50 Shades of Black and Blue
Traveling down U.S. 321 or 421, you may have seen billboards featuring Boone’s local roller derby team.
Those larger than life billboards only give a glimpse of what live roller derby is really like.
Picture two female skaters from the Appalachian Rollergirls (ARG) skating at rapid speeds and performing in a high-intensity game, which is called a bout in the derby world. Sweat drips down their noses, and they wait for the whistle to start the jam. Their eyes meet their opponents’, waiting to see who will flinch first, who will make the first move, so it can quickly be countered with a strong hit or body block.
Every skater has their day job, but on a few Saturdays every month, they are the Appalachian Rollergirls, queens of the roller rink, or – in Boone’s case – queens of the George M. Holmes Convocation Center on the Appalachian State University campus.
According to ARG, its mission is to encourage female athleticism, empowerment and community awareness through activities, events and charity involvement. The league was founded in March 2010 by an ASU student making a post on Facebook. Thanks to Facebook and a local businesswoman, more than 80 women showed up at Skateworld near Boone to check out the revival of the rock ’em, block ’em, knock-down sport known as roller derby.
ARG has since attracted more than 20 very committed women from around the High Country. These women are students, local business owners, bartenders, mothers, physical trainers, massage therapists and the list goes on.
This season, ARG is undefeated with a record of 6-0, having just come off a win in Savannah, Ga., this past weekend with a score of 264-81. The team has experienced tremendous success this season through the coaching of Scott Herman, owner of Muscle Works Massage in Boone.
At the age of 12, Herman started speed-skating and skated competitively for 14 years, followed by 18 years of racing bicycles as a category 2 and master racer. Herman’s athletic past has benefited the growth of ARG through his skating knowledge, discipline and, mostly, his respect for the skaters.
“ARG is a skate-owned and skater-run team,” said ARG team member Shannon Hampton, aka Diesel Pusher.
“Our coach is amazing, and he reminds us that ARG is our team and that – above all the workouts, training and education – respecting our team and each other is extremely important to us. We are all volunteers and play for love of the game, fun, exercise and to raise money for charity, as well as people in the community.”
The next ARG home bout, nicknamed “50 Shades of Black and Blue,” is Saturday, Aug. 4, at the George M. Holmes Convocation Center, starting at 7 p.m. ARG will take on the Carolina Bootleggers from Raleigh. ARG is anticipating this bout to be one of the hardest and most difficult on its 2012 schedule.
Tickets are available in advance online at http://www.theholmescenter.com and at local retail locations: Black Cat Burrito, Boone Drug at Deerfield and Lucky Penny.
For more information, visit http://www.appalachianrollergirls.com. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Brady Bakken Family. Brady is a fifth-grader at Valle Crucis Elementary School who has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Burkitt’s lymphoma.