Georgia State’s roller derby team defies social standards

Roller derby at Georgia State is a sport that is female and non-binary led. The sport is aggressive in all the right ways, allowing women to break out of society’s standards. Photo courtesy of GSU Roller Derby

Atlanta is an all-inclusive and diverse city filled with students from different backgrounds. Georgia State’s Roller Derby team is no exception to this Atlanta ideology, as the team opens its arms to all female and non-binary students. 

Georgia State’s roller skating team began around 2016. Since then, its team members have been growing their skills and working towards gaining and training new members. Although the group is new, they are working on being better than the competition.

Roller derby is a sport primarily centered on women. This is a rare occurrence in today’s male-oriented society, deeming it as profoundly empowering. 

Photo courtesy of GSU Roller Derby

Roller derby is a high contact sport, meaning players constantly collide with one another. The sport encourages women to break free of societal standards and be tough, rough and aggressive to succeed. 

While most sports usually require a specific body type to play, roller derby is more flexible. Roller people do not have to look at a particular way to play or fit a particular body type to participate. 

Charde Franklin, Georgia State junior and member of the Georgia State roller derby team, says that the team is an inclusive and diverse group with a powerful bond. Apart from practices, the team would constantly meet up and hang out with one another. 

“We would work on techniques and plays, but we would also spend a lot of time hanging out and getting to know each other,” Franklin said. “We really formed a nice team bond.”

Franklin joined the team her freshman year because she felt a personal connection with skating. Franklin skated with her dad from a young age and grew up participating in many activities involving skating. 

“I started to learn about roller derby, and I thought this was something I could do,” Franklin said. “When I got to Georgia State, I knew this was the group I wanted to be a part of. I loved what they stood for and what they supported, and I fell in love with the atmosphere.”

The Georgia State roller team stands for womanhood, inclusivity and empowerment. Society often tells women that femininity is a soft trait and that women must look, dress and act a certain way. In roller derby, these stereotypes are nonexistent. 

“I can be strong, and I can push people around,” Franklin said. “We get to be aggressive, which for women is usually looked at as a bad thing, and it’s not.”

Since the start of the pandemic, the team members have not met due to safety precautions. According to Franklin, the team plans on starting back up again in the spring semester of 2022. Before then, the team would meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:30 pm to 6 pm, the same rink the Atlanta Roller girls meet. 

Photo courtesy of GSU Roller Derby