From The Rink, Up

Zombrella Takes a Break during Open Skate, 2006

 Zombrella Makes a Tough Face for the Camera During an Open Skate "Practice," Summer 2006

In the early summer months of 2006, an idea was beginning to take shape on the worn, wooden floor of a dark and stuffy roller rink. Dayna Noffke, Matt Kirkland and Jen Albino, a trio of friends from Athens, Georgia, were doting fans of the Atlanta Rollergirls. After attending bouts in Atlanta for months, cheering for the home team and learning the sport, the three had come to the following conclusion: Athens needed its own roller derby team.

Building a Following

In order to find potential members of their future league, Dayna, Matt and Jen began religiously attending open skates at Skate Around, U.S.A., the only roller skating rink in Athens. It was through these open skates that the original three began to recruit for their organization, known as Athens Roller Derby. Their goal was to create a league that would later become a member of the WFTDA (Women's Flat Track Derby Association). One of the first priorities was adopting skate names. A tradition in derby, your skate name was part of your persona. Dayna adopted the name Zombrella, Matt became the referee Sarcastro, and Jen adopted Third-Degree Burn.

“Zombrella had been to several Atlanta Rollergirls games, and just decided that she was going to spearhead getting a bunch of women together in Athens... She was trying to get us together, really encouraging us to come to Skate Around and skate, to just build some camaraderie.” - Elizabeth Impaler

News of the forming league travelled by word of mouth at the rink and via a Myspace page, and spread as skaters recruited their coworkers and friends. A small ad ran in the wanted pages of the Flagpole, calling for women to join the league at their open skate practices. Derby was new to the Athens scene, a town where oddities are the norm. Derby’s weirdness and novelty drew women of all kinds, but particularly those who had little or no experience with sports.