Roller derby team keeps OC competition alive

Roller Girls by Greg H

Laces are tied, and helmets are strapped. Knee pads and elbow pads are on. For most, these would be your typical, recreational sports gear.

But, for the Bayou Outlaw Rollergirls, they might as well be armor.

The game is fast, and the competition is intense, but these ladies are prepared.

“We do a lot of endurance drills in practice,” Julie Foskey, team captain, said. “One night of practice a week is dedicated just to those endurance drills. Our second night is more involved with game strategy and scrimmaging.”

The game is based on formation roller skating around an oval track by two teams. Points are scored when the designated scoring player, or jammer, of a given team laps members of the opposing team, meaning that offense and defense typically occur simultaneously.

“Years ago, there was a lot more acting involved when you would see matches on TV,” Foskey said. “But, in real competition, none of the over-top-stuff is allowed. There is no fighting. You cannot even use elbows. It is strictly a speed-skate competition.”

The Bayou Outlaw Rollergirls coach, Charlie Tumlinson, said that he came into the coaching aspect of the sport without any knowledge of the game whatsoever.

“I didn’t have a clue,” Tumlinson said with a chuckle. “My wife, Jenn, is on the team so I kind of just got pulled into it. The only coaching I had done was with my son’s baseball team.”
But, Tumlinson said that watching the sport made him realize that it is just like any other form of competition.

“Just like in football, where you have certain plays and drills you do to be able to run those plays, roller derby has that too,” he said. “It has certain scenarios and drills that have to be run just like any other sport. So, my coaching is like any other coach — I run them through the drills and prepare them for the games.

“It is good to have some form of organized chaos,” he added with a laugh.

Tumlinson said that watching the game since he began coaching the Bayou Outlaw Rollergirls has taught him more about the sport.

“As you watch, you learn more about strategy and your knowledge of the sport evolves,” he said.

The team, a member of the Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Association, both practices and plays its home games at Spinnin’ Wheels roller rink in north Orange. And, it is not a strange sight on game and practice nights to see quite a few children in attendance.

“We are very family oriented,” Foskey said. “Everyone here has a lot going on, family-wise or other wise, and has a lot on their plates. We range in age from 18 to 43 on this team and come from all areas of the Golden Triangle, so there are a lot of different things going on in everyone’s lives.”

There is also a lot going on to keep the team, which just celebrated its first year of existence this past June, operational.

“We’ve held fundraisers to pay for the cost of using the rink, travel to away games, our scoreboard and so forth,” she said. “Since we are non-profit, businesses can donate to us and use it as a write off. We mostly advertise just by word of mouth, newspaper coverage and we have put signs up along roads around the area.”

Foskey said that some have joined the team already knowing the rules and some have come that don’t even know how to skate, but are intrigued by the sport.

“We have about 33 members on the team currently, including inactive members,” Foskey said. “We have to have about 14 to play a game, and each team has to have five on the floor at a time.”

Foskey said that she helped start the Bayou Outlaw Rollergirls after going to a few practices with a team in Vidor that never could get going and fell apart.

“I visited a friend in San Antonio and she was a player on a team there,” she said. “I didn’t even know that she played.”

After a team was started in Beaumont, the Spindletop Rollergirls, Foskey wanted to get a team started in Orange.

“I played with them for a while and we still help out when they need players sometimes,” she said.

The Bayou Outlaw Rollergirls’ next game is on the road Baton Rouge this Saturday at against the Capitol Defenders. For more information, you can go to www.bayououtlawrollergirls.com online for schedules, recruiting and sponsor information.