The story we chose to do was about the Morgantown Roller Vixens, a local roller derby team that just started up. Initially this was not our first choice, we originally wanted to do a profile piece on a female boxer on WVU’s boxing team but when she broke her hand we decided to go with the roller derby story.
At first I must say I was a bit nervous because we had no information on them because we were preparing to do the boxing story. Wil came to us and said they practice every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. We decided that we would all go on Sunday to shoot b-roll. Upon arrival I can say I was a bit disappointed. They practice at the Mylan Expo Center and if you have been there then you know that it looks like a giant airplane hanger, not great when you are trying to shoot b-roll.
The fact that they practiced in an airplane hanger was bad, but not as bad as finding out only eight girls showed up to practice. The night before practice was the coaches birthday and all the girls went out to celebrate. Apparently they celebrated a little to hard because the assistant coach told us that only a few girls would be practicing and that those girls were hungover.
So we went with what we had. We shot some b-roll and tried to get interviews, unfortunately the coaches and the players that were there were all camera shy. This was a problem because we had to show a rough draft of the project on Tuesday. We asked a couple times but they all said the same thing, “I don’t want to be put on camera.” So after that we packed up and left.
We came back Thursday and this time was much better. They had about 15-20 girls practicing and they looking excited to be there this time. Practice was once held in the airplane hanger and to add even more fun into the experience the WVU field hockey team was practicing. Luckily for us the Expo center is huge and they stayed on the opposite side. Practice and shooting was a 100 times better than on Sunday. The girls scrimmaged against each other which gave us really good shots. We also had Kayla with us this time to take photos. The first time Zach tried to take them and they didn’t turn out so good, so she came with a camera from the J school and took a lot of good photos. Not only was practice better but we were able to find people who were not camera shy.
After leaving practice we knew that we had everything that we needed.
I must say I am happy with the way things turned out. I never knew there was a team in Morgantown. The truly amazing thing was that when you go you expect to find all young girls who you would expect to be bruisers, but instead we found that many of the women were in their 30’s and 40’s, some were teachers others were bakers, the team had a real interesting mix of women. Roller derby is something that has not been popular since the 70’s but it is making a comeback. It has to be noted that it has changed a lot since the 70’s. Back then it was scripted, if you could act then you could play. Now a days however it is all real, these girls are getting hit and there is no acting involved.
I will add that I would have loved to get more footage of them falling but sadly they really did not fall. Only one girl fell the two times we were there and immediately the coach came running over asking us to shut the camera off.
In the end though this project showed how far roller derby has come and not only that but it showed how different it is. Most people would stereotype it as these large women throwing each other around when really it is the opposite. It will be interesting to see where it goes in the future.