Professors push for roller derby team
Georgia College offers its students a broad number of club teams available for those interested in getting involved in athletics, but now a new club team is in the making.
When a group of girls gets together wanting to channel both their aggression and their creativity, the result is roller derby: a fast-paced, female dominated rollerskating sport. It has been around for several years, and today it is being introduced to GC thanks to a couple of health science professors.
It all started when professors Kelly Manning, Heidi Fowler and Allison Everett saw a picture of the track that is being added to the new Wellness and Recreation Center.
“When we heard about the new Wellness Center track, that’s really when we looked at each other and a light bulb went off. We instantly thought roller derby,” community health professor Fowler said. “Dr. Manning and I are both of the same breed that we think we can do anything.”
Right now, the professors are working on writing bylaws making the roller derby club official and gaining more interest from the undergraduate class. After talking to students within the Department of Health Sciences, it was discovered that there were enough students intrigued by the idea of roller derby to go ahead and start the club.
“We don’t want it to just be our one department,” Fowler said. “Ideally, if we could get enough people interested, we could have separate teams and play against each other; that’s not too unrealistic.”
There have been a few dedicated students that are more than excited about the idea of being a part of a roller derby club. Senior community health science major Shearon Eggleston was recently appointed as president of the roller derby club during one of the meetings. With previous skating experience, she is excited about what the club will offer.
“I’m so excited to just skate. I’ll have to convert over from being a roller blader to a roller skater, but I’m definitely willing to,” Eggleston said. “I’m also excited about learning and getting used to the rules of the game of roller derby and meeting some new people who love to skate as much as me. Being a part of this roller derby team is also going to be a fun way to exercise, which I love to do as well.”
Eggleston isn’t the only one who is excited about all of the aspects that come along with being involved with roller derby. Manning had her first taste of roller derby when she visited Atlanta to watch the Atlanta Rollergirls.
“When I saw the Atlanta Rollergirls, it wasn’t like the movie ‘Whip It;’ there was some kind of roughness, but it was more of a sport,” Manning said. “The players were having a good time, and the spectators were having a good time. I didn’t see a single person that was bummed out. I left thinking ‘this is what I want to do.’”
Although roller derby is a female-dominated sport, guys are encouraged to join the GC roller derby club as well. Junior community health major Chase Greeson is the new secretary for the club.
“I really do not know why I wanted to get involved with the club. I guess I wanted to experience something new as well as meet and get to know new people,” Greeson said. “I have always heard about roller derby; I thought it would be interesting to learn the rules, how the team scores points and how the winner is determined.”
The women players are very important, but this isn’t to say that the men do not have an important job. Guys who join the club can either be referees or coaches.
“I like the camaraderie of roller derby. Females get together and feel in charge and in command. They also get to let loose and have fun,” Manning said. “It’s an opportunity to give the men a chance to participate in roles that are somewhat reversed. They play a huge part in the sport as coaches or referees. It’s an interesting flip to have females in charge.”
If enough people become interested and teams begin to form, this will be the first college roller derby team in the state of Georgia. There are teams located in Atlanta, Athens and other big cities in Georgia, but not many colleges have their own roller derby teams. There is also a team forming in Macon called the Middle Georgia Derby Demons that is wanting to pair up with Milledgeville and hold practices.
“Macon wants to form a league and have a team in Macon, Warner Robins and other surrounding areas,” Fowler stated. “This would be a springboard for Milledgeville roller derby.”
One of the most interesting aspects of roller derby is the chance to be creative within a sport.
“We’re a liberal arts school, so I know there’s a lot of creativity out there,” Manning said. “This is one more outlet to combine creativity and sports, and there really aren’t any other sports that do that.”
The creativity comes into play when players get to take on a sort of alter ego and choose a unique name. Eggleston already has a name picked out for herself.
“My dad actually came up with a name for me once I told him that I was joining the roller derby team: Slammer,” Eggleston said. “I get really aggressive in sports because I get so into them and love to compete. This name definitely suits me.”
Having been intrigued by roller derby for quite some time, Manning and Fowler are eager to capture the interest of more students so they can begin teaching the players how to properly fall and block.
“You think it’s a bunch of big-shouldered broads wanting to knock people out, but that’s not it,” Fowler said. “It’s a creative, clever and robust group of women who want to see others succeed and want to work together.”
The club’s next meeting occurs on Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. in Parks Memorial Hall. All are encouraged to email Fowler for more information about the club.