Four of the best roller derby teams in the world will converge on the Austin Convention Center this weekend, and the hometown sternum-crackers, The Texecutioners, look to take the coveted Star of Texas Bowl (STB).
The three other teams in contention for the STB are Gotham Girls Roller Derby from New York City, NY, Windy City Rollers from Chicago, IL and the Bay Area Derby Girls from San Francisco, CA.
With roller derby growing in popularity every year — it was one of eight sports under consideration for the 2020 Olympics — this round-robin tournament is sure to be one of the biggest events in Austin roller derby history.
Three of the four teams are ranked No. 1 in their region by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), with the exception being the Bay Area Derby Girls who are ranked sixth in the West division.
The biggest barrier to a Texecutioners victory is undoubtedly the Gotham Girls. The NYC-based all-star club went undefeated in competition last year and ended the season with the top overall ranking, while the Texecutioners finished with the number three ranking.
According to their website, this will be the toughest weekend of competition the Texecutioners have ever faced in the regular season, and they need your support as they remind the world: Don't Mess With Texas. These are the women who invented the sport and have remained competitive at the highest level, both locally and internationally, ever since.
Credited with the revival of the sport in 2003, the Texas Rollergirls team is comprised of a four-team league (Hell Marys, Hotrod Honeys, Honky Tonk Heartbreakers and Hustlers) with the Texecutioners serving as the all-star team for the flat track derby league.
The game comes with a significant amount of pageantry, but also a serious amount of physicality. With nicknames like Olivia Shootin’ John, Sinnerfold and Vicious Van GoGo (my personal favorites), these women deliver harder hits than the Texas Tech defense did last year (literally).
Roller Derby is taken seriously not only by the fierce competitors, but also by the diehard fan base that flood the Convention Center for every match. Injuries are common and often leave players with broken bones and joint injuries, which just adds to the high drama and bad-assery of this contact sport.
The rules of Roller Derby are relatively simple, and for the visual learner, Texas Rollergirls has a very informative video on their website entitled “Derby 101.” You can also check out the 2009 film Whip It, starring Ellen Page and Drew Barrymore (who also directed the film), about a roller derby league in Austin that explains the rules of the game in detail as well.
For the derby virgin skeptical who wonders if this is a serious sport or not, go this weekend and find out for yourself. You'll see the best girls in the country battling it out on the track, and you'll quickly realize there's only one answer to your question: Hells yeah.
The Star of Texas Bowl takes place Saturday, July 21 from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, July 22 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 per day or $25 for both days and are available through their website.