Rolling into community and connection with Cape Girardeau Roller Derby
“Girls just wanna play contact sports on roller skates” might be the new “girls just wanna have fun.” Cape Girardeau Roller Derby (CGRD) hosted an unofficial recruitment event at the A. C. Brase Arena Building Feb. 1, where potential new members had the chance to learn roller derby basics. Members of CGRD describe the activity as a perfect combination of stress relief, friendship and community involvement.
According to a Wikepedia article, roller derby games are short and consist of both teams having a jammer, designated by a star helmet, who is surrounded by four other players. The goal of the game is to get the team’s jammer as far around the course as possible to lap the other team. Players usually give themselves creative names, similar to professional wrestling.
Bri DeWitt, a.k.a. Babe Runner, is a SEMO alum and does many things for CGRD: She’s the treasurer, runs their social media, does art design and more.
“I always feel like I’m either selling religion or trying to be at the top of a pyramid scheme because I love it so much and I try to sell it to people,” DeWitt said.
DeWitt joined the team to find more female friends and stayed for the sense of community.
“It’s the most inclusive community I’ve ever come into contact with in Southeast Missouri — we’re open gender, our ages range from kids who are 18 to women in their 50s, which is awesome,” DeWitt said.
DeWitt said there’s a role for every person in roller derby.
“It’s awesome because you can come into Derby and be a really tiny person and play a perfect role. And you can be a woman who is six foot tall and has muscles and you have equal power, because there’s different positions and ways you can be helpful,” DeWitt said.
CGRD is a nonprofit organization, and their games and events raise money for charity. Dewitt says they have raised money for SEMO Pets, Watkins wildlife, Mac’s Mission, Special Olympics and other local organizations.
Raymie Hart, a.k.a. Diana Slama, is the captain of CGRD and has been playing for nearly six years. She’s also a sophomore early childhood education major at SEMO. She said she likes how even during games, the participants all still care about each other.
“You can stand there and you can dance during halftime or make friends with all of them,” Hart said. “We all love each other, even on other teams.”
Jenna Lopez, a junior family studies and child development major, was a first-time attendee.
“I saw the team in the homecoming parade back in October, and I was like, ‘These are the coolest people I’ve ever seen in my life,’” Lopez said.
Lopez said she was excited to be more physically active and to be a part of a team, since she didn’t have much experience with sports, and is looking forward to making new friends.
SEMO alumni Casey Hinkebein, AKA Blue Slay Shoes, who now teaches English as a second language, said she likes Roller Derby as a release from the stress of being a teacher and as an athletic outlet.
Hinkebein describes her biggest takeaway from Roller Derby as an increase in confidence.
“It’s easier and you feel braver when you try something and you fail, because you know you can try it again, and you can get it right. It’s that rush of, ‘I got this, achievement unlocked. What can I do next?’” Hinkebein said.
CGRD is holding a formal boot camp on Feb. 13, and more information can be found on their Facebook page.