The women at Pensacola Roller Derby aren’t just skating around scantily clad and heavily made up trying to knock each other down. These women are giving back to the community—one car wash and Jello-wrestling match at a time.
“It’s very rewarding in the end,” said Kathy Davis, the league’s president. “It’s like a second family the way the girls all come together.”
Pensacola Roller Derby donates at least 15 percent of their profits from car washes and community barbeques to the local Veteran’s Association.
“We do try to give back to the community,” Davis said.
When Pensacola Roller Derby isn’t hosting a community event, they are busy recruiting people for the league.
“It’s always hard getting the word out when you don’t have a lot of money for PR,” Davis explained. “Recruitment is one of the biggest things.”
Right now, Pensacola Roller Derby only has about six to eight women skating for them, which means they can’t have bouts, or matches, because they don’t have enough league members.
“Once we get enough girls, there are a lot of teams we will be able to play, like Santa Rosa and Panama City,” Davis said.
You don’t have to know how to skate, but because things can get rough, you do have to be at least 18 years old.
“We have girls from 18-32 years old,” Davis added. “Any woman who wants to skate can do so.”
For those who want to join, but have no experience, be rest assured that the coach, as well as the other girls, will teach you everything you need to know.
“Our coach is Lil’ Bob,” Davis said. “He’s a biker guy, but he’s good on skates.”
Pensacola Roller Derby will be holding open skates at Dreamland on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m., and anyone is welcome to come and skate, or just meet the girls and talk about the league.
“We don’t have tryouts,” Davis continued. “We definitely encourage girls to come down and talk to us first, because some people feel it can be intimidating.”
Although the spirit of sisterhood is strong in roller derby, so is the spirit of knocking other girls out.
“Some girls are a lot more hardcore,” Davis said. “Some girls get thrown out of the rink for fighting—it can get pretty rough.”
Roller derby has a reputation for getting rowdy, but it’s not a requirement and many games go on without a fight.
“It’s not staged, it’s real,” Davis explained. “People think it’s like wrestling, but it’s not. A lot of times the games are very civil.”
The Pensacola Roller Derby League will be hosting a car wash at O’Reilly’s Auto Parts on Ninth Avenue to garner support and recruit members.
Roller derby has seen a spike in interest over the past 10 years, and even in the past six months, thanks to the movie “Whip It,” starring Ellen Page and Drew Barrymore.
“It’s a good movie,” Davis said. “The movie definitely shows the spirit of derby.”
Pensacola Roller Derby is recruiting members for the league, but they’re also recruiting referees and cheerleaders, which can be male or female.
“Some people come down and watch us play and really love it, but they don’t think they’re cut out for it, so they become cheerleaders for us instead,” Davis said. “Skating is like riding a bike—it can be fun, but it can also end up kicking your butt.”
PENSACOLA ROLLER DERBY CAR WASH
WHEN: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10
WHERE: O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, 6511 N. Ninth Ave.