“The Jammer gets all the glamour,” I was told while tailgating before my first Roller Derby experience.
I had read about the Cincinnati Roller Girls and admired their sport and grassroots marketing efforts from afar, but had never attended a bout–not a match or game.
From a fan experience, I have to go all out and give them an “A.” I rarely lavish such praise but this was a terrific night of amateur sport for me.
We arrived early to tailgate in the lot next to the historic Cincinnati Gardens where there were already about 200 people grilling, chatting and playing cornhole. Our group included three carloads–eight people.
We had purchased our tickets in advance through their web site and picked them up at will call. General admission seats are $10 and floor seats are $15 (I recommend the floor seats but there is not a bad seat in the house.)
As we arrived, we were greeted by an actual player, a Cincinnati Roller Girl–Panterrorize, #41 in your program. (Imagine Calvin Borel handing you a program as you entered Churchill Downs?) It was cool! On skates, she zoomed over to us and handed us a program for the evening, titled “Momma Said Knock You Out!”
We chatted about it being my first time, she explained the evening, some of the rules and told me to enjoy a $1 PBR. All good advice except for the latter.
They were two bouts on the card for the evening: The Silent Lambs and the Black Sheep–the two Cincinnati teams were taking on the Mad Rollin’ Dolls from Madison, WI (get it?). And the games began.
I quickly understood why the Jammer gets all of the glamour as she is the scorer, the powerful running back or the clean-up batter. I am still not sure about the scoring and how points are awarded but it didn’t really matter.
These ladies clearly have fun, engage fans and are athletes! Many of the girls have mini fan groups in the stands who wear colorful and creative tees and bang on their cowbells during the action. Th player introductions rival those from the old United Center days with MJ, well kinda.
Oh, I almost forgot one of the best parts of the evening–I got a 15 minute chair massage while the bout was being played! And it was free.
Okay, they lost both bouts and I am sure the players are analyzing what they could have done better on the rink. But they are winning the hearts and time of local fans.
My only suggestion is to utlize more social media to promote the team and players. Twitter is actively used but the web site wasn’t updated as I wrote this the next morning.
I would also like to see some live streaming action on USTREAM of the first few minutes (let’s not give away the entertainment, but offer a little tease.)
I would also highly recommend this sport as a sponsor opportunity to companies trying to reach a niche audience. The players are accessible, the sport is fun and affordable.
The next bout is May 30 against the Grand Raggidy Roller Girls. Get your floor seats and get their early for $1 PBR from 6-7:30 p.m.!