By Madison Fisler Lewis
Jan. 5, 2015. After five years, The Appalachian Rollergirls, the High Country’s women’s flat track roller derby team, has the nuances of the game figured out. They have weekly meetings and practices, they have alter egos and formal matches with fierce competitors that draw crowds wherever they go. But this year, the team has gained a substantial amount of new faces eager to skate hard and take titles.
Appalachian State University now boasts a women’s roller derby club, and with the formation of that organization, the Appalachian Rollergirls have seen huge growth.
“We just started an Appalachian roller derby league through Appalachian State University and that gained us 20 extra players,” said Appalachian Rollergirls President Ashley Laws.
“They are about to be assessed through our ‘Fresh Meat’ program. They have been through 12 weeks of training, and they will be assessed and then they will be able to practice with the team soon.”
Appalachian Rollergirls’ “Fresh Meat” program is the organization’s introductory program to the world of women’s flat-track roller derby. The 12-week program is meant to help those hoping to be a part of Appalachian Rollergirls to learn about the sport, understand rules and regulations and become more competitive before being allowed on the team.
“We try to do it at least three times a year to get new girls involved,” said Laws. “Starting with the new ASU club, we gained about 20 extra girls and they have been working really hard during our off-season. We have been training them and we use it as a way to encourage new players to join.”
Today, the team has about 40 participants who practice and compete with the Appalachian Rollergirls. With the upcoming season, practice is about to begin for returning members of the team.
“We will have Sunday morning practices from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and on Tuesdays from 6-9 p.m. at Skateworld,” Laws said. “We have the 2015 season mapped out, but we haven’t released the schedule yet. That will be coming out soon.”
Though the complete schedule has yet to be released, The Appalachian Rollergirls have confirmed that the 2015 season will begin holding bouts in March. This season comes hot on the heels of last year’s winning streak, and the team hopes to do even better this year.
“We lost a couple in the beginning of the season last year,” Laws said. “But then we got on this awesome winning streak. It was great, and we are hoping to do it again this year.”
If you think you are ready to strap on your fishnets and become an Appalachian Rollergirl yourself, Laws maintains that the team is always taking new participants. To participate, simply contact the girls at www.AppalachianRollergirls.com or just come visit the team at any practice at Skateworld.
“If they are an experienced skater, they are welcome to come and try out for the team,” Laws said. “If they aren’t experienced, we always encourage new girls to check out the ‘Fresh Meat’ program to learn what it is all about.”
The Appalachian Rollergirls team was founded in the spring of 2010 by ASU student, Jordan Coats. She posted to Facebook about an interest in starting a team, and through word of mouth interest grew until the first meeting when more than 80 ladies came out to participate.
In 2014, the team was officially accepted into Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, the big leagues for women’s roller derby. Even though the team has grown much since the beginning, the group still maintains that it is all about encouraging female athleticism, empowerment and community awareness through various activities and events throughout the year.
“It is a great sense of community and a big sisterhood,” Laws said. “I have 40 best friends that I wouldn’t have found otherwise. We are all different, but once we are on the track we are there to support each other. It is a great athletic event and a great stress reliever. We do all that we can to help each other.”
In addition to the time that each participant dedicates to practices, meetings and bouts, the Rollergirls still find time to give back to the community.
“We try to do something community related every month,” Laws said. “Over the holiday we sponsored a family of three girls in the community and gave them Christmas presents and clothes. We love to give back to our community.”
For more information about the Appalachian Rollergirls, tickets for bouts or the upcoming roller derby season, click here.