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Unholy Rollers

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What does it take to cut the mustard in roller derby? First, you need to be able to skate your butt off. Next, you need a really killer nickname.

Aurora Thunder has all that. She's psyched for the July 27 matchup between the Chapel Thrillers and the Raleigh Ruckus at Durham's Wheels Fun Park. The self-described stay-at-home mom plays for the Carolina All-Stars, one of five teams in the nonprofit Carolina Rollergirls league, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this month.

Though she describes the bouts as family-friendly, she admits that they get pretty competitive. "We keep it clean because many of us are mothers, but there are definitely times when it's tough," Thunder rumbles. "You get a lot of hormones flying around."

The Carolina Rollergirls at Dorton Arena - PHOTO BY ARIANNA HOFFMANN
  • Photo by Arianna Hoffmann
  • The Carolina Rollergirls at Dorton Arena

The Rollergirls skate in from all walks of life. They are insurance adjusters, mathematicians, artists, graphic designers, scientists and librarians. But on the track, they become Mae B. Brawlin, E. Smackulotta, Scaristotle, Shae D. Character, Erna Beatin and Trudy Struction. All play hard while taking on the role of ambassadors for the pastime.

Roller derby is a full-contact sport. Teams field five skaters each on an oval-shaped track. One skater is a designated scorer (a "jammer"). In two-minute "jams," the jammers try to lap the other team while their teammates (the "blockers") slow down the competition. Points are awarded to the winners of each jam. Whichever team is ahead after two 30-minute halves wins the bout.

The Rollergirls compete on an international level—Thunder's All-Stars just tussled with the Royal Windsor Rollergirls from England—but there's plenty of local action too. The Chapel Thrillers take on the Raleigh Ruckus on Sunday, July 27 at 6 p.m. at Wheels. The league also holds open practices at Jellybeans in Raleigh every Wednesday. Bring your skates and your bad-ass nom de roller-guerre to give it a shot.

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