I know how hard it is to get young kids out of the house to go somewhere - even quick outings require you to pack enough snacks, diapers, and toys to make you think you’ll be gone for a week. And who wants to wrestle kids in and out of carseats just to find out that your destination isn’t kid-friendly? That’s why I’ve decided to visit Triangle area sites to see if they’re worth your trip. I won’t use a rating system but I’ll try to describe what you’ll see well enough for you to decide if your kids would find it interesting. I’ll also give you the heads up on bathrooms, stroller accessibility and any other SNAFUs I encounter.


Carolina Rollergirls at Dorton Arena - Raleigh

Carolina Rollergirls Website

         My only previous experience with roller derby was seeing the movie Whip It but if I hadn't seen the movie I probably wouldn't have done a search for an NC roller derby team. I had been toying with the idea of taking my kids to one of these events to see how family friendly it was, but then I got one of those Amazon local deals to see the Nov. 19th doubleheader charity bout for half price and I took it as a sign. Even without the discount my kids got in for free to this matchup featuring the Trauma Queens vs. the Debutante Brawlers and the Carolina All-Stars vs. the Cape Fear All-Stars from Wilmington.

        The premise of roller derby is pretty simple. The jammer - identified by the star on her helmet - must break through the defensive players to become the lead jammer and the number of times she passes through the pack during a jam - two minutes - equals the number of points she scores for her team. Team members take turns as the jammer and the jammer can call off a jam at any time - usually when she is ahead in points. Roller derby bouts consist of two, half hour periods. All of the finer details of the sport are explained in the program.

       Watching roller derby can be at times relaxing and exciting depending upon the performance of the players. Sometimes it can feel like watching NASCAR, but the campy fun of the costumes, players' names, and the humor of the commentators keeps it interesting. The bout we witnessed was a charity event for the Pretty in Pink Foundation so there was also a bake sale and a silent auction going on. And if all else fails to excite, the promoters are not shy about advertising the beer that's available.

       Roller derby in NC seems to be in its' infancy: the scoreboard is an LCD projection on a pull-down screen; the commentators sit at a rough table with minimal PA equipment; T-shirts are launched into the crowd via overhand throw; the venue itself is not climate controlled; and the crowds that come are small but dedicated. There is a certain charm in seeing a sport at this stage of development. I noticed that everyone we encountered - from the ticket takers to our fellow spectators - was very welcoming. The players themselves even mingle with the crowds after a bout. And as long as you're 18 and not pregnant you can sit on the floor close enough to the track to feel the draft of the passing skaters.

      But is roller derby in NC kid-friendly? Absolutely. My toddler's eyes were glued to the track as soon as we walked in the arena and he quickly learned to clap and cheer when we did. The small crowd and the general admission seating allowed us to find a nice open seating area so both of my kids could get up and move without having to worry about bumping into neighboring spectators. If your kids tend to get antsy you can always bring small toys as a distraction. This bout was a doubleheader so it was a long time to expect our kids to stay and we knew it was time to leave when my toddler launched his stuffed lion track-ward.

The Rollergirls' mascot, Evil Ed

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Sean!

    Our family loves the Carolina Rollergirls, too. I think the lo-fi feel adds to the festive-yet-congenial atmosphere -- it's definitely not the slick kind of media experience you get when you go to a Canes hockey game. But like you, I think that's part of its charm. :)

    I didn't see them when the Rollergirls were still performing at the roller rink, before moving to Dorton Arena. I'm sure Dorton is a big step up from that.

    The last time we were there I let the boys sit up on the cement next to the duct tape outlining the track -- it was definitely exciting, and thankfully we didn't get caught up in a wipeout. (Although considering my own particular sport, I don't think that would phase any of my boys.)

    Nice post!