GALLIPOLIS — An informational meeting was held at Skatesville USA Wednesday evening to present a new sporting opportunity — roller derby — to women in Gallia, Jackson, Meigs and Mason counties.
Heather Blazer, of Cheshire, also known by her derby name “Hellblazer,” is one of the Silver Bridge Bruisers organizers, the anticipated roller derby team to be based in Gallipolis. Blazer originally started skating with the Appalachian Hell Betties in Athens, Ohio, in 2011.
“Derby is somewhat of a dangerous sport. You’ll have to have waivers, but that’s just the nature of derby,” Blazer told the crowd of around 30 women. “But it’s fun.”
A contact sport, roller derby is typically played with two teams of five skaters. A match is referred to as a bout and the bout holds two 30 minute periods. Periods consist of two-minute jams with a half minute between jams. Jams potentially last up to two minutes. A “lead jammer” is allowed to call jams at any time. According to information provided at the meeting, this is a tactic to keep the opponent’s team from scoring.
Teams have four blockers and one jammer on the floor but may be comprised of around 20 members. Blockers skate in strategic formations guarding in a pack. Blockers assist jammers through a pack and attempt to prevent the opposing jammer from coming through theirs. Once the whistle to signal the game’s start blows, jammers scramble to get to the front of a pack. The jammer who first makes it through a pack is considered a lead jammer and starts scoring points on each successive pass through a pack per opposing player they pass.
Players will be expected to purchase insurance and protective gear to help account for the potential injuries that may occur during practices and bouts. Roller derby participants are asked to have skates, elbow pads, knee pads, mouth guards, wrist guards and helmets.
Blazer said the Silver Bridge Bruisers would be attempting fundraisers in the future to help with associated game costs and expenses.
“The good thing about roller derby is that it doesn’t matter what size you are. You can be tiny and really fast and be a jammer. If you’re a big girl, you can be a blocker, or you can just be fast and still be a jammer,” Blazer said. “When I started out, I couldn’t even stand up on skates. I hadn’t skated since grade school.”
Blazer said she and other experienced skaters would be available to teach beginners how to skate. She emphasized that one did not need prior skating experience to enjoy the game and camaraderie that comes from it.
Practices are anticipated to be on Wednesdays and Sundays from 6-8 p.m. and begin shortly after Skatesville USA reopens Sept. 11.
For more information about the Silver Bridge Bruisers or how to join, contact organizers at [email protected]
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.