When asked what her favorite aspect is of competing with the Salisbury Roller Girls, Street Team Director Caitlin Marvel didn’t have to think twice before launching into her sincere passion for the game. “…the love of the derby. There’s music, wheels clattering against wood, toe stops squealing, people falling, jumping and running on wheels – it is a ceaseless flood of brilliantly organized chaos, and that really brings the fans in the game with us.”
Sound exciting? That’s because it is. Roller derbies have gained traction in the past few years, with new teams popping up across Maryland and Delaware and more and more girls signing up for the high-intensity fun. The Salisbury Rollergirls were founded in 2010 by Eva “Buster Skull” Paxton, a Salisbury native who was playing on a roller derby team in Wilmington, DE (the closest team on the Shore at the time). “She wanted to bring roller derby to the area and create an athletic circuit for area women who wished to continue to take up a challenging sport, regardless of skating skill or experience,” said Marvel.
Five years later, the Salisbury Roller Girls have grown exponentially, currently boasting two full teams (each team is comprised of 14 girls) with alternates and several new girls that are still in the training before being rostered. “We pride ourselves in our league cohesion,” said Marvel, “which is why our retention is so good. We have always done our best to maintain that ‘small league’ fun and sense of unity.”
Need a crash course (pun intended) in roller derby? Here are the basics:
- Roller derby is a full-contact, all-female sport played on a flat oval track.
- Two opposing skaters, or jammers, race around the track to fight their way through the pack (the on-track group of four blockers from each team).
- Jammers score points for every opposing blocker they pass.
- Blockers play offense and defense, trying to stop the other jammer from passing them
- Hundreds of points can be scored in a single game
- There are two, thirty-minute halves with a halftime (complete with entertainment for spectators)
“Once the teams are ready the first ‘pack’ lines up in front of the jammers,” explains Marvel. “The whistle blows and the first of a series of two-minute jams proceeds, with jammers juking, pushing and muscling their way through big hits and strategic defensive walls to score first.”
For girls interested in signing up, recruitment nights are held in the fall and winter. “We take skaters of all levels,” said Marvel. “A dedicated coach works with them for the first couple of months on skills and then they are slowly incorporated into drills as the progress until they are ready to scrimmage with the rest of the league.” Team members train for three, two-hour practices weekly throughout ten months of the year. Teams also participate in fundraisers, attend parades and events, host charity events, and more.
The events are also spectator heavy, with food trucks for snacking, a retail booth, and designated spectator areas. “We are family-friendly and have fans of all ages. Everyone who is ready to have a good time and watch an amazing sport is welcome,” said Marvel adding “I think our derbies carry to our fans. We don’t play on sprawling football fields, our fans are right there, ten feet away from everything we are doing. It’s close action. They see the hits and hear us calling plays to each other.”
Currently, the Salisbury Roller Girls are sponsored by Old Bay, but Marvel noted that they are always looking for team sponsors. All games are $8 in advance from any skater or $10 at the door. A portion of every ticket sale goes to a selected charity for that game.
“We do this just because we love to skate, and love to skate with each other,” concluded Marvel. For more on the Salisbury Rollergirls, visit their site, salisburyrollergirls.com or follow them on FB. The next bout is this Saturday, April 11 at 6pm at Mitchell’s Martial Arts.