Rollergirls of GSU: The underdogs you have yet to hear about

The Rollergirls of GSU stand out among Georgia State’s athletics as they continue to build a presence on campus. Photos courtesy of Rollergirls

Community, acceptance and women’s empowerment are all core values that perfectly encapsulate what the Rollergirls of Georgia State University truly represent and stand for in a way that makes them one of the more unique groups on campus.

The team is relatively unknown to most students around campus, and that comes as a result of being fairly new since it was not officially chartered until fall 2018 by players Alexis Robinson and Ruby Vaughn, who go by “Chip” and “Lucky Harms,” respectively. The two previously played together and shared a common interest in forming a team at Georgia State that could better adapt to students’ schedules.

The process has not been an easy one, as finding new recruits can be a bit of a challenge.

“The biggest difficulty is that it is an alternative sport that is not well known,” Chip said. “And as a result, it’s difficult to convince students to join because of fees and expenses to practice and play in our facility.”

These struggles have definitely been a work in progress to solve, according to co-captain Olivia Khuri, who goes by “Wednesday.”

“We put up flyers around campus all year, put out information about interest meetings and events we have on campus,” Wednesday said. “We also try to table on campus when we can, and I also try to share with as many people as I can.” 

While the recruitment process will need time, the early struggles to find new players has not set the team back when it comes down to gameplay and spreading awareness for the sport on the collegiate level. 

These significant strides were in fact showcased earlier this year in their bout against Georgia Tech where they were able to put all of their work from practice into play. This bout helped bridge a connection between both teams and push toward growing representation of the sport amongst college students.

Bouts (games) play a crucial role in the sport but are often another tedious task to put together, as they require funding and volunteers to be executed effectively. Once completed, the satisfaction of playing for the team is like no other for Chip.

“Once it’s all put together it’s satisfying to see all of the hard work we put in to make it happen,” she said. “And having players say they benefited from playing makes it gratifying as well because there aren’t many sports for nonbinary [people].” 

Spreading awareness is crucial to the team, especially as they plan bigger events to unite collegiate teams across the nation for the first national collegiate bout, which Chip will host.  

“I will be hosting the first national collegiate game to gain exposure and get more schools and teams on board,” Chip said. “So far, we have contacted Georgia Tech, UGA, [Appalachian State], Arizona State and 5C roller derby.”

The team represents so much more than just exposure for the sport. Forming a community of acceptance has also become crucial to the team, as most teammates identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. As a result, a sense of safety and understanding have become a part of the team’s culture and played a role in the decision to not transition the team towards being co-ed, a sentiment described by Wednesday. 

“A lot of our members are queer and identify with the LGBTQ+ community,” she said. “And we also welcome nonbinary individuals, and that makes it hard to include men because it can feel as if it is almost [they’re] invading that space in a way.”