Skating done right at Birmingham Roller Derby bout

By NANCY WILSTACH / Community Columnist

Talk about your mother-daughter events . . .

Try an evening at a bout of the Tragic City Rollers.

My husband and I made the jaunt up to the Shrine Temple on I-459 to see Montevallo’s own Andrea Northen and daughter Daisy, 9, roller skate like I hadn’t seen since I was a mere teen hanging out at the roller rink. No, I take that back—None of us could skate like Andrea and her TCR teammates, nor could we approach Daisy’s level of roller-skating accomplishment.

This is a full contact sport for women and girls. It’s like football on wheels.

Remember when the Roller Derby was on late-night television? Well, get your nostalgia helmets on because this is it.

Only these skaters are nicer and claim that they don’t try to hurt one another.

“The best thing about it is that it is really challenging and empowering,” Andrea said. “We build each other up.”

That may be, but, the night I was watching, they were knocking each other down . . . hard.  But, the women were smiling even when they were getting back onto their feet for another attempt to either 1) get past the other team’s blockers (if one is a jammer) or 2) block the other team’s jammer if that is your job.

Either way, there is a strong possibility your fanny will hit the floor. Helmets and knee pads protect you somewhat, but the rescue squad is standing by.

Daisy is on Tragic City’s Level 1 team, the Tragic City Troublemakers, while Andrea is a member of the Iron City Maidens, a B-team to the All-Stars. We sat safely in the stands with Bryce, proud husband and father.

“I can do 27 laps in five minutes, and I have to do 28 to get to the All-Stars,” Andrea explained.

A skater must be at least 18 to be on the Maidens or the All-Stars. Daisy, who will be in fourth grade when school starts, has passed her first round of minimum skills for Roller Derby. She and her teammates skate at half-time and between the bouts.

You’ve seen guys throwing a football with their sons? That kind of camaraderie is what you see here.

Joining the TCR is not as hard as it might seem. An ambitious skater need only turn up at Skates 280 June 25 or 27 between 7 and 10 p.m.—visit tragiccityrollers.com to learn more.

There is an element of professional wrestling to this — some showmanship, plus nicknames, although these falls are for real.

Andrea’s nickname is Rip Cut, and her number is 4896. See, she does carpentry and has worked with wood for years. “Rip” is how you divide a piece of plywood lengthwise, and “cut” is going across it. The number? Well, a standard piece of plywood is 48-by-96 inches.

Daisy is “Day Tripster,” and her number is, wait for it, 33 1/3. Daisy, you see, is a big fan of the Beatles.