Raising rates force roller girls outside


Reporter - Lauren Adams
Photojournalist - Chad Darnall

PADUCAH — Pads, helmets, even mouth guards: there's gear, sassy names and attitude, one that in this case, means not quitting.

"There's snow on me," Mary Ellen Bristoe exclaimed as she suited up for an outdoor practice Friday afternoon.

"It's a little ridiculous," Kelsey Doyle agreed.

But for now, practicing at the Noble Park Skate Park is one of the only options for The Radioactive City Rollergirls.

"We're just sort of doing what we can," said Meggie Bristoe, better known on the track as 'Megala Mayhem'.

The Convention Center's money problems hit the 14 member group hard. In October, J. Patrick Kerr and Susan Wilson were arrested and charged with embezzling more than $230,000.

"We were really surprised, a little freaked out," Bristoe continued.

The Convention Center's new management doubled their rent, trying to recoup their losses, all the while making money. It meant the roller girls could no longer afford the climate-controlled room at the Convention Center.

For weeks, they have traveled to Clarksville and Nashville to train with other teams. But with expenses mounting, they have turned to the skate park.

The once designated track lines they were used to are now non-existent. Conditions on this Friday are wet and slippery, more dangerous than usual.

But Bristoe said the girls are determined to keep skating and competing.

"A lot of roller derby is about overcoming obstacles, whether on the track or in life, so you really have to roll with it."

For now, the bouts are being held out of town, so the roller girls are not able to make any money to cover expenses.

They have looked at spots in Murray but they would really like to go back to the convention center and said they are still "negotiating" that new price of $2,500.

Chairman of the board Jim Sigler says The Convention Center does not want to lose any business and in fact is honoring written contracts that existed in the past.