“This is the first home bout for your Marietta Derby Darlins,” announcer Rabbit Zielke told the audience of more than 200 at the Cobb Civic Center. “You’re all sharing a very special night with these ladies.”
The Derby Darlins, after playing a few away bouts around the Southeast, returned home to face the Mobile, Ala., based Torpedo Bay Rollergirls as the second game of the “Bombshell Brawl” doubleheader, a game Marietta won 178-90. The Kannapolis Roller Girls and Balsam Mountain Roller Girls, both North Carolina teams, faced off in the first bout, won, oddly enough, by the Roller Girls.
Featuring players like “Amber Graves of Slain” and “Gin and Jukes” the Derby Darlins raced around the Civic Center floor, trying to have their jammer rack up points faster than Torpedo Bay’s, all why trying to avoid being mauled.
“We’re really excited to finally have the chance to show all our local fans what we can do,” said Donna Blitzen, a blocker on the Derby Darlins from Marietta.
The Derby Darlins, the only roller derby team in Cobb, play in an introductory-level league, Blitzen said.
While the team, which started in April 2011, has a minimum age of 18, Blitzen said the majority of the players are between 35 and 40.
“It’s definitely a pretty unique opportunity for women to come and play something very physical, very athletic and you don’t age out of the sport,” she said.
Jammer and power blocker Karen Davis of east Cobb, who goes by “TuTu Intense!,” said she had never played roller derby before, but became interested after she saw a friend post about the sport on Facebook. She checked the Internet in December and found out Marietta was starting a team.
“I sent them an email and got an email back and was on the rink within two days,” TuTu Intense! said. “And we’ve been going full speed ever since.”
Roller derby doesn’t mean just showing up. The women are responsible for setting up the venue and making sure it’s ready for the event. The Derby Darlins won’t play another home bout until the 2013 season.
“This one’s kind of intended to create interest in Marietta and Georgia and, hopefully, get the word out to sponsors and fans for next season,” said TuTu Intense!, who operates an auto parts store with her husband and also works at Home Depot by day.
Marsha Saylor of Griffin, who was in the audience Saturday, remembers watching roller derby with her grandfather when she was a child. On Saturday, she took her own granddaughter, 4-year-old Hope Fugate, to see the same sport.
“It’s just wonderful,” Saylor said. “Everybody’s nice and it’s good family fun.”
Zielke, known as “Miz Rabbit,” got involved when the sport made a comeback in the 1990s after being a roller derby fan in the 1970s. She now does play-by-play in five different leagues.
“I can’t skate, but I can talk about it,” said Miz Rabbit, who is an on-air host at the Chattanooga National Public Radio station.
Part of the sport is giving back to the community, with the Derby Darlins volunteering with organizations like MUST Ministries and the Etowah Valley Humane Society.
“Each league has a charity of their choice,” Miz Rabbit said.
The Derby Darlins pay tribute to their home city in their logo, which features a 1940s-era pinup girl wearing a roller derby helmet and skates while riding on a fighter jet.
“We really wanted to tie in with our local community, and Dobbins and Lockheed have been so important to the community over the years,” Blitzen said.