Cape Fear Roller Girls Bout Benefitting Special Olympics
March 9th, 6 p.m.
Scwartz Center, CFCC
601 N. Front Street
Tickets: $10-$12 • etix.com
She’s a stay-at-home mom, a dentist office manager, postal service carrier, a Zumba instructor, interior design student. Oh, she’s also a fierce woman whose a shark on wheels. All of these women mean business when it comes to play time.
The Cape Fear Roller Girls (CFRG), which started in 2005, has become Wilmington’s premier flat-track derby team with now over 30 members. CFRG is a nonprofit organization dedicated to community development and improving Wilmington’s beloved areas, all while roughing up one another on the rink.
Roller derby, which is said to be pure entertainment, encompasses the ultimate blend of speed and agility, skill and strategy. Women are able to make hard hits and take them just as well. It’s not quite rugby on wheels, but it does take strong competitive spirit to the next level. This is truly a sport not meant for the light-hearted.
One of the fastest growing sports in the world, even securing their own World Cup, roller derby continues to grab Wilmington’s attention and regularly fills the Schwartz Center of Cape Fear Community College with eager fans. The reason the massive crowds—averaging 400 to 500 per bout—keep coming back is because they love the action.
“Even if you are unfamiliar with the rules, roller derby is always engaging,” Michelle Ingraham, who works the skating persona of “Fiona Fatale,” says. “You may even see some acrobatics, like backwards skating or jumping skaters.”
On Saturday, March 9th the Roller Girls will be competing against the Low Country High Rollers. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Special Olympics of New Hanover County (SONHC). The team is a nonprofit organization with heavy expenses. Last year, their costs reached $63,000. However, the girls keep roller derby alive by raising money and having sponsors; their biggest source of income is from the Wilmingtonians who attend every bout.
Ingraham, the team’s PR and sponsorship representative, quips, “People may not be aware that we actually donate 10 percent of our door proceeds from every bout to a different local charity, [as will] our first bout of the season, Crash of the Titans.”
It is CFRG’s first year working with SONHC. In addition to donating proceeds, the roller girls also volunteer for the beneficiary’s fund-raising events. Even a few of the league members participated in SONHC’s Polar Plunge on February 23rd.
Ingraham adds, “We try to focus on local charities that have a direct impact in our community across all areas of interest. As a nonprofit group, it is important to give back to the community who supports us.”
With stage names like “Iona Trailer,” “Ann T. Gravity,” “Violet Outlaw” and “Toe Up” it is clear intimidation is not used lightly. But in reality, derby girls are known for being a group of strong, independent women who welcome anyone to join their ranks.
Ingraham says, “Each player is extremely dedicated, independent and strong in her own way, but above all, we are a team. We support each other as a league.”
Though the sport is known for its rough demeanor, it does follow strict rules, which if not obeyed, result in immediate expulsion from the bout. Punching or elbowing people in the face is not allowed; bumps and bruises are common in any contact sport, but the league follows safety guidelines to ensure major injuries are prevented.
“We always have two EMTs on site at any bout in case of emergency,” Ingraham informs, “but, generally, they just enjoy the bout with everyone else.”
There are 12-week training programs that run consistently throughout the year for interested players, either as a skater or a referee. The physicality of the sport can be demanding, which makes the referee appealing to some. “The greatest aspect of derby is that it is playable by anyone of any shape, size, or age,” Ingraham assures. “If you are willing to put the time in to training, anyone can be a derby girl. I can honestly say it was the best decision I ever made.”
The Cape Fear Roller Girls, though they look and act tough, have soft hearts that continuously reach out to Wilmington. By attending their events, purchasing sponsorship packages or donating to the organization at www.capefearrollergirls.com, supporters are doing more than watching a sport; they’re becoming directly active in our nonprofit community.
The girls are always looking for volunteers at the matches, from participating as a non-skating official, taking tickets, helping with security, doing concessions or breaking down their rink.
Tickets for the March 9th bout cost $10 and can be purchased at etix.com; the door price is $12. Kids ages 6 to 10 cost $5 and children under six are free. Season passes are $60, also at etix.com. Military and student discounts are available.