Behind the scenes with the Atlanta Rollergirls

On the track they are aggressive, competitive and at times brutal. Off the track they are mothers, teachers and comedians. These women are the Atlanta Rollergirls.

Six days out of the week, the roller girls are practicing and gaining new skills on a practice track in Norcross, Ga.

Why does one join roller derby? Everyone is different and everyone has a different story. Some join because they have a mutual friend, others because of the movie Whip It.

For rollergirl Missy Stocks, it all started from being a competitive inline skater from. age 9 to 15. Since she grew up on roller skates, it was a natural transition for her.

Barbara Tushbant (white helmet) blocks against four members of the opposing team during practice.
Barbara Tushbant (white helmet) blocks against four members of the opposing team during practice.


The drafting process to be a rollergirl is strenuous and takes hard work. It all begins with the tryouts, and after that the rollergirl has to pass four assessments. Once that is accomplished, they are drafted and put into one of four home teams: Apocalypstix, Denim Demons, Sake Tuyas or the Toxic Shocks.

Aside from the home teams, there are also traveling teams: Dirty South Derby Girls (A-Team), Rumble B’s (B-team), and the Jukes of Hazzard. Dirty South Derby Girls are currently ranked tenth in the world.

“People are pretty attached to their home teams. It’s nice to have a group of girls that you can constantly interact with, cheer with and build relationships with,” Stocks said.


Rollergirl Names

After a rollergirl is drafted, traditionally their rollergirl name is decided. It typically shows off their personality or something that relates to them. Thanks to her husband, Feral Brady is Stocks’ rollergirl name.

“The Brady Bunch is a blended family, and she’s a stay at home mom, and I’m a stay at home mom, and I have a blended family; I’m re-married,” Stocks explained.

If the player is having trouble coming up with a name, their teams have no problem helping them out. The polite thing to do is to not take a name that is already taken. Every rollergirl name is registered at, so it is easy to find out if a name is already being used or was used.

“Your name is a very sacred thing. Most people won’t give up their name,” Stocks said.

Tushband stretching to avoid injury.

The Game

The rules of roller derby change every year, but a couple of things stay the same and that is how the game is played.

Each team has five people out on the track, four blockers and one jammer. The jammers are the ones who score points, and are known to be the fastest women on the team. They start out in the back, and their goal is to get through the blockers. When they pass the opposing blockers for the second time, the jammer scores her team a point. Every opposing player passed equals a point.

Jammers are set to be small and fast, while blockers are more muscularly built.

“Rebel, is a blocker. She is incredibly agile, but she has a muscular build, takes up more space,” Stocks said.

“Skully is a jammer. She’s very fast, she’s very small—she’s like a greased pig. She’s very wiggly; It’s impossible to hold her.”



Injuries on the track are commonplace. The Atlanta Rollergirls have to ensure that everyone stays safe and if they do fall, they know what they are doing.

Every month, sponsored team chiropractor Dr. Cohen comes and gives the rollergirls free adjustments. Going to doctors and orthopedics comes with the sport.

“Within the first six months I skated, I broke my wrist and my right shoulder,” Stocks said. “My orthopedist loves me. I’m putting his children through college.”

Being a Rollergirl takes up a lot of time, so being dedicated is almost like a requirement. But though one must be aggressive on the track, they do not have to be aggressive outside of roller derby.

“A lot of women have preconceived notions on what they can and cannot do, and it’s really nice to challenge those notions sometimes,” Stocks explained.

Barbara Tushband (white helmet) blocks against four members of the opposing team.
Barbara Tushband (white helmet) blocks against four members of the opposing team.


Rollergirl Profiles

Katherine Adair

Rollergirl Name: Helga G. Pa-Smack-I

Team: Denim Demons

The movie Whip It is what inspired rollergirl Katherine Adair. After seeing what roller derby was all about, Adair knew she wanted to get involved. When she got home from the movie she started to Google everything roller derby, and the Atlanta Rollergirls popped up.

Known as being a “stereotypical bookworm,” Adair was worried that she would not be athletic enough to join.

“I was a hot mess. Every new skill that I’ve learned, I’ve had to fight to the nail for that.”

When Adair tried out for the first time, she did not make it, but that did not mean she gave up. Going to school at Georgia State, she would commute from Atlanta to Athens in order to practice and get ready for upcoming tryouts.

After her third time trying out, she finally got drafted. This upcoming season will be her second as an Atlanta Rollergirl.

“I love that it’s a really aggressive sport. You can come in and not be athletic and you can work up to it. It’s something you can start as an adult.”

Barbara Tushbant

Rollergirl Name: Elle-Beaux

Team: Sake Tuyas

In 2005, one of Tushbant’s friends came up to her and asked if she had ever tried roller derby. After she replied with a “No dog, I haven’t roller-skated since I was eight,” she immediately said yes to trying it out.

“I got addicted and almost ten years later, and I’m still here.”

Though she works at Georgia State’s Personal Relations Department acting and doing improv, Adair makes time each week for practices.

“I’ll admit it, there are times when I don’t want to go workout, and I don’t want to go to practice, so when that happens I listen to usher.”

She is what they consider a “brick in a wall”—a blocker; her job is to make sure the jammer on the opposing team does not pass the team.

Most people do not believe that Tushbant is a rollergirl because of her personality and the fact that she is a comedian.

“It definitely doesn’t matter how nice you are—if you don’t think you’re built for it, there’s a place for you. Just jump in, have fun and keep working at it.”


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