If you haven't had a chance yet to catch Somer City Roller Derby in action here in Somerset, you've got one more opportunity.
This Sunday, October 13, Somerset's own roller derby squad will go up against the Terrorz Roller Derby unit out of Columbus, Ind., at The Center for Rural Development. It's the last of three home dates for Somer City in this, the team's first season of play.
"We, as a team, are so proud of our inaugural season," said Andi Tomlinson, who competes under the roller derby name "Brawly Parton" -- all the competitors have clever aliases. "We have worked so hard to be able to compete this season and it's been tough, there is no doubt about that. It has been a hard fought season, however, I feel that we have come out on the other side a stronger team in both skills and camaraderie.
"While we did not win as much as we wanted to, we learned so very much about strategy, offense, and defense in the process," she added. "I believe that our skills and abilities improved every single time we played this season."
The team spent last year honing their skills in preparation to this year's schedule, which has eight bouts on it, three here at home. While that first victory has been elusive, going up against more experienced squads, Somer City has improved each time out and has one more chance to show the home crowd what they can do.
"We have the best fans!" said Tomlinson. "Our home crowds have been phenomenal."
Phenomenal and well-attended -- the first home bout, back on June 8, saw more than 300 people show up to support the non-profit sports team. The second home date in July wasn't far behind.
"We are so incredibly blessed to have such an amazing, supportive community that have stuck with us from the beginning of this journey and are finally getting to see the fruits of our labor," said Tomlinson. "We hear them chanting our names and making social media posts in support of us and the love we have for them is out of this world. Our team would not be whole without our community. We love seeing all of the faces in the crowd!"
Doors open to the public this Sunday at 2 p.m., with the bout -- "Somerween," as its been titled -- beginning at 3 p.m. Tickets will be $8 at the door.
As usual. Skater Jars will be available at the Somer City table so fans can vote for their favorite skater -- $1 equals one vote. The skater with the most money in their jar at the end of the night wins the honor of being "Fan Favorite." All money from the skater jars will be donated to local non-profit arts organization Watershed Arts Alliance.
"This bout, we are celebrating local art and artists, with several local artisans displaying their works or information about their businesses," said Tomlinson.
The original hope for this bout was to do a doubleheader with another roller derby team -- this one featuring men. While roller derby teams are typically thought of as being made up of female athletes, such as Somer City, there are several men's roller derby leagues across the nation. Men's Roller Derby of Kentucky (MRDoK) out of Lexington is one such team.
"We loved the idea of being able to host them as a double header with our scheduled bout with Terrorz," said Tomlinson. "Unfortunately, due to lack of availability, MRDoK will be unable to play. However, we look forward to hosting a double header with them next season."
Tomlinson said that the team thanks all their sponsors, without which the season would not have been possible, and can't wait to see them, friends and family at this last home bout. (One more date remains on the schedule, against the Black Diamond Betties in Athens, Ohio.)
"We have learned that endurance and determination are the main keys to being successful on the track. We have learned that sometimes it's not about the points, but about the effort that was given in the game and how much fun was had overall," said Tomlinson. "We have learned so much about offense, defense, and derby skills just by playing different teams from all over the place. We have been so lucky to have had such a positive and uplifting first season; we have played several teams that have praised us for how quickly we have learned skills and have become tough opponents. Obviously, we are still learning, but next season will be even harder hitting. We can't wait to share it with everyone!"