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Southern girls skate, intimidate
Roller 1
The Atlanta Rollergirls compete monthly at the Yaarab Shrine Center on Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta. - photo by Submitted
Sugar and spice?

That’s not how these girls roll.

At first glance, the Atlanta Rollergirls is a league of fist-pumping, tattooed kamikazes on skates.

When they whoosh by it’s tough to tell what’s going on other than pigtails and flying elbows.

After hearing tell of these athlete-entertainers a few weeks back, my girlfriend and I went to the Yaarab Shrine Center gymnasium in Atlanta, where four local teams had assembled.

As we stepped through the door, event staff handed us a program with colorful, punk rock caricatures of these women on the cover.

Up ahead, the ladies were already in action, zooming around the wooden floor on a circular track divided by colored tape.

We settled into our bleacher seats. Inside the pamphlet were diagrams that explained in detail how the game of roller derby works.

Focusing on these game play illustrations was a little tough, given the sweating, grunting distractions just yards away.

“How does this work?” a woman behind us asked her boyfriend.


His eyes were glued to the roller derby track, where powerful women in spandex and knee-high, rainbow-colored socks crashed against each other.

Skating referees circled the group in a perimeter just past the line of fire. They blew their whistles, pointing offenders to the penalty box.

These officials were the only ones in the game dressed as one might expect. Their zebra-striped outfits underscored the flamboyant frills of the rollergirls.

The rollergirls’ attire exemplified the sport’s no-holds-barred capacity for the campy and theatrical.

With names like “Reba Smackentire,” “Quadratic Abrasion” and “Madame Switchblade,” these skating gladiators adopted on-stage attitudes.
It smacked of professional wrestling, except with inch-thick eyeliner and estrogen.

Even the play-by-play announcers — watching the women from folding chairs in the corner of the gym — leaned toward the dramatic.

Sporting fake Fu Manchu mustaches and big, 1970s-style wigs, the commentators boomed through speakers with monster-truck-commercial urgency.

Despite the flashy garb and jokey stage names, these women were indeed playing a game. And that game has rules.

All I could figure by halfway through was that there was one woman on each team trying to pass a group of players. This group of players tried their darnedest to keep the speedy skater from getting through.

Injuries ensued. The sound of bodies smacking that wooden floor made heads jerk throughout the crowd. An empathetic, collective groan resounded across the bleachers with each fall.

But that’s what they were here for wasn’t it? The prospect of watching muscular women pummel one another all in good fun.

The next Atlanta Rollergirls event is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday. For more information or tickets, go online at

Frank Reddy is a staff writer for the Forsyth County News. Contact him at