On a sunny, Saturday morning, the tables at Humble Family Skate Center are decorated with brightly colored table clothes and paper hats, waiting for birthday parties. Across from the tables, 10 women race around the rink, strategically ramming hips and shoulders into each other. Party goers pause to watch the women before heading to the tables. "Is that roller derby?" they whisper.
The Montgomery County Missfits don't play Hollywood's version, the kind recently seen on TV shows such as "The Bachelor" and "Bones". The founders have been working since July 2012 to create a home for real derby in Humble, Texas.
"This ain't your mama's league," says Keri Strother, known on the track as Royal Tease. Teammate Missy Smith, also known as Missy Mayday, adds, "It's not WWE. It's real."
One thing that separates the Missfits' game from the TV version of roller derby is the team's family-friendly atmosphere. "That's what our league is about," says Missy, a stay-at-home mother who started skating as a way to make friends. "Family events. Family time. A lot of us bring our kids and husbands and boyfriends.
Royal Tease is a single parent of two children. "I bring my twins," she says. "They skate right along with the girls." While children of skaters are welcome to skate during basic skill drills, they don't participate in any contact drills. This keeps practices fun and safe.
The team also makes a commitment to help the community. Missy explains that after they filed non-profit status they thought, "How can we help other non-profits and charities, and incorporate them into the derby crowd?"
Royal Tease explains one of the ways the team has already helped is by participating in the Montgomery County Food Bank drive in December. To continue, she says the home bouts this season will each benefit a different charity.
"We're small business oriented," adds Missy. "We look to help out through sponsorships." Businesses that sponsor the Missfits receive, not only ads in the bout programs, but can also have a table at bouts to promote their business. Some businesses even chose to sponsor a specific skater and have the company logo printed on her uniform. Since the sponsorship prices vary from $25 to $400, promoting business is easy and affordable.
Aside from helping the Humble community, the Missfits are looking to expand the derby community by forming of a coed team.
"It basically started with bringing the husbands and boyfriends," says Missy. The men fell in love with the action of roller derby and wanted to play, too. The only skating position open was refereeing. "We have a lot of people wanting to ref. Might as well kill two birds with one stone. Let them ref women's league games, and then let them play coed with us when we find other coed teams."
The team has coed bouts planned for July and August. But for those looking to catch the Missfits in action sooner, the women will be playing against Northside Fury on Sunday, February 24, at Humble Family Skate Center, 320 N. Houston Avenue. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the bout starts at 7:30.