With colorful skates, bold personalities and unwavering determination, the Derby Demons are hard at work preparing for their season’s final skirmish at the end of the month.
The Derby Demons, founded in April of 2011, consist of both experienced and novice female skaters in the Middle Georgia area. When watching them during practice, it is not difficult to tell that the women have a strong sense of camaraderie and pride for their sport.
In roller derby, two 15-skater teams compete against each other in a “bout,” or match, comprised of two 30-minute periods. There are three player positions: jammer, blocker and pivot. The jammer’s goal is to pass the blockers to score points, the blockers attempt to prevent the other team’s jammer from passing the pack and pivots are the only position that can switch from jammer to blocker.
The sport experienced a resurgence in the early 2000s, and there are now several hundred teams across the world, according to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. Roller derby is a largely female-dominated sport, allowing players to defy stereotypes of how women are supposed to act.
For Jamie Wall, who also goes by the derby name “Wreck-It-Rae,” breaking down gender norms is one of the things she loves most about being a player.
“It is a full-contact sport,” Wall said. “People do get hurt and at no point does anyone look at us less feminine if we want to be feminine. If we don't want to be feminine, we don't have to be feminine. We can be anything that we want to be.”
Another aspect Wall enjoys about roller derby is how easy it is to get involved regardless of skill level.
“You don't have to be super-uber thin or fit. I mean, we're all fit once we start playing, but all different sizes … make up a fantastic team,” Wall said. “We all bring different skills to the table, so somebody might be really fast, but somebody else might be really strong.”
For those who are ready to lace up their skates and join the team, the process of becoming a full team member can be challenging for those who have never skated before; however, according to coach Dawn “Your Worst Nitemare” Grice, the Derby Demons are willing to help out newbies.
“We'll walk you through it when you get on skates. Then build you up where you could actually move safely by yourself,” Grice said.
Last year, the team also held a boot camp in the spring for women interested in roller derby.
On Oct. 26, the team will compete in their final scrimmage of the season at 6th Annual Halloween Mash-Up at Gray-8-Skate. Tickets are $10 for adults, and doors open at 6 p.m. with the first whistle at 7 p.m.
As far as spectating goes, an administrator for the Derby Demons, Laurel “Dr. Who’s Yer Momma” Cordell, said this scrimmage is a good entry point for those who are new with roller derby.
“The thing about roller derby is that it’s unlike any other sport you'll see ... It's a great place to see a strong group of women working together," Cordell said. “In all honesty, this one is just fun.”
To purchase tickets for the Halloween Mash-Up or learn more about the Derby Demons, visit their website or find them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Mary Helene Hall is a junior majoring in journalism. She is a Presidential Media Change Maker Scholar who has worked consistently for The Cluster throughout her time at Mercer. Mary Helene has received accolades for her work from National Public Radio, Discord, the Georgia College Press Association, and more. When she’s not working on a story, you can catch her reading a good book or enjoying the outdoors on Mercer’s campus.