HER Fit­ness

Downtown Derby Dolls

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - CONTENTS -

First played in Chicago in the 1930s, the full-con­tact sport of roller derby has since been adopted by coun­tries around the world and rec­og­nized by the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee.

As of this year, the Women’s Flat Track Derby As­so­ci­a­tion (WFTDA) had 397 full member leagues and 48 ap­pren­tice leagues. Hot Springs is home to one of those leagues — the Downtown Derby Dolls.

Ac­cord­ing to team cap­tain Jaci­lyn “Blitz Ven­tura” Pierce, the group dis­cussed form­ing a league in May, and by July the state of Arkansas had ac­cepted its ar­ti­cles of in­cor­po­ra­tion. The team is now work­ing on be­ing ac­cepted as a char­i­ta­ble non­profit group.

Pierce said her im­me­di­ate goal is to spread the word that Hot Springs now has a roller derby league and to con­tinue train­ing cur­rent mem­bers and re­cruit­ing new mem­bers, along with learn­ing about the needs of the com­mu­nity and find­ing ways that the Downtown Derby Dolls can as­sist. She said her long-term goal is to “develop and main­tain all the goals stated in my short-term goals,” adding that she hopes to con­tinue to build re­la­tion­ships with mem­bers and or­ga­ni­za­tions in the com­mu­nity.

“I would love for us to also host at least four home games a year so that we play what we love while rais­ing money for lo­cal non­prof­its,” Pierce added.

The team’s first match is sched­uled for Oct. 9, 2018, in Longview, Texas. They are look­ing at sched­ul­ing three other games for the 2018 sea­son, but that has not yet been con­firmed.

The team has nine skaters, one ref­eree and one non-skat­ing member, and is now re­cruit­ing new skaters.

Pierce at­trib­uted her ini­tial in­ter­est in roller derby to the film “Whip It,” fea­tur­ing a re­bel­lious teen who trades in her small town beauty pageant crown for the world of roller derby.

She moved to Hot Springs in Au­gust 2016 and played roller derby in Lit­tle Rock for over a year.

“There was sev­eral rea­sons, fam­ily and fi­nan­cial, that ul­ti­mately made me de­cide to re­tire from my for­mer league, but I felt like I wasn’t ready. So I heard that there used to be a lit­tle team that prac­ticed (in Hot Springs) back in the day, reached out to a few of them to see if they wanted to get derby go­ing again, and now here we are,” she said. “We’re back and more se­ri­ous about it, more than ever. I’ve got four years of ex­pe­ri­ence laced up in my skates so I feel pretty con­fi­dent that we will suc­ceed as a league.”

Pierce said she has been in­volved in sports her en­tire life and has been skat­ing since the age of 4.

“It was like the clouds parted, the trum­pets sounded and I fi­nally knew what it meant to see the heav­ens, ex­cept it’s this beau­ti­ful sport we call roller derby,” she said. “I love the com­rade­ship. We’re not paid ath­letes and since this is a recre­ational ac­tiv­ity we choose to use our skill and tal­ent to em­power and sup­port one an­other in and out of the derby com­mu­nity. I also love that our pur­pose, the whole rea­son we prac­tice and play hard, is to one day host games so that we can raise money for other lo­cal non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions in Hot Springs.”

New to roller derby is team member Kar­rie “Reck­less Texas” Carter, who also at­trib­uted her ini­tial in­ter­est in the sport to “Whip It.”

Af­ter see­ing the film, Carter said she im­me­di­ately wanted to join a roller derby team, but there wasn’t one in Hot Springs at the time.

“Then, one day, a close friend of mine, who knew play­ing roller derby was a dream of mine, told me about the Downtown Derby Dolls Fresh Meat Boot Camp. I could not be­lieve it, that it could be a re­al­ity. I went to the meet-and-greet and the rest is his­tory,” she said, adding, “Be­fore I joined the Downtown Derby Dolls, I had not put on a pair of skates since the ’ 90s … this is the first league I have been lucky enough to be a part of.”

Carter has al­ways been in­volved in sports and grew up in Hous­ton, where she said roller derby has been around for years.

“The sport of roller derby is a com­bi­na­tion of en­durance, strat­egy and team­work. In ad­di­tion to the game you also gain a sec­ond fam­ily of sis­ters that will al­ways have your back. We are al­ways en­cour­ag­ing each other to work harder, both per­son­ally and in prac­tices.

Kerri “Reck­less TX” Carter, left, Lau­ren “Stylee Wylee” Styles, Jaci­lyn “Blitz Ven­tura” Pierce, Lynette “Colt 45” How­ell and Emily “Toast Malone” Til­ley

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