The Atlanta Rollergirls turn ten this year. I swear it was only last week that I was “practicing” in blue jeans and rental skates, without safety equipment. Where did the time go?
Flashback to 2004, I am living in Dallas, TX. Kasey Bomber (Jennifer Barbee), a friend and Los Angeles Derby Doll (a banked track league), introduced me to the world of modern roller derby. I joined her on a road trip to Austin for a house party with TXRD. I knew then I needed to be a part of this community.
All it took was an (electronic) introduction to Tanya Hyde (Angela Ward) and a 780 mile cross-country move to start my ARG career. I arrived in Atlanta on a Saturday morning and attended my first ARG practice Sunday afternoon. I could count the number of skaters at that practice on one hand. Those girls, referred to as OGs (Original Gangstas), were instrumental in forming the Atlanta Rollergirls.
I skated four seasons for a few different teams (Sake Tuyas, Toxic Shocks, and All-Stars). I still skate for ARG’s Rec League and help train future ARG skaters with the Atlanta Derby Brats. I sometimes wrangle helmet covers for Team SASS (Southern All-Star Skaters). Overall, I have had a fulfilling roller derby career. However, I’ve been a member of the L.O.R.D.S. much longer than an active, competitive skater. Who are the L.O.R.D.S., you ask?
We didn’t lose many skaters after that first season in 2005, but by the end of season two it was clear – some girls were tired of skating and needed to get back to non-derby life. Instead of losing touch with these amazing women, Foxfire (Cheryl Reeves) and Slam Adams (Lynn Nawrocki) discussed gatherings and group outings for retirees. Fancy and proper affairs where one could reminisce about yesteryear, when it was entirely appropriate to use your forearms or cut the track any time a lady was inclined to do so. Thus, the Loyal Order of Retired Distinguished Skaters (LORDS) was birthed. Any skater who retires after one or more seasons with ARG has earned all the privileges associated with the title of L.O.R.D. And every season that ARG adds new recruits to their fresh meat program inevitably we gain a few more L.O.R.D.S.
You’ve probably seen (or more likely heard) us. We’re that distinguished [older] group of ladies who sit in turn one at ARG home games. We like to heckle the announcers and sometimes the refs, all while shaking our canes and thumping our top hats at the young whipper-snappers. We’ve taken trips to the sea, a sabbatical to Dollywood, and we’ve even shown up at out of town roller derby events. Some of us never really retired from roller derby. We just stopped skating.
At the next ARG home game, we invite you to saunter over to our section. We’ll be happy to answer any questions about roller derby, the history of our league, or simply toast to a jolly good time. Just don’t ask us about the current rules unless you want an earful of how things were back in “our time.”
I’m happy the L.O.R.D.S. exist. If not to pass down the very real history of this amazing league, then at least to allow me to see the faces of my friends; those strong women who helped form this league and started a social movement in the city of Atlanta. I’ll see all you future L.O.R.D.S. on the other side of the track!