Local News

Skate team forming in Sebring

SEBRING - Lisa Everhart is looking for a few good pivots, jammers and blockers. About 20, actually, and they don't even have to know how to skate.

"I can teach them," said Everhart, 37, who recently moved to Sebring.

Back in Boone, N.C., Everhart was better known as Poison Cupcake, a blocker for the Appalachian Rollergirls. It's one of the 192 teams in Women's Flat Track Derby Association with names like the Boulder County Bombers, Slaughter County Roller Vixens and Pueblo Derby Devil Dollz.

Everhart wants to add number 193.

"We have a lot of people who are interested," said Everhart. The first recruit was her big sister.

"It's great exercise," said Amy Everhart, 38, a bookstore clerk who is learning how to skate. "I've lost 20 pounds. I'm new to the area, too, so I'm meeting new people."

Although players have menacing monikers like Buster Skull, Mad Mel Arena, Bloody Mary and Luna Negra (Black Moon), don't get the wrong idea about roller derby, Lisa Everhart said. "I call myself Poison Cupcake, but you can skate under your own name.

Hollywood depicts 4-wheeled chaos in "Blood on the Flat Track," "Unholy Rollers," "Kansas City Bomber" with Raquel Welch and the latest, "Whip It" with Ellen Page and Drew Barrymore.

"When people hear 'roller derby,' they think we're a bunch of tattooed criminals," Lisa Everhart said. "That's just not true. You're not going to see fights on the track; you'll get expelled for that. You can't cuss the refs; they'll throw you out of the stadium. You're not going to see elbowing.

"All kinds of people make good players," Everhart said. "I know lawyers and doctors and sheriffs, a 50-year-old housewife, some of the girls have 9-to-5 jobs. I don't care if you're a transgender man living as a woman. They're all welcome on my team."

There are helpful skills though, Everhart said. Ex-hockey players are already familiar with the footwork. However, determination may be the most important quality. Although she's not aggressive, she often finds "I'm standing when somebody else is on the ground."

A high-school cheerleader, Everhart now cleans houses and conducts estate sales, although her lifetime job is stay-at-home mom for a profoundly disabled son. Although Amy played a little softball, neither sister considers herself an athlete.

"I didn't get involved in any sport that involved balls flying at my head. I've been doing this for four years now; I started doing it to get out of the house," said Everhart. "It's life changing if you allow it to be, physically and mentally. It makes you a better person."

Amy is now practicing three times a week on Lisa's concrete driveway. Because concrete is abrasive and unforgiving, they wear helmets, mouth guards, elbow pads and knee pads. By the way, roller derby queens don't in-line, they roll on quads - two wheels under the toes, two on the heels.

They need a practice facility too. "Ideally, 7,000 to 9,000 square feet, preferably a concrete or wood floor," Everhart said. A doubles tennis court measures 2,800 square feet, a National Basketball Association court is 4,700 square feet.

For a WFTDA league bout, though, "We need something much bigger, like an airplane hangar." As its name states, there's no need for a banked track.

Local officials are needed, both skaters and non-skaters.

"We will also be looking for sponsors. They don't have to donate money, it can be bottled water, baked goods, printing. And we'll sell their names on our bout shorts. We can't have logos on our jerseys, so we sell our butts," she grinned.

As an Appalachian Rollergirl, Everhart raised funds for others. The Gainesville Roller Rebels, for instance, sponsored and work with the "Little Rebels," a little sister chapter who learn how to roller skate after school.

"This is a non-profit, and we help other people who are non-profits. Sometimes, they just want us to show up," Everhart said.

"It's a chance to get out of the house and do something different," Amy Everhart said.

More info: www.wftda.com has information about skaters, leagues, rules and equipment. www.wftda.tv shows roller derby video.

Contact Lisa Everhart at 828-964-3021, or email poisoncupcake314@gmail.com



Modern roller derby was invented in the mid-1930s when, after seeing collisions and crashes as skaters tried to pass each other in a derby marathon, sportswriter Damon Runyon encouraged promoter Leo Seltzer to maximize physical contact: exaggerating elbowing and falls, and whipping and slamming each other into the track's outer rail. Fans loved it.

Source: Wikpedia