Last updated 5:19AM ET
June 30, 2016
Local Features
Local Features
Paducah's Radioactive City Roller Girls
(wkms) - "Jess"tified Homicide, Mean Mean Mississippi Queen and Pippi Villakillya are some of the aliases of players on the Radioactive City Atomics: Paducah's all-girl roller derby team. The sport's been around since the 1930's and Paducah's team turns three years old this season. Its area fan base is picking up speed and Chris Taylor brings you to Paducah's Regional Sports Plex for this season's debut bout against the northern Kentucky Black-N-Bluegrass team.

A crowd of around three hundred onlookers fully surround an oval circuit inside the indoor rec center. The stands are filled and many spectators sit along the tape-marked boundaries of the track. The teams skate loops as they warm up and you can hear the wheels of their skates rumble and skid as they pass by.

The atmosphere is charged with energy and the crowd's excitement rivals that of a playoff basketball game here in the commonwealth. The girls don elbow and knee pads, helmets, and their cheeks and lips protrude, covering a mouth guard in the unfortunate event of a face shot. Most Atomics wear fishnet stockings and have highly visible tattoos. Some even wear intimidating war paint.

The amped-up team and electric atmosphere are most certainly warranted at any roller derby match. It's a full contact sport; so body checks, crashes and spills are plentiful as the teams roll by at high speeds. The sport's goal: A member of each team, called a jammer, essentially races to lap the opposing jammer through a pack of eight other players, who are all trying to block them from passing. After a jammer makes it through the pack, they generate points when they pass players again. For many fans, this is their first time seeing a roller derby bout. Paducah residents David Gordon and Timmy Casey tell what brings them out.

(Gordon) They go around the track like Nascar but they hit each other so it sounds awesome. (Casey) It's better than Nascar. (Gordon) I expect to see violent rollerskating. (Casey) And hot girls in fish nets. (Gordon) Yeah.

Brown- Girls, Girls and Girls being mean.

Veteran fan Carol Brown.

Brown- You have all these ideas of you know girls being little debutants, girls being cheerleaders, girls being this. This is way out of the general idea of what girls can do. It's wonderful. And those fish net hose, you got to admit, the guys love it.

Veteran player Ashley Shewmaker or "Nurse Lithium" can attribute part of the intensity from the crowd and the team to the Atomic's commitment to the sport.

Shewmaker- A lot of people don't take derby as serious as we do, but it's a serious sport for us. We have rules and regulations and I'm really proud of our girls and that's one of the reasons that keeps me coming back.

Shewmaker says the Atomics not only work hard on the rink, but the team is also making headway on how they're received by the public. She says the team has historically had a reputation for being rough and tumble, tattooed, pierced-up chicks, but that doesn't define Meg Rhame.

Rhame- I go by Hedz McCracken for roller derby. They also call me Heddy.

This is Rhame's first bout against another team since she started training about six months ago. Rhame works as a perfusionist at Lourdes and Western Baptist Hospitals. Her job isn't the only thing that distinguishes her from several of her teammates: she doesn't sport any tattoos or body piercings either. That's something she says speaks to the team's all-inclusive nature.

Rhame- It really doesn't matter what body type, what age, what profession, where it's not just a sport, but it's a social network where girls are just super supportive of each other and you have a great time together.

Ashley Shewmaker also points out the Atomics aren't just supportive of each other but surrounding communities as well. She cites the team's recent trip to Reidland Elementary.

Shewmaker- We taught them sports safety and nutrition and how to train your body for athletics.

And portions of the proceeds from the Atomics' bouts go to local charity groups. Now back to the action, the Atomics ended up trouncing the Black-N-Bluegrass 160 to 43. No one sustained any serious injuries beyond some bruises and rink rash. They play next month in Evansville and you can check them out at their next home bout on June 26th.
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