Lafitte's Ladies: A Roller Derby Story
By Nikki Sue Alston
A Brief Introduction
I honestly did not know what to expect before meeting Lake Charles’s Lafitte’s Ladies. Being a roller derby virgin, I had no clue about any of the logistics of the sport. I thought it was just a bunch of women with displaced anger. Having had the opportunity to meet these women was truly an eye opener, both about the sport and the players. Watching these women gear up for practice I could tell that this was more than just a team to them, they’re a family. I was able to sit on the bench during one of their practices and talk to a few of the women. First off, let me say that these ladies come from all walks of life. There were teachers, bartenders, paramedics, and office staff all ranging from girly-girls to tomboys. To sit with each of them and hear about the common denominator between them all was interesting to say the least.
It's More Than Beating the Crap out of Each Other
A nationally known roller derby coach and skater, Bonnie Stroir, said “Most seem to find Roller Derby in transitional periods… We ruin our bodies to save our souls, and for some reason that makes perfect sense”. One of the first ladies I got the opportunity to speak with was Boomstick. She was a trip, so inviting, bubbly, and sweet but on the track she is a machine. Boomstick explained she had always been interested in Derby growing up but moved around a lot so she was never able to join a team until a few years ago when tragedy tore her family apart. She felt lost, just going through the motions of daily life. Boomstick gives the credit of finding herself, but more importantly an outlet, to Roller Derby. Her story is like many of the other girls on the team, Roller Derby is their therapy. “We don’t just hit the floor and beat the crap out of each other, there’s so much more to it. We find every opportunity we can to get behind other non-profit’s such as hosting the Ladies of States on Skates as well as community events”, Sugarland, one of the newer members, said. The girls explained that Roller Derby has gotten a bad rap and people think the teams are made up of a bunch of pissed off alcoholics, which is far from the truth. Most of these girls do have tattoos, piercings, dyed hair, or a mixture of the three, giving off the total tough girl vibe. These ladies were some of the most open minded and welcoming people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in my short time on this earth, but I would never want to tick one of them off. During the practice, they went over strategy, skating technique, blocking, and different maneuvers in preparation for the following Saturday’s bout (that’s what a match is called).
They Put Their Skates On Just Like Us
Watching my first bout, they each reminded me of Athena, goddess of wisdom, courage, strategic war, strength, and strategy. As they flew by the crowd, weaving in and out of each other, taking hit after hit, you could see the passion and skill in their skating. Yea they may come off a bit bold, crass, and show a little ass, but that’s the nature of the beast. On the track these women are literally “kicking butt and taking names” and ask no forgiveness. Off the track, they are regular people like you and I (well almost). Roller Derby isn’t a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. The skates alone cost $250 at a minimum and the proper gear at least $150. At every bout they sell t-shirts and raffle off various items for $5 a ticket as a fundraiser to help them with traveling expenses throughout the semester. The ladies pay dues each month which help to pay the costs of renting a rink out one night per week, but without the communities support at the bouts it can be pretty difficult to make ends meet. I encourage everyone to go cheer on our Lafitte’s Ladies at their next bout, if not to watch these empowering women dominate than because they consistently strive for ways to give back and support our community.
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