The Morgantown Roller Vixens are speeding into action as their first home bout approaches.
Morgantown’s first and only flat-track roller derby league is preparing for its first home bout of the season this Saturday afternoon, May 13, and welcoming some new skaters to the track. “We have a lot of skaters that just started in September,” says Morgantown Roller Vixens captain Beth Garbutt—aka Blas, short for Bohemian Blasphemy. “We had an away game that was kind of a crash course in ‘Hey, here’s a game,’ but they’ve done the training. We’ve been working hard.”
Captain Blas shared a spectator crash-course to help fresh meat like us feel a little more in-the-know at this weekend’s bout—and you’re going to want to be there.
- MRV plays flat-track derby, meaning level ground around an oval track. A typical team roster is about 15 skaters.
- Bouts are split into two 30-minute halves made up of jams that can last up to two minutes each.
- Each team fields five skaters for a jam: one “jammer” and four “blockers.”
- Look for the helmets that have a star on them—those are your jammers. According to Garbutt, their job is to fight their way through the blockers and lap them on the track, earning points for each opposing player they lap. Blockers are the offensive and defensive lines trying to help their jammers get through while blocking the other team’s.
- No kicking, tripping, or punching is allowed during a bout. Still, it is a full-contact sport, and you’ll see legal hip and shoulder checks, all executed with strategy in mind.
- Back blocks are one of the biggest penalties you can see on the track. Jammers are moving quickly, often coming in fast and hitting the blockers to break through their lines. However, if a jammer’s hit lands in the spinal region—shoulder blades and in—the player is penalized.
- If you catch a jammer tapping her hips, that means she is calling off the jam. Jammers can call off a jam at any time for any reason, like being too tired to continue through the remaining jam time or preventing another jammer from scoring.
MRV always welcomes new skaters. If you’re interested in joining, reach out via social media or check out the website to learn more. “We have some loaner gear,” Garbutt says. “If someone wants to try roller derby, all they need is a mouth guard.” And no, you don’t have to be an accomplished roller skater to qualify.
MRV faces Ohio Valley Roller Derby (OVRD) at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, at the Hazel Ruby Community Center at Mylan Park. Tickets are $10, with fans 12 and under getting seats to the action for free. WVU students: flash your student ID to get in for only $5.