The Double Lives of Charlotte Roller Derby’s Players

Storytelling

A fun profile of the Charlotte Roller Derby team and the players’ day jobs.

Photo by Rusty Williams

RYE UNZIPS HER GYM BAG and pulls out the gear: knee and elbow pads, wrist guards, mouthguard, helmet, and a pair of slick, black skates with bamboo-colored wheels. She spends a couple of minutes explaining each item to a dozen people, mostly women, at the Charlotte Roller Derby’s orientation at Kate’s Skating Rink in Gastonia.

Until she’s interrupted by a smiling, 5-foot-2 woman in a black T-shirt and purple yoga shorts and a knot of dreadlocks fixed to the top of her head. “Yeah, yeah, yeah!” Ka$h Honey shouts as she gallops to the front of the room to join Rye, a.k.a. Katch Her in the Rye. “Let’s do it!”

Orientation is over.

On the rink, skaters divide into two teams, mixing the experienced players with newer ones. The goal is to win “jams,” or episodes within the game. Each side designates a “jammer” to push past four blockers in order to score, one point for each pass. It’s a full-contact sport that ends after two half-hour periods.

Ka$h (yes, with a dollar sign) watches with me from the sidelines to prevent reinjuring a shoulder she hurt years ago before roller derby. She explains the rules while Princess Slaya jumps past a few blockers to score another batch of points and President Beer skates backwards as she holds the other team’s jammer. Ka$h is itching to get on the rink.

“You gonna play?” a teammate asks her.

Ka$h smirks and cracks the tab of a Monster energy drink. “Maybeee.” 

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