1 Jammer – Point-scorer
3 Blockers – Defense
1 Pivot – A blocker who may become a jammer later on
Jammer – ★★ – two stars
Blocker – (no cover)
Pivot – = – stripes
A bout consists of two 30-min periods with as many 2 min jams as the teams can fit in the period.
Bout – a match
Jam – a two-minute countdown; when point-scoring occurs
Pack – pivots + blockers from both teams