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Why the Texas Roller Girls Remind Me of My Grandma

TEXECUTIONERS rolled against the Cincinnati Rollergirls on Saturday, April 17th. As I watched the bout, I began to wonder, why do Austinites love roller derby? Besides the hog dogs and beer, the scantily-clad chicks in skates, and the competition; is there something more? Something that draws hundreds of people in support of the roller girls? I scoped the stands of the Austin Convention Center, where the bout was held, in search of a common characteristic amongst its fans. Then, I noticed four middle-aged women sitting directly in front of me; they obviously knew nothing about the game; why were they at the bout? And, I began thinking of my grandma.

But, before I get into the commonalities between my grandma and the Texas Roller Girls, let me quickly mention that the TEXECUTIONERS creamed Cincinnati. And, if you don’t know much about roller derbies, you’ll be interested to learn that teams accumulate points by defending their jammer, who rolls around the rink to score. The jammer wears a star on her helmet.

Yes, helmets are a necessity. These girls are hammering shoulders into one another throughout the duration of the bout. A jammer stands to be knocked down multiple times a night. I scrolled through the list of bumps and bruises sustained by the TEXECUTIONERS—WOW! They’re no joke: Cheap Trixie broke her leg in 2010 and had a “massive hematoma” in 2003; Curvette tore her PCL (knee injury); and Devil Grrl busted her tailbone, among other injuries. More info about the TEXECUTIONERS and their injuries here. On a more humorous note, the Cincinnati Rollergirls’ coach was so distressed during the bout, on account of his team getting slaughtered, that he ran around like Lance in Pulp Fiction just before injecting Mrs. Mia Wallace with an adrenaline shot. And he looked quite like Eric Stoltz from my perspective.

Okay, back to the topic at hand, why do these short-skirted, decorated body-slammers called the TEXECUTIONERS remind me of my grandma? No, not because my grandma liked to chug beer, or skate. My grandma wasn’t even particularly athletic.

But, my grandma was a quintessentially strong, Texas, liberal woman. She had bright red hair that color-matched UT’s burnt orange. She’d kick you out her house if you interrupted the longhorns playing football, or disagreed with her politics. And, it was right here in Austin that such a robust woman was formed. When most “ladies” sought their M.R.S degree, she graduated from the University of Texas in 1954, member of the Mortar Board honor society, with a BS in education. She was a career woman, not likely to take a backseat to the proverbial Lone Ranger.

It’s safe to say that each of the TEXECUTIONERS wants to be the Lone Ranger, not saved by him. Thus, it’s this spirit of Austinites supporting its strong women that reminds me of my grandma. While I watched the Roller Girls power through a bout, and the frenzied fans cheering from the bleachers, I realized we were cheering for that quintessentially strong woman in every roller girl. And, that the beers and hot dogs are just perks. So, go get ‘em TEXECUTIONERS—more power to ya. I’m glad to be one of the fans in support of the Texas Roller Girls!

Check out the great photos from the bout. Photo credit: Rowan Ogden.

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