Roller Girls face Columbia in first bout
The Appalachian Roller Girls are about to hit harder.
Saturday marks the girls' first bout, where the elbows come faster, the ref calls are harsher, and the nerves? They're about to be tested.
"I'm really extremely nervous and excited at the same time," Silverback Betz, aka Katie Betz said.
And while the roller derby is certainly a show, it's an organized sport with strict rules and fierce competition. Points are scored when the "jammer" laps players on the other team without going out of bounds. The other team, in the meantime, has players trying to stop the jammer from accomplishing her goal, and it gets intense. Think bruises, crashes and everything in between.
While the girls have been skating for about a year, this is the first time they're playing a real game. It's a different animal than the scrimmages they've faced in the past.
"The scrimmages are just kind of practice bouts, so they're not as strict," Betz said.
To counter-attack, the girls have been hitting the rink and strategizing, but it's not just about what's going on with the skates.
"There's going to be a huge audience," she said. "That puts a little more pressure."
In the year since the girls first started experimenting with those fishnets, they've become more than a team, Betz said. It's a family, albeit non-traditional.
"They've been holding me up," she said. "We're tight, man. We all have big differences but still, at the same time, it's like, mess with one, you mess with all of us ... It's like we're in this secret, elite club."
And it's addictive.
"You have no idea until you get into it just how obsessed you're going to be with it," she said.
Appalachian Roller Girls brainchild Jordyn Coates, aka J. Gnaws Tin, would agree. She can't wait to play.
"I believe we're ready to take on anything," she said. "This is just brand new territory, and I'm hoping we excel at it."
The team the girls face in Columbia has an undefeated all-star squad.
"So, they've been training the team we're playing against," she said. "It's going to be a little rough."
But, she promises, our girls have heart. For more information on the team and to find out how you can get involved, friend Appalachian Roller Girls on Facebook.
Winter Wonder Jam happens at 4:30 p.m. Saturday (doors open at 4 p.m.) at Jamil Temple (206 Jamil Road, Columbia, S.C.), and there will be a "killer" after party. The Appalachian Roller Girls face off against Columbia Quad Squad's Miss B-Havers.
Another bout happens in February in Charleston. As for the highly anticipated home bout? Expect the skates to spark June 18.