By Casey Turton, Contributing Editor | Photos courtesy Joseph Dixon 252-521-4000
Competition, camaraderie, athleticism and commitment are the bonds that tie the Ring City Rollergirls together.
This high-energy group of 15 Eastern North Carolina women practices, travels and competes together in Roller Derby bouts held in North Carolina and surrounding states, all sanctioned by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). Kinston’s Galaxy Sport Center is their home roller rink, and thanks to the supportive ownership, features the Ring City Rollergirls logo on the beautiful hardwood floor there.
Ring City Rollergirls was founded in April 2006 by Sarah “Sara Shorty Fuse” Yoder, a graduate of East Carolina University.
Here’s a brief explanation of roller derby.
Each “bout” (game) lasts 60 minutes with a 15 minute half time break. The game essentially runs via two minute intervals known as jams. Each team fields four blockers and a Jammer, who wears a star on her helmet. The four blockers line up against the other team’s blockers and attempt to create openings for their Jammer to skate through, while simultaneously trying to stop the progress of the opposing jammer. This involves a lot of strength, conditioning and balance, skills the team works on during practices. One blocker is the crew chief, or “Pivot,” and wears a stripe on her helmet. She calls out the blocking strategy. The Jammer must make it through the wall of skaters, circle the track and then attempt to make it through the wall again. The team is awarded a point for each opposing skater she passes.
Let’s meet some of the players and find out why they got involved in the sport.
Team Captain Rebecca “Sand Witch” Greiner got involved through the encouragement of a best friend who competes in Alabama. Rebecca was living in Germany at the time, and after some procrastination (trying to work out scheduling with two children at home), joined a roller derby team. When her husband’s military career took them to North Carolina, “I found this group and they are wonderful.” Rebecca also plans practices and acts as team coach.
Chris Smith, a Director of Nursing and the team’s newest member, says she joined the team “in an effort to make new friends, maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay active.” She is also a former soccer player. Once she passes her skills assessment, she can compete and declare her own “nickname.”
Kayla “Tater” Edmondson says “I started this basically because I hate being told I can’t do something, and I was told I was too fat and sick to play,” referring to a health condition. “I have fibromyalgia and I struggle with that constantly, so this is a way I challenge myself to get out of bed, even on those days when I don’t want to.”
Sarah “Vigil Annie” Vigil-Thompson recalls her career in the U.S. Air Force involved “hanging around with guys.” Now a government contractor, she says the Ring City Rollergirls helps “get some of that aggressiveness out and I get to hang around with the ladies.”
Dr. Jessica “Violet SeizeHer” Danison is a neurologist who played Division III Women’s Ice Hockey in New York. “I grew up playing sports, playing ice hockey. I moved to Virginia later, where there was no ice hockey. A nurse I work with recruited me for roller derby, and that’s how I got into it. I love competition, but also the friendship that the sport builds.”
Kelly “GiggleBox” Rogers, is an insurance agent who joined the team in 2012. She found out about roller derby after contacting the rink to arrange a child’s birthday party. “When I started I didn’t realize how much work it was. Not like skating on a Saturday.”
Megan “Chimera” Davis Jones also cites health as a reason for joining. She read about the team in a local newspaper article, and finds emotional and personal support in team members. After some concern about playing roller derby, she found out “Holy Cow! I can do this.” She is an organic vegetable and egg farmer by trade.
Dr. Alison “Ruthless Toothless” Yeung is an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon, hence her nickname. She was recruited by Dr. Danison and now talks with a degree of pride about how she was selected MVP Blocker during a bout, after starting with essentially no skating experience. “It’s a full-contact, traditionally female-dominated sport,” she says, adding she has been competing for nearly one full year now.
Other team members include Cathy Dean Lupton, Jamie Dewitt, Sylvia “Spidey Quinn” Fuller, Emily “Emilay Her Out” Habel, Dr. Nicole “Trauma Red” Garcia, Alexis “Princess Slaya” Cavanaugh ” and Noelle “Jet Sematary” Gunn.