When testing out their new portable skate court inside the Adams Center last month, the Hellgate Rollergirls found the plastic track a bit noisier than the cement court they've grown accustomed to. However, falling isn't quite as painful.
"It's not so jarring," says Rollergirl Carrie Nelson, AKA "Scarlet AnnihilateHer."
The court is portable, too. That's good news for the fledgling roller derby league, which was poised earlier this week to sign off on an agreement with the University of Montana that would allow the Rollergirls to begin holding bouts in the Adams Center.
"We are definitely moving on up," Nelson says.
They're moving up and, as one would expect, they're moving fast. Since a handful of aspiring roller derby girls committed to bringing the high-impact all-female sport to Missoula in July 2009, the phenomenon has exploded. After just more than a year of mobilizing support, the Missoula league moved into a Westside warehouse last April where their bouts have drawn upwards of 1,300 fans. It quickly became apparent that the divas need more room.
"Clearly we've outgrown that space," Nelson says.
The Rollergirls began eyeing the Adams Center, capable of seating some 5,000 fans. As of press time, the league had not yet signed a contract with UM, but Adams Center Executive Director Mary Muse told the Independent Tuesday that the university is prepared to move forward with the deal.
"We're excited about the possibility of working with them," Muse says. "At this point, it looks pretty good."
That leaves the Rollergirls busy planning future bouts. Nelson says the league aims to hold its inaugural Adams Center match March 25, featuring local teams the Brawlin' Mollies and the Dirt Road Dolls.
From there, the ladies will look to invite teams from neighboring communities like Spokane, Billings and Coeur d'Alene so they, too, can throw elbows in the new digs.
"We're finalizing the rest of the dates right now," Nelson says.