Roller Derby in Asheville, NC

By Eric Seeger on April 26, 2011 at 10:34 am EST
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Asheville may be far enough north for snow, but it does not have a hockey team. And those who want to see live football should be prepared to visit a high school on a Friday night. Yes, the town was almost completely devoid of any full-contact spectator sport until a few tough ladies laced up their roller skates and decided it was time to dish out a little pain. Actually, it looks like a lot.

Blue Ridge Roller Girls is western North Carolina’s only all-female, flat-track roller derby league. Roughly once a month, the roller girls compete against similar leagues from cities across the region in these high-impact bouts, where both teams try to get their points-earning skater through as many laps as possible during a set time period. 

Roller Derby Scoring and Positions

The scoring and positions – jammers, blockers and pivots – are a little difficult to understand at first, but the action translates with ease. Each event is a human demolition derby punctuated with moments of breakaway speed and grace. By the end of the night, the teams will have turned hundreds of laps around a course that’s approximately the size of a basketball court.

Athletes with names like Rigor Morticia, Mazel Tov Cocktail, Distressa and 2 Beers exemplify the spirit of showmanship, but this isn’t the staged pro-wrestlingesque roller derby your parents grew up watching. The competition is respectful, but the wrecks are far from staged. There are no padded guardrails, and the track is nothing but concrete. Every shot that’s delivered registers with the athletes and the crowd.

Asheville Roller Derby Bouts Each Month

Every month, these ladies pack the crowds into Asheville’s Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. And if you’re the type of person who likes to get close to the action, there’s even floor (literally, you’re sitting on the cement) next to the track. Just be ready in case one of the competitors accidentally uses you as a speed bump.

But for all the mayhem that surrounds a roller girls competition, it’s family fun where you otherwise might not expect to find it. The competitors are good-natured (okay, so they might start with a team chant of “We will win as a family! We kill as a family!”), they are accessible to fans, and the biggest prize at stake is bragging rights.

In fact, unlike most sports franchises, Blue Ridge Roller Girls is a nonprofit organization that uses its home matches to raise funds for charity. It’s almost enough goodwill to make you forgive the occasional dirty elbow the rollergirls and their competitors are laying on each other. Almost.

Read about more quirky activities in Asheville, NC.

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