The Rollarama Skating Center in Schenectady played host to take downs, slams, jams and whips Saturday night, as the Hellions of Troy battled the visiting Nickel City Knockouts of Buffalo in authentic all-girl roller derby.
Advertised as a 100 percent real version of the notorious bouts from the 1970s and 1980s, the action delivered as promised, with players displaying gaudy attire, acting as ring leaders to their own personal circus and skating with reckless abandon.
Skaters wear over-the-top, personalized outfits. Many paint their faces, show off fish net stockings, accessorize their pads and display a stage name on their uniform.
Players acting as pivots, blockers and jammers circled a crowded oval for intervals up to two minutes as they did their best to rack up points — in a manner only obvious at first to the score keepers and insiders. To score points the jammers need to pass the pack of opposing players, worth one point, and they try to do this as many times as possible without accruing too many penalties or getting decked.
From the opening whistle players were waving their hands around, weaving in between skaters and constantly hopping back up off the ground after solo falls and collisions.
When it was all over the Hellions prevailed by a score of 130 to 121, with the game up for grabs the entire second half.
“It was crazy,” said Hellion skater Mutton.
The crowd of about 300 ate up every moment of the action. Fans even had a chance to be part of the action, as they were allowed to bring chairs and sit on the sidelines, which provided the possibility — good or bad — of a derby girl falling into their lap.
This was the second bout for Shane Klein, who proudly displayed a roller derby pin as he absorbed the competition from the sideline. Klein, of Niskayuna, said the event offers something different, especially on a night when there isn’t a lot going on locally. He said the region doesn’t have a lot of sporting events so he enjoys having an opportunity to watch roller derby. “It’s been around for a long time and I’m glad to see it coming back to the Capital District.”
Many of the fans wore Hellions paraphernalia or their own personalized costumes and talked or joked with the players, officials and coaches before the game.
A referee, who participates under the show name A Ladd Insane, said the camaraderie extends to the teams too, as the whole endeavor is a group effort that requires a serious commitment.
“It’s a [do it yourself] sport,” he said, referring to the fact that all aspects of the league are handled by the participants. The skaters come from all walks of life, such as A Ladd Insane, who is a baker, and said there are players that are photographers, bankers and marketing specialists. “It’s real people doing this.”
A Ladd Insane added, “As you’re watching ... you’re seeing people having a blast. They’re just having a good time.”
As they do for every bout, the Hellions donated a portion Saturday’s ticket sales to a local charity, with the Parsons Child and Family Center the recipient.
Women’s roller derby is a growing sport in the nation, with nearly 400 leagues in operation, and has increased in popularity locally too, with teams from the Capital Region present at Saturday night’s bout. The nearby Albany All-Stars league includes more than 60 players and three teams.
The Hellions will host two more home matches this season, with a bout against the Oz Rollergirls of Oswego on Feb. 5 and on March 5 they will welcome the Killah Bees of Providence, Rhode Island.
To find out more about the Hellions, including player biographies, at http://www.hellionsoftroyrollerderby.com/.