When Caitlin Carpenter attends a Soul City Sirens’ roller derby match, the Westside High School freshman isn’t there just to cheer on her godmother, Courtney Cooper.
“At every bout, I get to learn something. I’m picking up new ideas,” said Carpenter, a member of the Augusta Junior Roller Derby team, for girls between the ages of 10 and 17.
The junior derby team is still in its infancy. One of the members of the Soul City Sirens had an idea for an eight-week junior derby boot camp last summer. After a second successful eight-week camp in the fall, the Sirens’ board voted to create a team for the girls.
“We basically want to encourage roller derby,” said Jessica “Instakiable” Thompson, who founded the Soul City Sirens in 2007 and helps train the junior team. “We want to help them so they are ready to join a team when they become adults.”
Many of the roller derby teams the Sirens play have junior teams, so there is the opportunity for the junior teams to scrimmage. Thompson said the Augusta junior team had the chance to scrimmage during a home match in February against the Columbia QuadSquad Mini-Roller Derby team.
Lauren Ivey is one of the oldest members of the junior squad.
“I saw the movie Whip It and I wanted to play,” said Ivey, a rising senior at Thomson High School.
Whip It is a 2009 film about a teenager who joins a roller derby team.
Ivey is honing her skills and biding her time until she turns 18 and can join the Sirens.
There are about 13 girls who are part of the squad. The rules for junior derby are similar to those of regular derby; however, the junior girls are not allowed to block their opponents in the same way the adults do.
“They have to lean in to block,” said Thompson, whereas adult roller derby players can use their shoulders and hips to “hit” or push into their opponents. The use of forearms and elbows is illegal.
Olivia Crisostomo, a rising freshman at John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School, likes the contact of the sport.
“There’s a lot of pushing. I do like pushing people,” she said.
She said she has tried to recruit some of her friends for the team, but they always ask about the possibility of getting hurt.
“I tell them about the gear,” she said about the elbow and knee pads, helmets and mouth piece they wear when playing.
Ivey, however, isn’t afraid of bumps, bruises or worse she might receive.
“I think if I broke something I would come back. I like it that much,” she said.
The junior team is still searching for its own name and more members. Recruitment for more roller derby team members will be at the Sirens’ next bout at 6:30 p.m. June 10 at the Red Wing Rollerway on Washington Road. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10 in advance and $15 at the door.
Thompson said there aren’t many prerequisites in joining the junior team.
“It is better when they show up with more than just basic skating skills. If they don’t even know how to skate, they are behind the learning curve,” she said.