What it takes to be a roller derby girl


Whoever said it shouldn’t have, and it’s unlikely they’ll do it again in the presence of Tammy Joe Hallman.

Better known by her derby alias, Dixie Thrash, Hallman is the head coach of the Birmingham roller derby squad The Tragic City Rollers. And in the middle of conducting a practice built around the right ways to take a hit, is one of the last words Hallman wanted to hear.

not a rink, it’s a track, Cheap Jerseys china she yelled at the 15 or so women standing around her at Skates 280. are where little girls twirl. is no twirling in roller derby.

You could try, but odds are slim you’d make it through one revolution before being smashed into a wall or knocked to the floor.

Roller derby is based on speed and pain. Matches are called bouts. Ninety percent of the time, these places are overrun with teens and little kids, especially twirling little girls mouthing the words to the latest Justin Bieber song.

But when the rinks are transformed into derby tracks, it’s quick, and takes place the moment two squads line up alongside one another for the first jam.

The women lining up go through a similar transformation.

Since its inception in the 1930s, a culture has formed within the sport of roller derby. A big part of that culture involves what the derby skaters are wearing when its time to hit the track.

While they don jerseys and protective equipment as in other sports, everything else is left up to the skaters. Many incorporate elements of punk and Goth style into their ensemble, with neon dyed hair; tattoos; frilly, short skirts; and heavy eye shadow. Others play it straight, with little makeup and athletic shorts.

Derby skaters are also required to come up with an alias. More often than not, the names they choose involve a violent pun or a play on words having to do with roller derby.

Rollers team member Shannon Utter’s alias, Utter Kaos, is pretty easy to figure out, but others, like Kelly Kinder’s Assault E. Senorita and Miriam Norris’ Indigo Ego are a bit more layered.

husband used to call me a broad and I really love Mexican food and margaritas, so it just made sense to go with Assault E. Senorita, Kinder said.

Norris based her alias on her background in art.

of the dyes I used to work with a lot was indigo, which is sort of a purple, bruise like color, so I wanted to work that into my derby name, she said. also wanted a name that rhymed. So what I ended up with was Indigo Ego, which ended up meaning that what I do on the track is give someone a bruised ego. uniform/costume hybrids and aliases of derby culture offer something that no other sport does. It gives women a chance to take part in tough competition while expressing themselves and celebrating their womanhood.

enjoy being able to dress up. I dress as crazy as I want to, said Norris, a Tragic City Roller since January who lives in Tuscaloosa and manages the Paul R. Jones Collections of American Art at the University of Alabama. a really great, competitive sport that you get to play dress up in as well. What’s not to like? Plus, I’ve always liked tights and socks, and this gives me an excuse to keep buying them.

Finding roller derby

The white tank top, short skirt and black stockings Utter wore for a recent team practice are a far cry from the scrubs she wears as a nurse at Trinity Medical Center in Birmingham.

And going up against girls twice her size on the track is something the people that know her best never thought she could do.

mom was even telling me I wasn’t tough enough to do roller derby, Utter said laughing.

Oddly enough, the emergency room at Trinity is where the Vernon native first heard about the Tragic City Rollers.

heard about roller derby for the first time about five years ago when my husband and I were in Huntsville for a beer tasting, she said. of a sudden these derby girls rolled up in a limousine and crashed the party and I just thought that was really cool and I wished there was a team to join closer to me. a month ago, roller derby found her again.

heard the nurses saying there were some roller derby girls in the emergency room, she said. of them had gotten hurt and they told me about the team. injured player’s presence in the ER didn’t discourage Utter’s desire to play.

told them, don’t care if you’re here hurt because of it or not. I want to do it,’ she said.

Kinder doesn’t dress up much for derby bouts. Since she joined the Rollers in July last year, her attraction to derby has always been the sport itself.

skating drew me in, Kinder said. wanted to skate more than anything in the world when I was a little girl. And because I’ve never been involved in a team sport, when I realized there was a team of girls my age on roller skates, I knew I wanted to try it. a wife and mother who works at the Tuscaloosa VA Federal Credit Union, said roller derby also allows her to let loose a side of herself hardly ever seen.

don’t necessarily see myself as a different person on the track. I see myself as the person I can’t be in certain situations, Kinder said. when I’m late for work and I’m driving behind a log truck or something and I want to just drive up next to them and knock them out of the way and make them move.

actually get to do that on the track. When a little bitty jammer on the opposing team is coming by, she is my log truck. skating background definitely helps. Within six months of joining the team, she moved up from the Rollers’ lowly B team, where the women are still trying to correct the wobble from their blocks, and began skating in A team bouts.