Memphis Roller Derby take on Hard Knox in the Honky Tonk Stomp, the official state Women’s Flat Track Derby Association Tournament, at the Appalachian Fairgrounds. Memphis won this match. (Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press)
Four Tennessee roller derby teams tightened up their skates Saturday to compete in the Honky Tonk Stomp, the official state Women’s Flat Track Derby Association Tournament, at the Appalachian Fairgrounds.
But, it was the Memphis Roller Derby that took home the trophy and bragging rights for the next year.
The competition ended right at press time, with the host Little City Rollergirls taking on Memphis Roller Derby in the day’s final bout.
The hard-hitting competition’s wheels began to roll with Hard Knox Roller Girls’ win over Chattanooga Roller Girls in the first bout at 10 a.m.
Chattanooga made a comeback during the next bout with their win against Little City.
During the next bout, Memphis came back from a massive point gap to win against Hard Knox.
As she came off the track after her first bout of the tournament, Memphis jammer Cindy “Lil Cinner” Dyer said Hard Knox played a tough game, but she was excited her team won the match.
“It feels good, but it was a brutal game,” Dyer said. “It went back and forth for a while. We were up, but then they came back and adjusted. We started playing not quite so together and kind of lost our composure, but we got it back and came back to win at the end.”
The first taste of victory for Dyer was possibly the boost of confidence the whole team needed to bring the state tournament trophy back to Memphis.
“We are defending champs this year,” Dyer said. “We are wanting to take it back home this year.”
Hard Knox came in second place overall followed by Chattanooga and Little City in fourth place.
Little City Rollergirls President Jen “The Jenerator” Larsen said the tournament wins will be added to each charter team’s rank for regional and national competitions.
“Charter teams playing today will go up or down in the rankings according to the turnout of the games today,” Larsen said.
Larsen said Nashville was the only Tennessee team that was not able to make it to the tournament.
“This is the first year there have been four,” Larsen said. “There’s usually always been three teams. Maybe next year we can get all five teams together.”
During the tournament, Teresa White, also known as Blown Fuse in Memphis, said she was more than happy to make the nearly nine-hour drive to support her significant other as well as all the girls skating for Memphis Roller Derby.
“My girlfriend is on the track right now,” White said. “I’m always here rooting for her, but I’m rooting for all the Memphis girls.”
Although White was on the verge of losing her voice, she said there is no reason to ever stop having her home team’s back by cheering from the suicide line.
“I’ll definitely be hoarse by tomorrow and this is only their first bout,” she laughed. “They need to know they are supported and they have people in the crowd watching them.”
Despite the fact the group of friends he had planned on going with couldn’t make it, Knoxville resident Andrew Reeder said he decided to come anyway and did not feel alone at all.
Reeder said he made new friends among the other spirited Knoxville fans who made the drive to Johnson City and a connection to all others in attendance through roller derby.
“I just love it,” Reeder said. “I came to my first home bout in Knoxville last year and I fell in love with it.”
Saturday was Reeder’s first roller derby tournament experience and as he was on the verge of losing his voice from screaming motivation through his megaphone, he hoped his team could hold out even longer.
“It’s all about endurance,” Reeder said about fan support and each team competing multiple times at the tournament. “When you’re on the road, it seems like there is even more enthusiasm.”
He said his favorite part of roller derby is the camaraderie among fans and teams.
“It’s really all of these people,” Reeder said. “It’s more than just a sport. It’s almost like a philosophy or a way of life. It’s like a big family.”
Returning roller derby fans were able to sit together like family beside the flat track and Larsen said she hopes the tournament turned a few more people on to the sport.
“This is what we do this for,” Larsen said. “We don’t practice, put in overtime hours and pay dues solely just so we can skate in bouts. We do this because we love bringing all these people here and introducing them to roller derby. The first-time fans are some of our favorite people and we love our regular fans. We do this for them.”
The roller derby family will meet again Sunday with three non-sanctioned bouts starting at 10 a.m. with the Little City Junior Roller Girls. Tickets are $12 at the door. For more information, go to littlecityrollergirls.com.