By Katie Benfield
They’re bad, rad and fight like mad — the Appalachian Rollergirls are tougher than nails, and they never cease to prove it. With names like Honey Boom Boom and Hell Earnhardt, you know this roller derby team of more than 30 girls is not one you want to cross.
Not only are these skaters passionate about the physically challenging sport that is roller derby, but they’re also focused on several other things, especially giving back to the community and female empowerment.
According to Mallory Sadler, also known as Honey Boom Boom, co-captain of the team, the Appalachian Rollergirls has been a non-profit organization since 2010 that wants to give back to its wonderful community right here in Boone.
“We are an all-female run organization. We are for skaters by skaters. Everything that we do, we organize from the bottom up and we try to give back to the community as much as possible,” Sadler said. “We try to volunteer as often as we can. Each of our bouts has a specific charity we raise money for, and all the proceeds go straight to those charities.”
The upcoming bout, which is a double-header on Saturday, Aug. 22, will benefit the High Country Local First. This charity supports local businesses that are currently thriving in Boone, along with businesses that are trying to get up and running in the High Country.
Along with the community involvement, Sadler said that it’s much more than just a roller derby team full of women who love to skate. She said it’s a family, and each one of them wants to symbolize and represent female empowerment.
“It’s great for little girls to see us because girls don’t have a lot of physical sports,” Sadler said. “Being such a role model in the community is fantastic. We give it all we have. You’ll see girls hit girls, and we all leave feeling bruised and battered but really awesome. It’s so intense and physical.”
Sadler said that growing up, she was one of those little girls that was never into physical sports. Although her dad tried hard to get her interested in sports of all kinds, she found it uninteresting until she saw a poster for the local roller derby team in Athens, Georgia where she went to school. She attended the boot camp for the team there, and even though she fell upwards of 100 times, she fell in love with it instantly.
“The team there was great, and I loved it, and I’m still friends with a lot of them,” Sadler said. “But the team here in Boone is amazing. Everyone you meet in Boone is the nicest person you’ve ever met.
“Our team is like a family. We empower each other, we push each other, we’re there for each other in derby and in real life. We’re a very cohesive unit.”
With practices that amount to six hours per week, plus traveling for bouts to all different cities, carpooling and staying in hotel rooms together, Sadler said that the team is around each other more often than they’re around their other friends or even their families.
“It’s really blood, sweat and tears,” she said. “You honestly make friends as soon as you join the team.”
Additionally, there is never an off-season for the team, so they are working with and for each other year-round. The season begins in January and ends sometime in October, whenever the last bout of the season is. Then, as soon as it’s over, practice begins again, along with scrimmages between teams.
This year, the last bout of the season is on October 24. However, until then, there are several bouts in which attendance is welcome by people of all-ages, one being the double-header this upcoming Saturday.
“We are a very family-friendly event,” Sadler said. “We have stuff for people of all ages to do, even face-painting for kids.”
The upcoming bout is a special event for two reasons. For one, both the A and B teams are playing in the double header. For the B team, the Boone Shiners, this will be their first bout since they have become eligible to skate.
“It’s like watching your kids grow up,” Sadler said. “We are really excited to watch them and we’re very proud of them.”
For another reason, the team that the Appalachian Rollergirls are competing against is Sadler’s old team from Athens. The teams have gone to tournaments together, and according to Sadler, they are strong sister teams with each other.
“It’s going to be a really intense and tough game,” she said. “We both really want to win.”
The bouts on Saturday, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Holmes Convocation Center, are going to be adrenaline-pumping and fast-paced, and without a doubt, the rollergirls will continue to support one another and full-contact sports for women, and nobody should want to miss that.
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