Pink Tink (left) is calling out skaters (like Kathryn, right), sponsors, and fans from throughout the Hill Country to help form her new Kerr County Roller Derby team. Practices are underway. Photo by Phil Houseal
by Phil Houseal
Are you ready for this?
Zsa Zsa More Gore and the Wizard of Owz might be coming to a flat track near you, if Pink Tink has her way.
The 28-year-old blonde stay-at-home mom has rolled into the Hill Country with the goal of starting up a Roller Derby league. All she needs is 40 able-bodied women over the age of 18 to pull on the quad skates and knee pads, read the rules, then pick a persona in order to start jamming.
This is not your grandma’s Roller Derby (although there are skaters who are grandmas).
“Everybody knows the story of the old roller derby,” said Tink, who got her introduction to the sport in Corpus Christi. “That was absolutely brutal; they beat the crap out of each other on that banked track. We play Women’s Flat Track Derby Association rules, which means we don’t head butt, don’t elbow, don’t trip, don’t kick, and don’t fight.”
But that doesn’t mean it’s not physical. Roller derby still requires speed, stamina, and strength. And it still has all the classic moves, including the “whip assist.” This is a legitimate sport, and all the hits, body checks, and spills are 100% real.
For those not familiar with the finer points of roller derby, the game basically consists of jammers who try to break through a pack of skaters. Jammers score points by passing opposing blockers, who are trying to impede their progress.
“It can be physical,” Tink acknowledged. “You can get hurt if you don’t fall right.”
At their first practice last week, that’s where Tink started–teaching girls how to fall. She is taking on all comers from throughout the Hill Country, even those who have never been on skates or never watched a roller derby bout.
A large part of the appeal of roller derby–for both participants and fans–is that skaters adopt an on-track personality. This alter ego can be refreshingly different from their day job.
“In real life, I’m Alana,” Tink explained. “But when I come on here, I’m Pink Tink. When you hit the track, you can be whoever you want to be. You can have a Kindergarten teacher who is just the sweetest thing in class, but when they get out here and they become a smasher. It’s a way to channel aggression and have fun. I love it!”
Scrolling down the official registry, I discovered some colorful names: Al B. Bach, Abbie Cadaver, Alotta Trouble, Bambi's Revenge, Bitchy 'n' Scratchy, Brick Schmidthaus, and Bruja Loca. I can’t even tell you some of the names I found in the Cs.
Roller derby has some real benefits. Tink ticked them off: it gives people something to look forward to; it is an alternative to going to the gym and running on a boring treadmill; and it is a “sisterhood.”
“You form really close bonds with your fellow skaters,” she said. “They’re like your sisters: you fight; you make up; you take it out on the track; you knock her down; then you’re over what ever you were mad about. You get up after the game; you go out; you have a couple drinks together; and y’all are best friends again. There is always going to be that in roller derby.”
Tink also hopes to shake things up in some quiet Texas towns.
“I met a girl in a convenience store who said she was ready to leave Kerrville because there was nothing to do. When I told her I was starting a Roller Derby league, she said that might be worth staying around for!”
Fans come from all walks or life, from lawyers to bikers, and lawyers who are bikers. The audience is encouraged to be part of the show, wear costumes, get in tug of wars, pillow fights, and dance offs. “That’s just really fun and makes people want to come back.”
Underneath the brass and sass, Tink holds onto a sincere mission. She wants to change lives.
“Girls come out here for all reasons,” she said. “They can be the high school cheerleader or the high school loner. This gives girls confidence. When I joined I was really shy–I didn’t talk to anyone the first month. Then I got over it.”
As a handful of ladies arrived for their first practice, and I saw the anticipation on their faces, I kept thinking there was more to this than exercise and sisterhood. What was it?
Tink thought a moment, then looked up and said, “You’re your own hero. You inspire a lot of other people. It is neat having kids come up after a game and asking for your autograph. That’s awesome.”