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Roller derby, which has been described as a mix between hockey and football on quad skates, has been around since the 1930s and initially began as roller skating races. The sport, which was popular for 40 years, dwindled in the ’70s but was revived again in 2000 when Texas Derby Teams started establishing player owned and operated organizations. Today, Roller Derby is America’s fastest growing sport.

JoLynn Bryant, 43, along with several other local moms, is looking to start a flat track roller derby league in Western North Carolina.”

I saw a bout a couple of years ago and immediately fell in love with the energy of the sport. I told my husband right then that I was putting ‘roller derby girl’ on my bucket list. I never dreamed it might actually come true! I didn’t even skate back then,” Bryant said.

One of the main requirements to become a recognized WFTDA League is a team of ten women who practice at least two hours a week. Bryant believes they can do even better than that. Her goal is 20 women, so two teams of ten can bout each other in practice. The popularity of the sport is growing resulting in leagues sprouting up everywhere. The Blue Ridge Roller Girls, a widely recognized team from Asheville, has recently been granted a WFTDA Apprenticeship after only two years and Bryson City has a new team, The Smoky Mountain Roller Girls, which has formed in the last two months.

Casey Queen, a 31-year-old Dillsboro resident, is looking forward to joining the new league. She said that she’s never played before but she’s always loved skating and thought she would enjoy it, the exercise and the networking.

Organizers are looking for ladies 18 and over who are ready to rock! You do not have to be a professional skater. Women are needed of all shapes, sizes and skill levels who are ready to get involved in something exciting, meet new friends, get some great exercise and have fun.

The group is holding its first meeting at Smoky Mountain Sk8way, located at 19025 Great Smoky Mountain Expressway( HWY 24/74) next to the Waynesville Cycle Center, on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. This will be an introduction to the sport ending with an open skate.

“We want anyone and everyone who might be interested to come find out more about roller derby,” Bryant said. “You know, a lot of the best roller girls never skated before they started derby.”

If you’re not sure about skating there’s still lots of room for you. Men and women 18 and over may join in a variety of roles including referees, coaches, bout production, photographer and general help. Anyone of any age can help support the team through promoting, fundraising, sponsoring, cheerleading and attending events and matches.

Call (828)246-9124 if you have any questions.


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