Women, Roller Derby, and Booze: Your Perfect Saturday Night

The Twin City Knockers are badasses.

 (I can totes say “badasses,” because it’s Heliopolis. Badass, right?!)

The knockers are Shreveport-Bossier’s one and only women’s flat-track roller derby team.

Let me repeat: #Dreamport has a women’s flat-track roller derby team! Whaaaaat?

They are opening their seventh season tomorrow, February 18th, at the Bossier Civic Center. And there’s alcohol, people!

I attended a recent practice to rudely interrupt their session and get to know some of the women. I had definitely heard of the Twin City Knockers before, but unfortunately I had never attended a game (or practice).

When a previously uneducated person like me thinks roller derby, she might feel intimidated – I mean, roller derby? Obviously I’m about to walk into a room full of towering women with steely glances judging me for my non-Olympian-level lack of athleticism, which I’m sure would be apparent even through the mundane task of walking.

But, nope. What I happened upon was a room full of smiles; women who, just like me, have a gazillion and one things going on, but find time to skate and play and welcome any newbie in sight.

Kim Fuller, aka Princess Sleia, is in her fourth season with the team. (Members are dubbed with their official skater name once they’ve been in the derby fold for awhile.) “It’s a helluva workout, and it’s fun!” she notes, “and this community of women is so supportive.” It’s a line I hear again and again as I talk with more of the team members.

“I can go anywhere in the state, or even country, and connect with a roller derby player, whether I need a recommendation, or even a place to crash,” she continues. “It’s a huge network of women looking out for each other.”

Oh, I do love me some girl power.

The Twin City Knockers are currently in their apprentice ship with WIFTA , the international league. They travel to Shreveport, Monroe, Alexandria, Longview, and Texarkana among others and have games here at home. They are are a non-profit, 501c charity. Any money they make from ticket sales and monthly dues goes directly to pay rent at the Highland Center, where they practice.

So, what exactly happens during a game?

“A playing team is made up of 4 blockers and 1 jammer each. It is extremely physical, with flying jumps and having to tackle your opponent, but,” Fuller laughs, “there’s no hair pulling!”

The original Twin City Knockers team, circa 2009
Amanda Barrett, or Fuds, started in 2009. This is her seventh season – she’s basically been with the team “since the beginning. It’s gone through many evolutions,” she notes, “since we are constantly going through changes – whether someone is injured, or pregnant, or has other obligations.” She notes this year is pretty comparable to other years, with a fair amount of the team representing new blood.

Nicole Brice – name yet to be designated – is one of those newbies. She heard about the derby team through word of mouth. Her sentiments echo many of her teammates, who are mothers, wives, and women with demanding schedules controlled by a constant juggling act: “This is something I do for me and no one else,” she states, before continuing half-jokingly: “I mean, I deal with a toddler all day. I have a lot of pent up aggression!” She goes on to relay how welcoming the team has been despite her not really having known any of them, which is another one of the reasons she keeps coming back.

Amanda Duncil, aka Stranger Danger, is one of this year’s co-captains and is in her third season with the group. She actually heard about it the semi old-fashioned way – through a radio advertisement. What keeps her coming back? “It’s really challenging. I look at how effortless these women are with their skills and think – I want to be able to do that. It’s also fun and cathartic!”

By the way, even though any woman is welcome to come join the practices, getting in the game rink is a little trickier. To play, skaters have to pass a minimum skills test, which includes being able to do 27 laps in 5 minutes. Ashley Drew, aka Smashley Drewblood, is the current president of the team. “Pretty much everyone on the team has a job [on or off the rink]…my big goal was getting alcohol served at our bouts this year!”

In fact most of the women interviewed responded in kind when I asked, “So why should someone come watch your season opener?”

“Because we finally have alcohol this year!”

And even though libations are my fave, I would wager the answer is much bigger than that. I left feeling very inspired by these women. Every week, regardless of their familial or career or personal obligations, they come to practice, suit up, and skate. They devote a small percentage of their times to themselves and to something bigger than themselves – a community of women and athleticism that is self-supporting and in the constant pursuit of elevating their badassery. (I keep trying to use a different word, but nothing feels as accurate!)

Plus, WE HAVE A ROLLER DERBY TEAM IN THE SBC, y’all! Something unconventional, fun, inclusive, and dedicated to the empowerment of women?!

Yes, please! Go go gadget community support!

The Twin City Knockers take on Assassination City at the Bossier Civic Center on Saturday, February 18. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. And, most importantly – #ThereWillBeBooze!

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