Photos: Roller derby super-fans spotted at the WFTDA championships
Every sports team needs super-fans -- and that includes roller derby teams. Twelve of the best from around the country are at the 1stBANK Center this weekend, competing in the WFTDA Championships, and several brought their most rabid supporters -- you know, the guys (and gals) who are willing to go shirtless, paint their hairy bodies, wear their sister's sparkly hotpants, bang cowbells with sticks and wield fake chainsaws. Yeah, those guys.
Here, we present five roller derby teams's super-fans.
Tom Moore, super-fan of the Texas Rollergirls Tom Moore's get-up will haunt your dreams. Okay, maybe not really -- but it does make him stand out in the crowd. Covered head to toe in fake blood, Moore dons a metallic mask and waves a plastic chainsaw as "The Texe-cutioner," the Texas Rollergirls's unofficial mascot.
Underneath the costume, he's just a friendly football-and-NASCAR kind of guy known as "Big Tom" who fell in love with roller derby after seeing his first bout in 2004.
"When you bring guys to derby, their first thought is, 'Oh, hot chicks!'" Moore says. "But sports guys's minds will starting turning and they'll start to wonder, How does this work? How do they score points? How do they win?"
By kicking ass, is how. But having crazy fans who scream "Kill! Kill! Kill!" doesn't hurt.
Amy Stomberg and Chad Eng, super-fans of the Minnesota RollerGirls For Friday's bout, in which the Minnesota RollerGirls defeated Baltimore, Chad Eng painted his face. But for Saturday's more intense match-up versus Texas, tradition dictated that he and his friends kick it up a notch. "It's a good thing we didn't win again," he says. "We'd be naked."
Instead, Eng's crew (some of whom had to bushwhack through thick nests of body hair to paint their chests) was shirtless, their chests and bellies each sporting a letter to spell "MINNESOTA." During time-outs, however, they got creative. With help from a few grammar whizzes, they rearranged themselves to spell "INSANE" and "NO INMATES."
Rachel "Pippi Strongsocking" McAlpin and Sabrina "Sunshine Skate" Tamayo, super-fans of Gotham Girls Roller Derby These ladies have balls. During the most heated bout of the afternoon -- New York's Gotham Girls versus Denver's Rocky Mountain Rollergirls -- New York fans Rachel McAlpin and Sabrina Tamayo crossed enemy lines to sit smack in the middle of a tense pack of Denver fans.
Why? "They were good seats," Tamayo says. "We're not afraid of them. We knew we were going to win." And win they did, defeating Denver 169 to 138 and knocking the hometown team (and defending champions) out of the tournament.
When it became clear that New York was going to take it, Tamayo and McAlpin say they got a little sassy. "At one point, I screamed, 'Forget about it, Rocky!'" McAlpin says. Tamayo, meanwhile, attempted to sabotage Denver's cheer of "Rocky! Rocky! Rocky! Fight! Fight! Fight!" by shouting "Rocky! Rocky! Rocky! Lose! Lose! Lose!"
"We were classy," McAlpin says. "At least we weren't cursing."
Colin, Caitlyn and Doug McFarland, super-fans of the Kansas City Roller Warriors The family that bares its asses together, stays together. That could be the McFarland motto. That brothers Colin and Doug and sister Caitlyn traveled from Kansas City equipped with handmade signs to watch sister Kristin "Eclipse" Clarke skate at the national championships would be heartwarming enough. But to make it even more Hallmark-worthy, the McFarlands donned said sister's sparkly hotpants.
"We were screaming, cheering and holding our signs up," says big brother Colin. "And I was trying not to let my balls fall out." He pauses. "Sequins are a little chafing."
James Williams, super-fan of roller derby ladies everywhere James Williams is a different, perhaps more desperate, kind of super-fan. He's a roller derby referee (derby name: Krunchy) for Fort Collins's FoCo Girls Gone Derby. And he's single -- a fact he made clear Saturday with his hand-lettered white-board sign: "Want a Derby Wife."
"A derby wife is a tradition in roller derby," he explains. "Roller derby takes up a lot of your time so you find a spouse inside derby in addition to your real spouse."
But Williams doesn't have a real spouse, either -- although he's in the market. "Either way, I'll find a wife," he jokes. As for how potential mates can locate him, he suggests his Facebook fan page. Or just stop by Section 117. He's the guy with the "wife wanted" sign.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events happening in the Denver art and theater scene.