Women brawl, build friendships with Orlando Psycho City Roller Derby
Forget Perriman, Worton or Bortles. Meet Lady Paincorn, Bowtie Bruiser and Missy Misdemeanor — roller derby girls with Orlando Psycho City Roller Derby.
Roller derby is a full-contact sport where matches consist of two five-member teams skating around a track in a series of matchups called jams. Each team designates a scoring player, the jammer, and points are scored by lapping members of the opposite team. Sounds pretty harmless right? Here's where it gets messy.
The teams then attempt to slow their opposing jammer by any means necessary, sometimes leaving players in a full-contact tussle. Players can get thrown over rails and rolled over, but if a penalty is given by blocking with the head or using elbows, time will be spent in the penalty box.
"It's not personal, it's derby," their website states. But it's not all bruises and brawls.
"My experiences with my teammates are pretty incredible; we always can listen and learn from each other, and I get an amazing sense of camaraderie that I had never gotten before playing a team sport," said Arkham Assailants team blocker Savannah Hurst, a senior communication sciences and disorders major.
There are currently more than 1,200 amateur leagues, but more than half are located outside of the United States. While most of the sport is dominated by female amateur teams, there is an increasing number of emerging male and co-ed leagues. The sport was even under consideration for the 2020 Olympics as a roller sport.
Something that comes with the territory of team sports are injuries, which can range from bumps and bruises to sprains, concussions and even broken bones.
"My worst [injury] was last October when I sustained a spiral fracture to my tibia and fibula, which resulted in having surgery where they inserted a metal bar in my tibia," said veteran roller derby player Kristina Miller.
Injuries are so common in roller derby that volunteer EMTs are on hand to treat those that fall victim to the battering in the rink.
Hurst herself is not a stranger to these injuries. During one of her first scrimmages on a new pair of skates, she found herself flat on her backside.
"I ended up straining a muscle in my lower back, and was in physical therapy for about six months before I was able to play again," she said.
But when these players aren't getting bruised, they enjoy camaraderie and sisterhood.
"Off the track, you'll see us doing everything from crafting to drinking, to crying from laughter or from pain," said third-season veteran jammer Kristina Miller.
Sunnyland Slammers team blocker and UCF alumna Missy Corson added that the girls even love to skate in their free time.
"We even skate off the track around local trails and sidewalks," she said. "Skating is fun everywhere, especially with your derby sisters."
Those interested in joining the roller derby community should attend one of the seasonal information sessions.
"Playing with Orlando Psycho City is extremely rigorous and fun. On the track, we have a lot of trust in each other ... I've met and formed some real bonds with the women of OPCD and it gets better every practice," Corson said.
The Orlando Psycho City Roller Derby season opener, appropriately named "My Bloody Valentine," is on Feb. 15 at Semoran Skateway in Casselberry. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door.
Stephanie Gross is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.