On a cold Wednesday night, Joan Jett plays quietly in the background as 13 skaters race up and down the rink of Skate World in Deer Park. Together these women fall, spin and sprint, pushing past the winter air burning their lungs. The drill: suicides. The goal: to prepare for this Sunday's opening bout.
A mash-up bout features players from separate teams playing on the same roster against another team of mixed players. It's for fun, not ranking, and it offers those who haven't seen a bout a chance to learn the game before the season gets into full swing.
Mike Sherrill, Rocket City's coach, says fans can expect a faster game this season. The Women's Flat Track Derby Association, whose rule set Rocket City abides by, has updated some of it's rules for 2013. Instead of a separate whistle start for blockers and jammers, game play will immediately start on one whistle. This eliminates the slower jam starts known to fans and players as stroller derby.
"Strategy has a lot to do with it this season," Sherrill says. It's something the team will need when taking on San Antonio's Charmed Forces next month.
"We played them last season," says veteran skater Nestle Quik, whose real name is Amy Gandy. "It was such a close game, and we only beat them by one point. I think they're ready to win just as much as we are." Rocket City plays San Antonio twice: an away game next month and a home game in May.
Team founder, Frisky Bidness, real name of Christian Sherrill, says another factor that will make Rocket City a tougher team this season is the men who have been skating with them at practices. "They have a different body motion. I think it makes us stronger. I think it makes us less fearful of the big, tall girls."
Rocket City is making a push for a men's team or a co-ed team. "If we could build a men's team, that would be fabulous," says Frisky.
Both men and women who are interested in joining Rocket City are invited to Monday night practices. Frisky says protective gear is available to borrow on a first come, first serve basis. The only thing newcomers need to provide are mouth guards.
Fans and those interested in learning more about roller derby can catch Rocket City's mash-up bout this Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at Skate World, 401 W. Pasadena Blvd. Tickets are $12 at the door. For more information, visit RocketCityRollerGirls.com.