Location: Ohio Building at the Ohio Expo Center, 717 E. 17th Ave., Columbus, OH 43211
Roller skating has always been near to my heart. My parents met at Rollerland, later married, and have been married for over 50 years. I remember the few times I viewed my parents skate. My dad’s style was fast and lacking rhythm; my mom was slow, smooth, and cool. My skating style is somewhere in the middle; it is sort of smooth, cool, but fast (speed wheels). Just about every Friday night for over 10 years, I could be found skating at the Gospel Skate from midnight to 3:00 am at USA East. Playing gospel music did not change the way we skated (fast paced and relentless). If you couldn’t “pearl” and “pearl” fast, then you better skate towards the middle… Fall at your own risk… If you didn’t get up immediately, three people would jump over you. Many an elbow was thrown when people tried to cut in the line. That was the custom, to skate following in single file or double file. From time to time, I watched the Roller Derby on TV, so I was excited to attend the match between the Ohio Roller Derby (355) and West Virginia (82), on April 21, 2018, at the fairgrounds.
The environment was different than I expected. I thought the track would be more elevated. I also thought the players were going to be taller, with some built like the female American Gladiators. I thought the crowd was going to be rowdy like the time I attended my first Professional Wrestling match (Dusty Rhodes, Andre the Giant, Wrestling Number 2, Rick Flair, etc.) The fans were excited, but not rowdy and seemed to have a great time. I asked the person sitting next to me if it was customary to see fighting, elbows, pushing, blood, etc. Violence whether real or staged was a part of the roller derby I remember watching on TV. I wanted and expected to see it. She said, “No. This is more about the art of the sport.”
My take on the Ohio Roller Derby:
I can recognize the talent needed to be successful in roller derby. However, in my opinion something was missing. Entertainment. A fight, an argument, pushing, etc. would have gone a long way in selling the activity. Would I go back? Ummm… possibly to take pictures.