Jama Jenkins (left) and Natasha Brantley (right) compete in a roller derby for her team out of Milton, Fla. Jenkins will be the coach of the Andalusia team, which is looking for players and a venue at which to practice. |                            Courtesy photo
Jama Jenkins (left) and Natasha Brantley (right) compete in a roller derby for her team out of Milton, Fla. Jenkins will be the coach of the Andalusia team, which is looking for players and a venue at which to practice. | Courtesy photo

Roller Derby time

Published 12:03am Thursday, April 4, 2013

While it’s important to be outfitted properly, fishnets aren’t mandatory to participate in Andalusia’s newest sport – women’s roller derby.

Called “The Sweet Home Wreckers,” the push is now on to find team members and a place to skate.

Andalusia native Jama Jenkins, who now lives in Pensacola, Fla., and plays for a Milton, Fla., team, will serve as the team’s coach.

When Jenkins began posting about her roller derby races on Facebook, a couple of her Covington County friends saw the updates and were immediately interested, she said.

“They said, ‘Hey we need a team here,’” Jenkins said. “So, I told them that I’d be glad to come out and help out and coach.

“So, we started a Facebook group, and it just kind of snowballed,” she said.

Roller derby is a nationally-recognized sport with play in both men’s and women’s leagues. The national association the sport is under is the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, or WFTDA.

During a roller derby, two five-on-five teams race around a track in the same direction. Points are scored by jammers — one on each team — who have to get through the pack of blockers on the opposing team.

“It’s pretty much a race,” Jenkins said. “After the first lap, if she (the jammer) comes through the first lap and passes through the players (the blockers), then her team gets four points.”

Jenkins said this process keeps going until the jammers are called off, they tire out or two minutes have elapsed.

“It’s very crowd-pleasing,” she said.

Required uniform for each team member includes helmet, mouth guard, elbow and knee pads, and wrist guards.

Fishnets aren’t mandatory, Jenkins said.

“But it definitely adds to the flair,” she said. “We have jerseys, which are standard for the team. Most of us wear tights, otherwise the knee pads get itchy.

“They look pretty cool,” she said.

When asked why a team in Andalusia would be a good fit, Jenkins said the sport a perfect for the city because it’s a “community-driven sport.”

“It’s something that’s really empowering for women,” she said. “I’m a stay-at-home mom with a 9-month-old daughter. I got a little bored and saw that this was something for me.

“It’s great exercise. I can’t even begin to tell you,” she said. “It’s really something that I wanted to bring to Andalusia.”

All roller derby teams have to be registered as a business to compete as a LLC or non-profit organization, Jenkins said.

The Sweet Home Wreckers is still signing on sponsors and looking for a practice space.

At the moment, the Andalusia team will be renting out space from the Opp Skating Rink, unless they can find a flat, smooth surface elsewhere, the coach said.

Jessica Cobb, who Jenkins said got the skate rolling on the Andalusia team, said nine skaters have turned in paperwork and are official team members, with three more who should be returning their papers on Saturday.

Cobb said she’s seen women ages 18-40 register for the Andalusia team.

“We have several moms, myself included, and another one in her 30s,” she said.

But if one is interested in playing, there’s still time, Cobb said.

The Sweet Home Wreckers will hold a meet and greet sign up session at Badd Kitty’s Asylum on East Three Notch Street, next to Andalusia Music Shop, Saturday from noon until 4 p.m.

The meet and greet is for prospective teammates, as well as answering any questions that need answering about the new team.

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