Rocktown rollers

Hopeful newcomers practice the Shopping Cart drill during tryouts. The Rocktown Rollers practice at Funky’s Skate Center on South Main Street twice a week. Skaters must pass a rigorous series of tests if they want to make the team.


Just off South Main Street, Funky’s Skate Center houses the Rocktown Rollers on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The Rocktown Rollers are more than just a roller derby team, they’re a collection of Harrisonburg locals passionate about roller skating.

“I had been looking for a team sport because I like working out, but I like having other people to work out with,” rookie Wren Snyder said. “I wanted to do something that was physical and I just tried this out and really liked it.”

The newcomers, aka fresh meat, couldn’t just walk in and expect to make the team, however. Tryouts were held to determine whether or not these Rocktown Roller hopefuls could hang with the veterans.

Co-captain Kathleen Macias, aka Smack Mamba, got things started by leading both veteran and rookie skaters in a jog around Funky’s Skate Park to warm up before practice. Later, Macias and co-captain Sarah Blue, who goes by GiggleHertz, taught the rookies several drills throughout the tryout, including one particularly tough one called Shopping Carts.

For the drill, the team stood in a single-file line with their hands on the hips of the person in front of them. Then, the skater in the back of the line had to push the line in front of her without using her toe stops. This rigorous drill helps rookies develop pushing techniques as well as improve their stopping motions.

In order to make the team, the skaters must pass a skills-based test through the Women’s Flat Track Association. The test aims to determine whether the skater can go fast enough to keep the bouts competitive while ensuring the skater plays in a safe manner and doesn’t put herself or others in harm’s way.

Passing the WFTA test “can take anywhere from a month to six, nine months,” Macias said. “We don’t put a time limit on girls. When they come out they can take as long as they want. As long as they keep coming back and are determined, we will accept them and teach them everything they need to know.”

By the end of the night, the skaters were already growing more and more comfortable with each other. With their training complete, the team had 15 minutes left to relax and unwind. Instead, the team chose to play a big game of Infection Tag, where one person began with an “infection” and had to infect others by tagging them until only one person remained. The gym filled with squeals and screeches from near getaways and roller skates skidding on the track.

“I find that it’s nice to have a change of pace and have a group of women that supports you in no matter what you do,” Macias said.

The Rocktown Rollers dedicate their time not only to the sport of roller derby, but also to the community of women that the sport impacts. Along with roller derby, the Rocktown Rollers do community service, such as highway cleanups, around JMU and Harrisonburg and participate in the Shenandoah Valley Pride Parade.

Currently in midseason, the Rocktown Rollergirls will host the Mid-Atlantic Roller Derby on Oct. 1 at Funky’s Skate Center at 4:30 p.m.

Contact Alex Leslie at