Two teams of athletes sliced across a concrete arena, slamming one another with a brutality found only in distinct corners of the sports world. A Rebel Army Derby jammer skirted past her teammates and broke through her competitors’ locked arms. The surrounding crowd exploded into cheers as the scorekeeper marked the team’s due points.
On April 23, Hattiesburg’s Rebel Army Derby hosted a bout against the Roe City Rollers of Monroe, Louisiana at the Forrest County Multipurpose Center from 6-9 p.m. with a turnout of more than 100 attendees.
The Rebel Army Derby formed one year ago and began playing away games out of state. The bout at the Multipurpose Center was their first home game.
At the end of the night, the Rebel Army secured a win, 206-69.
Rebel Army Derby jammer and former bench coach Mini Mayhem said the event was a success and that this was her first bout as a team member.
“The game was freaking awesome,” Mayhem said. “I’ve coached bouts, and this was the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen. It felt pretty good. The Roe City Rollers are a great team — they’re very supportive in the ring. It’s good to skate with them.”
At halftime, Sven Defor, a referee from Baton Rouge, said the event was going “really well.”
“It’s two teams that have been around for a little while,” Defor said. “RAD is kind of a newer league, but they’ve put in a lot of work. This is their first full bouting season, and this is their first bout of the season as a team. The other team, the Roe City Rollers, have been around for a minute, but they’ve got a lot of new skaters.”
Women are not the only ones who duke it out on skates. According to Defor, men compete
“The only difference is the sexes,” Defor said. “The rules are the same. The game is played the same way. The only real difference that you’ll probably notice between men and women playing is that women are a lot more technical and use a lot more strategy in their playing, whereas the guys mostly hit everything that moves.”
Chris “Goat” Holzinger, game announcer and art professor at William Carey University, said volunteering for the sport is “an absolutely fantastic” experience.
“These ladies work really hard,” Holzinger said. “It’s just a pleasure to be out here to announce for them. Everyone played really well and got along really well. There was no big animosity or anything. Everyone had a good time. We had people from Hattiesburg here who have never seen a roller derby before, and they seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves.”
Holzinger said the Roller Army Derby plans to host more events in Hattiesburg.
“This is their first ever home bout,” he said. “They’ve played several away games, but now they have a facility to play in.”
According to Defor, roller derby is a DIY sport and is nothing short of a lifestyle.
“We do this for the love of it,” Defor said. “It would be nice if we got paid, but we don’t. It’s all volunteer work. We do it for the sheer joy of the game.”