Quite literally armed to the teeth, more than 45 ladies in mouth guards, knee and elbow pads and multicolored helmets lace up their roller skates for their usual Wednesday night practice at Denton's Lone Star Indoor Sports Center. On the back of each shirt is a quirky roller derby nickname that the skaters wear with pride.
North Texas Derby Revolution, a three-month-old roller derby league in Denton, has more than 140 members, including three all-woman teams, a children's team and, yes, even a men's league. The group was started up by five women of various derby backgrounds who got tired of driving to Lewisville or Dallas for practice.
For these women and their sport, Denton is now a place they're happy to call home.
"The response to us opening [North Texas Derby Revolution] has been amazing," said Lauren "Rosie the Inhibitor" Powers, the league's media director. "People from all walks of life are joining our league."
With a 20,000-square-foot flat track facility at their disposal, the members of North Texas Derby Revolution are gearing up for their Sunday, Oct. 30, event at Lone Star Indoor Sports Center - the 2011 Co-ed Monster Mash-up, a Halloween-themed bout.
In one of the evening's two bouts, skaters of both sexes from all over Texas and Oklahoma will go head-to-head. It's the Swamp Things vs. the Purple People Eaters. Men and women from Houston, Dallas, Austin and Oklahoma will be mixed up to comprise the two teams.
"I'm not personally going to play in the mash-up, because I'm not ready, but it's going to be incredibly fun to watch," said Anna "KungPow Catalina" Campbell, the league's general manager. "Men and women will be bouting on the track together."
The mash-up will also feature a second bout, where the league's three all-woman teams will split into two - Jack Skeletons vs. Corpse Brides - for one night only. A costume contest and trick-or-treating will also be available for children who attend, many of whom will be there to cheer on their mothers.
"On the track, you don't have to be the mom or the teacher," Powers said. "You can be whoever you want to be. This is a place where women can come and get away from what they do on a daily basis if they want to."
The 36-year-old Campbell, a derby player and mother of five, describes North Texas Derby Revolution as a place that brings women, ranging from 18 to 50 years old, together for various reasons, but unifies them through a sense of camaraderie.
"It's pretty amazing that you can put this many different women together and no one has died," Campbell joked. "Obviously we're all different shapes, different sizes. … Some are gay, some are straight, some have kids, some hate kids, and that's okay. It's awesome that we can all get together."
Roller derby, a game that originated in the 1930s, has since evolved into a full-contact sport for modern-day women, whose rules are governed by the Women's Flat Track Derby Association.
The bouts consist of two 30-minute halves, where five women from each team - three blockers, one pivot and one jammer - form a pack of 10 that laps around the track. When the first whistle blows, each group of five tries to get its jammer through the pack, while blockers push away the opposing team's jammer. The pivot, often referred to as the captain on the field, controls the pack. When the jammer completes a lap, re-enters the pack and passes the hips of the opposing team's members, points are scored.
"In this game, bruising, pulled muscles, strains, and sprains are what you're going to see most frequently," Campbell said. "That's going to happen to you at some point during your roller derby career."
Derby trainer Amy "Dirty" Huckabee said there was a time when she tore both rotator cuffs and experienced organ failure for eight hours from an injury to her femoral artery. All because of roller derby.
"It's not if you get hurt, it's when," Huckabee said.
Regardless of their many injuries, for these women, roller derby is not just a sport, it's a lifestyle.
"For me it's something I fit into well," Powers said. She sports a sleeve of tattoos, professes a love of punk and hard-core music, and appreciates that the culture surrounding roller derby lets her be herself.
"I found my niche and it worked," she said. "It has helped get my body back into shape, it has picked my self-confidence back up, and I've never met more awesome people."
2011 CO-ED MONSTER MASH-UP
When: 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30. Doors at 4 p.m.
Where: Lone Star Indoor Sports Center, 1800 Shady Oaks Drive in Denton
Cost: $15 in advance; $17 at the door. Kids ages 12 and younger get in free. VIP tickets cost $25. VIP ticket holders are admitted 15 minutes earlier than general ticket holders and get the chance to take pictures with and get autographs from the skaters.
Details: Attendees are encouraged to bring canned goods, which are being collected by North Texas Derby Revolution and House of Quad to benefit the North Texas Food Bank.
On the Web: For tickets, visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/204365.