This women’s sport isn’t the same as folks might remember from 1960s and 1970s television. But this quintessentially American sport, a hybrid that plays out like a race across a football line of scrimmage on an oval track, has enjoyed resurgence in the last 10 years with an amateur circuit gaining fans across the nation.
And local librarian Jessica Thompson is organizing the Augusta chapter of the women’s flat track derby association to compete against teams from Athens, Savannah and Columbia.
Thompson, 31, remembers skating two or three times a week when she was younger. But something took the shine off her shoes.
“When the redneck guys with the mullets started hitting on us, it wasn’t cool anymore,” she laughed. “But until I was about 14, we went skating two or three times a week.”
While living in Indianapolis, she met friends who rented out the local rink for parties with their own DJ, and began to skate again. And when she came across the Atlanta roller derby leagues, Thompson, who has always enjoyed athletics, knew she had found her new passion.
“It looked like a really fun way to meet a group of women,” she said. “I think a lot of us are looking for a creative outlet with companionship and exercise.”
The new wave of derby dolls — with names like Myrtle Kombat, Knockin’ Bootsy and May Q. Beg — make more of it than an athletic exercise. It’s about fun and creativity.
“You get to form an alter ego,” Thompson explained. “I’m a librarian. I like being a librarian; I think it’s exciting; but getting to have an alter ego would allow me an outlet for expression that I don’t have at my day job.”
What that alter ego will be, she has not decided. Character creation takes imagination and time. But that’s part of the derby’s draw: an expression of individuality that no one else can match.
“There is an international master roster of roller derby girl names, and there could be no duplicates. I wanted to be something like Jessica Rabid, but somebody else in California already has that,” she laughed. Maybe she can be Jessica Randy. Or Scary Jessica Archer.
Whatever she and the rest of her merry band of brawling belles choose to call themselves, they should stay away from Athens’ Push-Up Brawl. She’s a double threat.