No style points, only grit, in the end

AMY HAMILTON/The Daily Sentinel—Grand Junction Roller Girls skater Hannah Evans, left, known as the “Anne Shank,” shoves Tara Hastings, aka “Sonic Death Monkey,” of Denver-based Project Mayhem, in a roller derby bout Sunday at Spin City in Grand Junction. The event attracted an enthusiastic crowd of about 100 people.

It wasn’t the final score that mattered, although the Denver team trounced Grand Junction’s Roller Girls.

It was more about the practice. It was about the heart and grit that went into every shove and tussle by the tough girls in helmets and short shorts and the fans who cheered wildly for every one of Grand Junction’s 76 points. That Denver’s Project Mayhem earned more than five times as many points, racking up 402 points by the end of the bout on Sunday at Spin City, wasn’t totally important, players said.

“They’re one of the top-ranking leagues in the world,” said Melina Rose, a Grand Junction Roller Girls “jammer” who goes by the name Anybody KillHer. “To play them is a chance to get better. Seventy-six isn’t a lot of points (in this bout) but it is a lot to us.”

Grand Junction Roller Girls is Grand Junction’s first roller derby team, playing for about four years now. Every league can have up to three teams, so the Roller Girls constantly are seeking new members to form more teams.

Audience member Lori Goodson said she loves to watch the games and learns a bit more about how the game works every time she watches a bout.

“The girls work their butts off,” she said admiringly. “They’re not afraid to fall. I’ve seen girls with bruises all the way up their legs.”

Teams designate a jammer, or a person who scores points, with the help of her team, by maneuvering through the other team’s skaters. Points are earned when a jammer laps the opposing team.

There’s plenty of body contact, hip checks and blocks and fancy skating by team members to score points.

It’s the dressing up that 9-year-old, Alexus Goodson, Lori Goodson’s granddaughter, likes the best.

Her favorite roller derby girl is Anybody KillHer, loving that she paints her face like a skull. KillHer is sidelined while she is pregnant with her second child, but still shows up to bouts in fishnet stockings, short shorts and a her trademark face paint.

“She’s just one of those really cool people,” Alexus said.

Alexus said she’s a beginner skater, but she’s learning to possibly one day play on a team. Grand Junction doesn’t have a junior league and players must be at least 18.

Players hail from all walks of life with any number of day jobs such as teaching, being a student or a mom, Rose said.

“You really don’t have to be some bad ass,” she said.

Rose said the first time she skated as a jammer, she couldn’t stop smiling.

“I may be small, but I can sneak around them,” Rose said.

Grand Junction Roller Girls next skate against Durango on Aug. 17. After that bout, the local team will be eligible for ranking by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.

For information about the Grand Junction Roller Girls, visit their Facebook page by searching with their name.


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