MANCHESTER CENTER, VT. — Grab your pads and your best bleacher creature yell — it's roller derby time.

Thinking about rolling over to the see the Southshire Battle Cats take the track against the Twin City Riots from Barre-Montpelier on Saturday, July 30? Join in the fun — and be in the know — when rooting on the home team. If you're a newbie, stay in bounds with these tips from Amy Moore, president of Southshire Roller Derby.

Here are five things you should know before you go to a Roller Derby game:

1. Know the rules: Even if you think you know a little bit about roller derby — we all remember those awesome bouts on television, right? — there is still a lot to the game. Moore recommends learning the rules and basic strategy. "The jammers (skaters with stars on their helmets) score points by lapping opposing skaters," she explained. "The blockers play offense and defense simultaneously — by helping their own jammer get through the group of blockers (called a pack) and by stopping the opposing team's jammer."

2. Watch the referees: While the full-contact sport has a lot of action on the rink, Moore suggests turning your attention from the pack to the zebra — or ref. "Their hand signals and whistles tell a lot about what's going on in the game, not just who got a penalty," she said.


3. Pick your seat: At the Battle Cats home venue — Riley Rink at Hunter Park in Manchester Center, Vt. — fans are encouraged to bring their own chairs. According to Moore, if you bring your own seat you can sit right near the track and get an up-close look at the action. Note: Children under the age of 18 must be at least 6 feet away from the crash zone. There is also some bleacher seating and if you just want to stand and watch, that's OK, too.

A note about the track: If you're remembering the Roller Derby of ole' don't expect to see these jammers skating on banked track. "We can play our game on any flat, skateable surface that's at least 108 x 73 . As we travel around to play we'll play on concrete, wood (skating rinks/gyms), and skate court," according to the Southshire Roller Derby website. This change opened up venue possibilities for roller derby teams across the country.

4. Bring the family: "Southshire Roller Derby makes events out of their games," according to Moore. There are activities for kids of all ages, a photo booth, a craft table, face/body painting, a beer garden in addition to some exciting roller derby activity. Cheering is not only invited but encouraged — the more noise the better. Cowbells are OK, but leave the air horns at home as they are not allowed in the venue.

Cheer on the local squad equipped with basic roller derby rules and regulations.
Cheer on the local squad equipped with basic roller derby rules and regulations. (Photo by Brandon Clifton)

5. Game time: Games last about one and a half hours, according to Moore. "We usually either have two games or a game and a skating exhibition," she said.