Sporting sparkles, fishnets, their signature colors of lime green and black, and fierce game faces, the Hard Knox Roller
Girls will play their last game of the season Saturday.
The team has been playing since 2006, but many UT students aren't aware Knoxville has a roller derby team. Older generations might remember the scripted, WWE-like version of roller derby on television in the 1960s, but students are more likely to recall the 2009 movie "Whip It." The reality of the Hard Knox Roller Girls is much closer to that of the latter.
"The most common misconception is that roller derby is fake or staged, like wrestling," Jessica Arnold, Hard Knox teammate, said. "The roller derby of the 60s was staged and there were many fights and lots of injuries. The roller derby of today is a real sport played by real athletes who train hard several days per week and work hard to perfect their skills."
The full contact sport is played on a flat rink with up to five players for each jam. There's one pivot, one jammer and three blockers. The pivot serves as the leader of her teammates in the jam and wears a helmet cover with a stripe on it. The jammer's goal is to pass the opposing players and score points. The blockers' objective is to help their jammer pass through, while blocking the other team's jammer.
Unlike the 60s portrayal, this game has definitive rules, with referees to keep watch and hand out penalties for misconduct.
"They don't see everything," Arnold said," and many illegal hits are made, but for the most part, HKRG strives to play a clean game and we are known for it."
The team has a loyal group of diverse fans, ranging from toddlers to seniors.
"We do lots of fan interaction, including a contest for the best-dressed fan in varying age groups, skaters hanging out in the crowds talking about derby and answering questions, and a t-shirt cannon which was added this year and is very popular," Arnold said.
The players are just as diverse as their fans, ranging from stay-at-home moms, to college students, to professionals.
"We are so different, yet we share the same love of roller derby," she said.
The team will play their last game of 2012 on Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Knoxville Coliseum. Doors open at 5 p.m. The Brawlers vs Blue Ridge French Broads game starts at 6 p.m. The Allstars vs Blue Ridge Allstars game starts at 8 p.m. Adult tickets are $10 in advance and $12 dollars at the door. Children's tickets cost $8 for ages 6-12 and are free for ages 5 and under.
The featured charity of the night is CAC Beardsley Community Farm.
For the full experience, fans recommend the suicide seating beside the rink.
"I've been to see the HKRGs a few times, sometimes sitting in the stands, sometimes sitting in the suicide seats," Logan Kelly, a fan of HKRG, said. "The suicide seats are the best seats in the house. You just hope a skater doesn't fall onto you!"
Tickets for Saturday's games can be purchased at hardknoxrollergirls.com.