South West Angels of Terror roller derby girls are not to be messed with
What do a PHD student, a Police Officer and an Art teacher have in common? I'll give you a clue – it includes lycra, roller-skates and a whole lot of nerve.
Still can't work it out? All these women are roller-girls for the South West Angels of Terror Roller Derby team – a contact sport for women that has taken Somerset by storm.
Last Saturday the Taunton and Exeter based roller girls had Wellsprings Leisure Centre in Taunton full to bursting when they hosted the semi-final of the South West Roller Derby Championships.
Cheers screams and chants could be heard across the leisure complex, which may have been unfortunate for anyone who fancied a quiet session in the gym at the weekend.
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The girls, completely decked out in colourful lycra and fluorescent war paint, stormed their way into victory scoring 466 points against Cornwall's Kernow Rollers who scored just 76.
And although roller derby can be pretty brutal at times, both teams insist that sportsmanship is alive and well within the sport.
S.W.A.T. Jammer, Kimberly Rainford (a.k.a. Flash Bo-Dash), explained: "The team spirit in Derby is amazing and although we hit each other on the track there is a motto; 'what happens on the track,stays on the track'"
"We were all elated to have won and can't wait for the final on April 6th with the Plymouth City Roller Girls."
Roller Derby brings women together from all different walks of life, and despite practicing three days a week and being delegated different jobs for the team, such as PR Officer, many of the girls still work full time.
Kimberly said: "I run my own photography studio which allows me to be flexible with my working hours. I practice with the team three days a week which can really take it out of you.
"I really enjoy it, Roller Derby is a fantastic cardiovascular work-out as well as mentally challenging as it's a very tactical game."
She added: "In our team we have an accountant, a nurse at Musgrove Park Hospital, a Financial Risk Assessor and a Police Woman to name a few – the sport tends to bring together unique and dedicated individuals."
This just goes to show that Roller Derby is not just a sport for the physically strong but it attracts powerful and independent women (who probably need to let off a bit of steam in their spare time).
I asked Kimberly to tell me what the sport takes out of you physically… a lot, it turns out.
"We are expected to hit, push and shove our way past the other team so you often come back with bruises," she said, "but the bruises are known as Derby kisses and worn with pride
"Some girls wear bum-pads as well as knee elbow and wrist guards because if you're taken out you're going straight down no matter what, it can really knock the wind out of you.
"I train with kettle-bells a lot of the time to build up my muscles because strength is really an advantage in Roller Derby."
Now, the roller-girls are gearing up for the finals in Plymouth later this month and although they have had a great season – they still have all to play for.
The winner of the championships will have accumulated the most points over the season – so even if the girls win the match, overall victory is not necessarily in the bag.
"We have had a great season and have won all of our games so far! " Kimberly explained.
"On Saturday we were in a nice position though because even if we lost we still had enough points to go through to the finals.
"We have a great team with some really great girls so we're looking forward to a great battle!"
The girls go head to head with the Plymouth City Roller Girls on April 6, 2013 at the championship final.
So if you have never experienced Roller Derby before, I urge you to go along and support these girls at the epic end to their Roller Derby season this April. You can keep updated by visiting the South West Angels of Terror Facebook page.
ROLLER DERBY - PICTURE SPECIAL