Families and fans rolled into the Savannah Civic Center on May 12 to watch the Savannah Derby Devils duke it out with the Rogue Rollergirls from Fayetteville, N.C.
The Rogue Rollergirls got off to an early lead, but they were no match for the Derby Devils’ amazing jammers. “No Mercy Jersey” and “Ira Fuse” racked up points fast by outfoxing the Rollergirls with quick footwork and strong stability despite aggressive blocks.
“I skated when I was younger and I saw an ad on Facebook. I was like, ‘Oh that’s looks like fun,’ and I came to a tryout. And I’ve been here ever since,” said Clarissa “No Mercy Jersey” Ruiz, the Savannah Derby Devils co-president.
The Devils schooled the out-of-towners 189 to 40.
While some might think roller derby is nothing more than girls fighting on skates, it is a complex and strategic game. Roller derby consists of two thirty-minute halves filled with a series of “jams” that can last up to two minutes. Each team has 14 skaters and five at a time are sent on to the track for each jam. Three of them form “the pack,” led by a “pivot” who is noted by the stripe on her helmet.
The fifth player is the “jammer” who is distinguished by the star on her helmet. Jammers are fast and nimble. They try to lap the pack as many times as possible because each opposing player they pass is worth one point. The first jammer to get through the pack wins the status of “lead jammer” giving her the ability to call off the jam whenever she wants. The jam ends when the lead jammer calls it off or when two minutes has passed.
“No Mercy Jersey” is a talented jammer in her fourth season with the Devils. “Everybody supports everybody else like a big giant family. I couldn’t imagine not doing this because of them,” said Jersey.
While injury is a natural part of this full-contact sport, the game was heavily monitored. Four referees watched for a vast number of penalties, and more than four officials kept track of scores and repeated rule breakers.
“I think it is a lot of fun. It’s kind of a family atmosphere. We have a play area for the kids and we have the beer garden area for the other people. It’s an aggressive, but fun, sport to watch,” said Jessie “Bomb Deluis” Larson, Devils co-president.
If you’re interested in seeing if you’ve got what it takes to play, the Devils offer tryouts at various times throughout the year. They also host a week-long boot camp in January.
“It’s four nights, two hours a night. We go over skills. It’s $20 and we provide all the gear and then we have a really awesome kick-off after party. And then invite them to keep practicing so they can join the team,” said Deluis, who got involved two years ago when she realized she was bored with sitting around her house and wanted to try something new for her birthday.
For more information about the Savannah Derby Devils or to find a schedule of upcoming games, visit www.savannahderby.com.Contact Ingela Hartman.