Skintight pink outfits, short shorts and fishnet stockings contrasted with the intensity of the athleticism shown in the Molly Morbids’ debut battle. It unveiled just how rough roller derby can be.
One of three teams in the Happy Valley Derby Darlins roller derby league, the Molly Morbids team is comprised of the best roller derby girls in Utah County. Designated as the league’s travel team, the Molly Morbids won its debut match Saturday, March 17, against the Nevada East Roller Girls, with a final score of 183-87.
Roller derby match-ups consist of two teams of five skaters forming a “pack” while a designated “jammer” from each team tries to get past the blockers to lap the members of the opposing team. The jammer earns points for their team each time they lap a member of the other team. A scoring play, which can last a maximum of two minutes, is called a “jam.”
The floor of the UCCU Events Center was stripped down to the bare concrete, with blue tape marking the concentric ovals where the pack of skaters blocked, pushed and pulled one another as they skated their way counterclockwise around the arena for two 30-minute periods.
“Our league consists of 45 girls. We have the whole spectrum,” said Charlotte Malan, a high scoring jammer for the Molly Morbids on Saturday who is known by her derby alias Bloody 2 Shoes.
“We have single people, moms, people from 18 to 45 of all sizes and athletic abilities, people that have played derby before and people that haven’t,” Malan said.
The crowd was equally diverse Saturday, with close to 500 in attendance. Regardless of their clearly different backgrounds, the attendants erupted in cheers and whistles almost every time a Morbids jammer broke free from the pack for a jam.
Natalie Swenson, aka Raggedy Slamm, is the president of the HVDD league, which she founded in January 2011. Malan, secretary and treasurer for the league, expressed the difficulties of overcoming the stigma of derby girl stereotypes while helping Swenson establish the league in a bastion of conservatism like Utah County.
“Trying to find a good balance between the derby culture and Utah county was one of the challenges of getting [the league] going and being able to find that line between family friendly and still appealing to the more edgy derby crowd,” Malan said.
The Darlins are overcoming the challenges, though, on a personal as well as professional level. Malan’s parents were skeptical of the roller derby scene at first, but after Malan and two of her sisters became involved, and her parents came to one of the events, they were hooked. Malan’s mom and dad now cheer for their daughters at each bout from the front row.
As for larger community reception of the renowned bad-girl image of roller derby, Malan said that it is only a matter of time. The sole sponsor supporting the league so far is the Deer Hunter Pub in Spanish Fork, but hopes are high for more support in the future.
“We constantly hold fund raisers so we can put on events to get the fans we need so we can continue growing and keep our sponsorships and our skills growing,” Malan said.
The league practices three times a week at the former Food-4-Less building in Spanish Fork, nicknamed “The Hive,” and rents separate venues for larger events. The league competes every other week, trading off home team scrimmages and the Morbids taking on an outside team once each month.
The sport itself is tough, Malan said, with bruises and cuts common occurrences in both practices and competitions. The derby girls hold these marks in high esteem, though, wearing them as badges of honor.
“I think it shows that you took something hard and you got through it and you are standing stronger. Especially if you’re the winner,” Malan said, grinning.
The league continually recruits new skaters, dubbed “fresh meat,” and puts them through a tried and tested 12-week training course before they can participate in bouts.
Malan said the league will achieve the status of an apprentice league from the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association next month, and eventually hopes to become an officially sanctioned team to participate in nationally ranked competitions.
By Jeff Jacobsen
Online Content Manager
Photos Courtesy of Ron Horton
A complete collection of photos from the bout can be found on Horton’s Facebook page.