The Girls you Love to Hate:
Meet the Jacksonville RollerGirls, informally known as the First Coast Femme Fatales. Jacksonville's only all-female roller derby league is comprised of two competitive teams, the River City Rat Pack and the Rink Revolvers, and an all-star, traveling exhibition team, the New Jax City Rollers. The teams hit the rinks to compete against other Florida teams with imposing names like the Tallahassee Capital Punishment and the Molly Roger Rollergirls. Home bouts play out at Skate Station Mandarin, 3461 Kori Road, and attract upwards of 500 spectators.
Meet the Girls:
These ain't your pearls-and-pumps society gals. At least not during the workday hours. The Jacksonville RollerGirls roller derby league attracts women of all sizes, shapes and backgrounds, from pharmacists to bartenders to construction framers to hair dressers.
"There is no typical roller derby girl," says JoAnn Capps, aka Andi Capps'em, league owner. "We come from every walk of life that would never otherwise interact with each other. We have girls who are religious and girls who have never stepped foot in a church. But we are best friends."
All in a Name:
There are a few similarities, however. Namely the sheer physical athleticism it takes to take and dole out a beating on four wheels.
"We're all loud, outspoken girls," Capps says.
And with names like Kat Von Skratchereyesout, Deviant Behavior and Booty Skool Dropout, these women are sending a message. While their bouts are "rated 'M' for 'mature,'" Capps says, the Jacksonville RollerGirls consider themselves role models for today's 16-and-up females.
"We're about empowering women," says Capps, who helped found the league in 2002. You're not just dainty little girls. You can do anything."
Pay to Play:
Jacksonville's derby divas pay $10 monthly dues, buy their own equipment and devote hours each week to the organization.
"We definitely do not get any compensation other than the enjoyment of it," Capps says. "At the beginning, I did this because I really enjoyed the sport. Now, I couldn't possibly miss an event because I'd let down 30 of my closest friends."
Roller derby has gone through several popularity cycles over the past century. Purists say the last cycle was ruined by those who put money before the sport. Today, teams are player-owned and operated, keeping the love of the sport front and center.
Lace Up your Skates:
Think you've got what it takes to be a RollerGirl? All you gotta be is 18 and willing. Practices are Wednesdays 8:00-10:30 p.m. and Sundays 10:00 a.m.-noon. The team also needs volunteers, male and female, for on- and off-track positions, including referees and EMTs. Corporate sponsorships also are available, with levels ranging from $350-$1,500 and bearing names like the Bruise, the Busted Lip, the Black Eye and the Broken Bone.