The Collegian
Monday, April 15, 2024

Rollergirls get physical, raise money for charity

The River City Rollergirls have been attracting fans at the Greater Richmond Convention Center since the beginning of their season this year, and sharing the profits with a Richmond charity.

River City Rollergirls, known as RCR for short, was created in 2006. It is one of 98 roller derby teams ranked in the Women's Flat Track Derby Association. WFTDA is like the NBA but for roller derby, said Jolinda Smithson, who works on promotions for the league.

Points are scored in roller derby when special skaters called jammers, who originally are placed behind the others, advance completely through the pack to the front. It is a sport known for teamwork and physical contact, requiring all women to have a multi-impact helmet, a mouth guard, elbow pads, knee pads and wrist guards.

RCR won two bouts during its last meet on Oct. 23, named "Nightmare on 3rd Street." Skaters within RCR's league are separated into two teams, Poe's Punishers and the Uncivil Warriors. On the track they are known not by their real names, but by aliases like Red, White & Bruise-her and Bash Knuckles.

Women who skate have very diverse backgrounds and education levels, Smithson said. RCR skaters are artists, designers, bartenders, teachers, students, even a lawyer and librarian.

A number of students at Richmond hadn't known what roller derby was when asked. But Maya Vincelli, the assistant director of retail operations at the university, has about a three-and-a-half-year history skating with RCR. She first got involved in roller derby after meeting RCR members at a yard sale to raise money for the league.

Although she said her job at Richmond was stressful and intense, practices allow her a physical and mental outlet. The league wants to show the city they can be tough girls and still have heart; fans support the league incredibly and so they feel duty-bound to support the community in kindness, Vincelli said.

RCR functions as a nonprofit, and sometimes holds special fundraisers for charities. Each year portions of its ticket sales are donated to different charities. This year's recipient is the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. Past charities have included Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN), Ring Dog Rescue and Books on Wheels, among others.

New skaters may join the league after training for three months as "fresh meat." Women 18 and up with no prior experience in skating or roller derby are welcome.

Contact reporter Keon Monroe at

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