Don’t let the skirts and makeup fool you — these girls are all tough commitment and gritty hard work.

This past Sunday’s bout of Harrisonburg’s own Rocktown Rollers versus Washington D.C.’s Capitol Offenders was not one to miss, as the Rollers tromped the city dwellers in an astounding 208 to 112 at Funky’s Skate Center in Harrisonburg.

This match is the eighth the Rollers have participated in within the 2013 season; their next bout will be Oct. 5 at Funky’s Skate Center against Greenbrier Roller Vixens, heeding from Greenbrier Valley in West Virginia.

The still somewhat underground sport has been surfacing in pop culture throughout the years, beginning with the 2009 movie “Whip It.” As Lyndsey Martin, captain of the Rocktown Rollers and better known as “Rosie the Retaliator” confessed, “The thing that turned me on to derby was seeing ‘Whip It.’”

Roller derby is a sport with a form all its own. The sport brings challenges both mentally and physically as the players attempt to block the opposite team’s “jammer” (you can tell which player the jammer is from the star on her helmet) from getting through the pack of both their own team and the opposite’s; or, they must defend their own jammer so that she may pass through the pack. The more members of the opposite team the jammer passes, the more points awarded to that jammer’s team.

“In roller derby, you’re playing both defense and offense at the same time,” Revenga d’Nerd, a referee at the match and a past member of the Rocktown Rollers, said. “In this game, timing is everything. You have to be able to switch between the two quickly or do both at the same time; maybe that’s why it’s a woman’s sport, because women are good at multitasking.”

The game offers emotional support in addition to the mental and physical growth the game brings. The team, which has been around for six years now, opens a new world of opportunity and empowerment for women.

“A lot of us grew up playing sports or grew up wishing to play sports when we were younger,” coach Tanisha MacAdam, also known as player “Afro-Die-T,” said. “As we got older, it became harder to find a way to be active in a team setting. Roller derby is a fabulous way for adults to come together to find the camaraderie that comes with being a part of a team.”

The roller derby community is one that is growing daily and is interconnected. At the beginning of the match, each opposing team cheered wholeheartedly for the other and many of the Rollers greeted the Offenders before the game. Sportsmanship and a sense of friendly competition are ripe in the sport.

“Derby is spread out all over the place; it’s a community,” referee Craig Hertzler said. “If I went to the West Coast or France, there would be some derby league I could participate in.”

Above all else, however, is the sense of connection within the roller derby team itself.

“For me and a couple of other guys here who have wives or girlfriends on the team, they call a lot of them derby widows; they say ‘I lost my girlfriend/wife to derby,’” Larry Ritchie, a fan of the Rocktown Rollers, said. “It’s one big dysfunctional family. It’s a really good outlet.”

Interested in rockin’ and rollin’ with the Rocktown Rollers? MacAdam said that there is always room in the family. “Anyone who wants to put on skates and try it, we have an open door policy — we turn no one away. It’s a sisterhood. We’ll take you in.”

Contact Joanna Morelli at