Most people have watched a game of tackle football where the defense players of each team square off to protect their offensive line, helping them score. It’s aggressive and intense. Now lose the ball, and imagine those players on roller skates in casual cosplay. That’s roller derby. And it’s just as cool and entertaining as it sounds.
Easley has its own roller derby team that provides a unique opportunity for women in the Upstate South Carolina to skate as part of a female-owned and female-operated athletic team. URGE, which stands for The Upstate Roller Girl Evolution, is a non-profit organization that is 100% managed by female skaters. The league’s primary mission is to foster and promote the sport of women’s flat track roller derby through organized competition and community involvement.
The sport of flat track roller derby has grown tremendously and is now played by more than 1000 leagues worldwide. Roller derby is a genuine athletic competition complete with standardized rules, divisions, annual tournaments and an international governing body: The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA).
Roller derby is competitive contact sport that embraces theatrics, but with no choreographing. Two teams, or “packs”, of 5 players take the court for two 30 minute periods. Each pack has one pivot, one jammer, and three blockers. The pivot and blockers are the defensive line, and the jammer plays the offensive position.
The defensive lines square off with the jammers of both teams behind them. At the whistle, the jammers fight through the pack to get the lead position. After lapping the packs once, the jammers receive one point for each member of the opposing team that they pass. Each of these “jams” can last up to 2 minutes, and the lead jammer can call off the jam at any time.
Perhaps the best part about URGE is the women on the team. As part of the theatrics, they go by a derby names like AK-47, Pippi Non-Stopping, Harley Hot-Wheels, and Ratchet Hatchet. Behind these wild personas are librarians, published writers, pediatric nurses, therapists, Navy veterans, aquarium mermaids, museum restorationists, correctional officers, and more. They are lead by Lindsey who known better by her derby name Bi-Furious Coach, or Fury, who is a preschool teacher.
For example, El Comatose “Coma” for short, got her name from a teammate who combined her Mexican ethnicity and her job in anesthesia. Her number (36) is all the birthdays months of her three children and husband in total. She got into derby because it was on her bucket list, along with running a half marathon, and buying a Harley after her divorce.
Ru chose her name because it makes no sense saying, “I just like the gender neutrality of it. I also like to hear people yell ‘RUUUUU’ but it kind of sounds like ‘BOOOO’!” She first joined derby with a friend at Gem City Roller Derby (Dayton, OH) in 2019 because she claims to be too lazy to exercise on her own. She also loves having an alternate identity, and to be able to hang out with an amazing group of women every week.
Hippie Check considers herself a modern day Hippie, and her number (394) is inspired by her love for Harry Potter. “I’ve wanted to play derby since I saw CLT play in 2014,” she said, “when I saw the ad for URGEs bootcamp, I knew I had to give it a try.”
Pippi Non-Stopping, a sales rep, started playing derby when friend brought her to a game. Neither had ever seen derby before, and she didn’t even know how to skate, but she was instantly addicted.
Ratchet Hatchet used to work at an outdoor camp teaching kids how to throw hatchets. She plays derby because it’s one of the few sports that encouraged her to be a strong, loud, and take up space. Plus, she likes skating fast.
Those are just some of them.
Every player has a cool name and persona on the court that reflect the fascinating personalities of the women behind them. They all have careers, families, and some you would never guess would play such a unique competitive contact sport. Some, like Daley Bruise who joined the team in January, were just bored and wanted something fun to do with other women and fell in love with the sport.
URGE plays against teams in the Upstate as well as North Carolina, Georgia, and the rest of South Carolina. In addition to the 8 games on their 2023 schedule, URGE members skate in exhibition games and invitationals. Skaters are also available for public appearances.
Playing in their first game of the season on March 18, 2023 is:
Hippie Check #394
Ratchet Hatchet #606
Pippi Non-Stopping #314
Rowdy Rockis #78
Scarlet Fever #13
El Comatose #36
Daph Punk #79
Coached by Bi-Furious
Miss Information is a librarian at the Captain Kimberly Hampton Memorial Library in Easley. She started playing derby a year ago, but was out for several months when she broke her fibula, her calf bone, in practice in November. Although she’s not back in the games, she’s finally able to practice with the team again.
According to Coach Fury, derby can be dangerous. Surprisingly, they have very few injuries. The players are taught how to protect their limbs and fingers, especially in falls. The team rules and guidelines mandate the players wear the necessary protective gear. For the newbies that don’t have appropriate gear, they’re outfitted with borrowed equipment so that no-one is on the court without helmets, pads, and guards.
It’s thrilling to watch. The next game is at the Roller Time Family Skate Center of Easley against Knoxville. Doors open at 10:00 AM on Saturday March 18, and first whistle is at 10:30 AM. Entry is free for kids 12 and under, and $12 per person for anyone 13 years old or older.