A New Wave Of Roller Derby Makes Its Way To East Texas - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


A New Wave Of Roller Derby Makes Its Way To East Texas

With fast moving drama and hard hitting violence, it's like professional wrestling on roller skates. You might be surprised, however, these gladiators are local women. Mild mannered moms are putting on fishnet tights and tank tops, and sometimes a brand new personality to do battle on the rink.  The sport that's been around for generations known as Roller Derby is back, and it's made its way to East Texas.

From college students, to high school teachers, to full time mothers, twice a week a group of women, the East Texas Bombers, lay it all out all the rink.  

"It's a great stress reliever," said Erica Cummings, or Lets R. Bleed. 

"It's cool," said Melissa Kiser, or Red Death. "We wear cool clothes. We have funky attitudes. "

"It's the best anger management and outlet that you will ever have," said Kendra Stec, or Eve-A-Rella. Kendra Stec of Tyler started the local league, the East Texas Bombers, last year after watching her sister-in-law play Roller Derby in Dallas.

"It's been really hard," said Stec. "It's probably taken us almost a whole year just to get our team." The reason, she says is a little pushing and shoving the players say is just part of the game.

"The best part about Roller Derby is being able to knock your friends down, or hit your friends and still be friends afterwards," said Stec.  

"After you play a game sometimes you feel like you've been hit by a truck," said Cummings.  "You have a few bruises, but that's all in the fun of it." Roller Derby dates all the way back to the 1930's when a Chicago man came up with the idea of a skating spectacle to compete with the dance marathon craze during that time.   It was a 4,000 mile cross country race where a man and a woman took turns skating laps.   Legend has it the body contact attracted spectators, which catapulted the sport in the 1950's and again in the 70's.  Back then, however, like professional wrestling, a lot of the moves and hits were choreographed.  That's not the case today because shoving is a necessity to help what's called the jammer get through the pack.  

"The people that are the jammers are the ones that score the points," said Stec. With more than a 130 leagues across the nation, Roller Derby is popping up in almost every major city. It's an aggressive sport, the East Texas Bombers say women have been waiting for.

"I think any girl could be successful at this," said Kiser. "I would like to picture myself as some shy timid person, and then I come in here and it's no holding back."

"I like meeting new people, and like Red Death said there's all walks of life in this game," said Gillian Vatista, or TuMadre. It's a game that's becoming so popular, it may soon be slamming into a roller rink near you.

The ages on the team range from 21 to 42 years old. The East Texas Bombers say they are looking for more women to join the league.   On Sunday, March 4th at 6:30 p.m. you can come out and meet the team at the Tyler Inline Hockey Center located at 6702 South Broadway. It's not tryouts, but rather an opportunity for you to learn more about the sport.   For more information on the East Texas Bombers and how you can watch them play log on to our homepage and click on the Know More on 7 link. There you will find East Texas Roller Derby.

Molly Reuter, reporting. mreuter@kltv.com


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