Roller Derby Brings the Spirit of Competition and Sisterhood to the Lowcountry

Photo by Phil Lackey
Update: The Lowcountry Highrollers kick off the new season on August 29th, doors opening at 4:30 at their new venue at 3337 Business Circle, North Charleston, SC.? Come out and show your support.? Learn more at Lowcountry Highrollers Official Website

As I spoke to Lori, a seasoned member of the Swamp Foxes on Wednesday evening, I could see the team in the background doing drills and stretching exercises in preparation for their closed scrimmage at the Hot Wheels Skating facility on Folly Road. Ranging from age 18 to 45, this group of women includes a former competitive fencer, speed skaters, nurses, writers and a chef. This is the makings of a true sisterhood who has found a release hidden behind their skates, pads and helmets.

Lori’s passion dates back to her youth when she watched hours of bouts on television and sought the opportunity once she learned of the league. Along with the other skaters, Lori sees Roller Derby as part of something much bigger than herself. It is a community partnership, an organization fueled on education, awareness and a sense of teaming unlike anything you may ever witness.

Full gear for a roller derby athlete can run about $600 or more. This is a pertinent amount for the dedicated girls who are practicing and competing for nothing more than pride and charity. Sponsor a Skater is one of the many examples of community partnership that embrace the passion of this sport. Donors, sometimes anonymous, provide funding so that the athletes can have the opportunity to skate, hit and score.

During each bout, you will witness banner ads, raffles, announcements, flyers and digital ads promoting businesses from around the Charleston area. These sponsors are part of the well-oiled machine that keeps this league thriving. The athletes, coaches and referees are not paid. In fact, each bout supports a local area charity. All other funds raised provide for rentals, insurance, equipment and marketing to help keep the dreams of these girls alive. The compassion and commitment of the league to support local area charities is infectious. MUSC Sports Medicine even offers free healthcare assistance to any player injured during a bout or practice.

Stepping into a situation with a limited understanding of the rules and regulations was a challenge for me, but meeting the girls and spending time with Lori, put my lack of knowledge at ease. The exuberant dialogue offered a wealth of information about the sport, the dedication year round of the competitors and the community partnership.

Whether you are a member of the Ashley Riverdolls, Swamp Foxes, Heartbreakers or junior derby, conditioning, training and preparation are a part of everyone’s routine. Players interested in competing must complete two stages of assessment before they can clash in a bout. From conditioning to technique, the league takes great precautions to ensure safety and health.

Photo by Phil Lackey

Each and every player is given the chance to learn leadership, project management, marketing and teamwork. This is a beautiful ecosystem in place. Each member must be part of at least two committees (marketing, media, sponsorship, etc.) and there is a rotating coaches program where players take turns coaching a practice or scrimmage. It is, in a way, a utopian society with no hierarchy and a communal lifestyle.

Why choose Roller Derby? For some it is a way to stay in shape. For others, finding a sisterhood bond. Ultimately, roller derby is a healthy escape from the pressures of personal and professional lives. Most of us spend our lives working the “day” job and at the end of the day, a release is a breath of fresh air.

This is a breath of fresh air.

I spent a few minutes watching the scrimmage. Two minute intervals; jammers, blockers and pivot, all packed together. It was a rugged form of poetry. As they bunched together, you could see the competitive drive as well as the strong team concept. It is truly a remarkable experience.

If you have never witnessed a bout, go enjoy the experience. Do it for the charity, do it for the action, but most of all, do it to show your support for the ladies and gentleman that dedicate hours in preparation for each bout.

Before each bout, when each player is introduced and they skate a lap around the track while others eagerly wait for their announcement while listening to their motivational music, watch closely as you cheer them on. Look at the fire in their eyes and the spirit in their glide. It will inspire.

Photo by Phil Lackey
Photo by Phil Lackey

You enjoy all the energy on October 12 at Hot Wheels on Folly Road as The Swamp Fox Militia take on The Holy City Heartbreakers and November 9 for the Home team championships – Roller Derby Schedule

Learn more today – Roller Derby Charleston SC