Rock n’ roll track stars

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TCRG s7b1 - Bad Reputations vs Faster Pussycats

Since its resurgence in Texas in the early 2000s, roller derby has become one of the fastest growing sports, sprouting up in grassroots-like leagues and gaining a lot of momentum in popularity.

Its premise is simple, and quite unique: there is no ball or net, only ten women on wheels blocking each other with bruise-worthy hard contact. To score points, each team has one jammer who is marked with a star on her helmet. Once the jammer passes the blockers and their fierce contact, the team is awarded points each time she continues to successfully pass a player of the opposing team.

However, roller derby isn’t an entirely “normal” sport, and part of its appeal is in the culture surrounding it. While each team wears a similar uniform, these women also tend to dress a little wacky, but wacky in the greatest sense of the word: bright colours, tights, fishnets and face paint. All of this also comes with a badass attitude of course.

Meaghan Hackinen, also known as Schwarzemegger, is a player for the Faster Pussycats and a member of the All-Stars team for the Terminal City Roller Girls. As we sip coffee and munch on baked goods at Cafe Du Soleil, Meaghan discusses derby, and gives some insight into its culture and community.

“I think it [the outfits] came out of derby being a spectator sport, but I also think we just like dressing up . . . It’s stuff you don’t get to wear everyday. It’s just fun and different. I like to wear a lot of neon and bright colours — I don’t get to wear neon tights everyday!”

The ways of roller derby don’t simply stop at the costumes, though. You get to choose a different name than your own if you like, and even add a character for embellishment. “You get to recreate yourself a bit. I feel like people don’t really change who they are entirely, but you pick something and play it up,”  Meaghan explains.

Meaghan’s derby name, Schwarzemegger, is, of course, a spinoff of the onetime bodybuilder and action-movie hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Meaghan smiles as she discusses her derby name: “I didn’t really do it on purpose, but I picked Schwarzemegger because it was one letter different and has my name in it . . . [but now] I really play up the last action hero [character].”

Stated in an Austrian accent while laughing, she adds: “I am coming to get you! I have really big muscles!” Aside from the bruises, costumes and derby names, the Terminal City Roller Girls also have a flourishing community where supporting each other is top priority.

No matter who you are, these women will make you feel welcomed, and do so by avidly supporting things like the LGBT community. Each year, the Terminal City Roller Girls are sure to lace-up their skates to take part in the Pride Parade, and also hold fun events such as a gay vs straight scrimmage.

“There is a lot of support to be whoever you are. I have even seen a lot of people come out in their experience with derby. I guess they just feel they are in a comfortable place, and can say: ‘I like girls, and it’s fine to say that now’. It’s really a beautiful thing to see,” Meaghan says.

But like most things, it’s also not all play, all the time: “It takes a lot to keep the league in operation. It’s a lot of work and no one gets paid to do it. We all volunteer. You have to love it… It’s cool to be part of something where everybody wants to be there, and everybody thinks its worth their time. We are all united in that front.”

So, in a flash of fishnets, neon tights, face paint and camaraderie, the Terminal City Roller Girls will be making their final laps into the end of this season. There is one final scheduled game on July 13 before the semi finals on August 10, and championships are on September 7.