Smoky Mountain Roller Girls bring the pain…and the fun

by Jan 26, 2012Front Page, NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments




By day, Blythe S. Winchester , MD is a doctor at the Cherokee Indian Hospital.

But, several nights a month, the EBCI tribal member dons skates and takes to the roller derby rink under the name “Sesamean Streak”.

Joining her teammates on the Smoky Mountain Roller Girls including “Butternut Squash”, “Honey Smack” and “Trainwrecka Becca” among others, Winchester and the other ladies are bringing a unique and fun sport to this part of the Smoky Mountains.

Practicing since March 2011, the Roller Girls have established a roller derby league in Bryson City.  Right now, they are practicing and will play their first inter-league bout on St. Patrick’s Day, Saturday, March 17 at 5pm at the Swain County Rec. Center where they practice regularly.

“What I enjoy the most is the contact,” said Winchester.  “There just aren’t that many opportunities for females to be involved in contact sports.”

The Smoky Moutain Roller Girls skate hard during a practice at the Swain County Rec. Center on Wednesday, Jan. 25. Dr. Blythe "Sesamean Streak" Winchester, an EBCI tribal member, is shown at far right. (DAWN ARNEACH/One Feather contributor)

She said as they were starting the league it was common for her teammates to apologize after hard contacts, but now they’re settled into the roller derby mentality and realize that it can be a rough sport.

“You learn that you don’t say you’re sorry, that’s what you’re trying to do,” said Winchester.  That’s what I love the most is that we have a sport where you can get physical and knock people over.  It’s a lot of fun.”

The Roller Girls are open to all women 18 and older and all levels of skating ability.  Beginning skaters are welcome to take part in what is known as “fresh meat training” where veteran, more experienced skaters help the newer skaters build the skills they would need to have fun at the sport including the all important knowledge of how to fall safely.

Prior to beginning their practice on Wednesday, the Roller Girls took time for a group photo. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)

Becca “Trainwrecka Becca” Berggren, from Sylva, told why she loves roller derby, “I grew up in a big family.  We beat each other up all the time, it’s what I like to do.  It’s camaraderie.  It’s great camaraderie.”

Being new to the area, League president Hope Brainerd said being a part of the Roller Girls has helped her make friends.  “I’ve always been a competitive person anyway, but I think the best part of the whole thing is the female camaraderie and making friends with people I wouldn’t have normally met.”

Brainerd said the Roller Girls hope to one day send an “A” team to play other league teams, but will also remain a grounded team.  “Our mission is to be very local.”

For more information about the Smoky  Mountain Roller Girls, visit the team’s Facebook site or email