Rollergirls prepare for final bout of season

A member of Pistol Annies (right, in blue) provides a big block and an opening so that another member of her team can move into position during a bout earlier this season. Join the Pistol Annies and the Bolt Action Betties at the Lone Star Arena at 6 pm. Saturday, Sept. 22, for their final bout of the season. A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit Cross Timbers Pregnancy Care Center. Contributed

Since its beginning in October 2011 with nine women, the Cowboy Capital Rollergirls have grown into a league of more than 40 skaters on two teams representing the area. According to president Ashley Gill aka Gillotine Grace and the CCR website, these ladies eat, sleep and breathe derby.

The two teams that currently make up the league are the Pistol Annies, an all-star traveling team, and the Bolt Action Betties, who only participate in home bouts. The women come together from Brownwood, Stephenville, Dublin, Granbury and even Fort Worth at least twice a week for practice. Gill said the group practices in Brownwood, Stephenville and Granbury so team members are able to make the practices.

"Our girls come from around the area to participate with us, so to help them, we take practices to them," she said. "If they are willing to make the drive over here from their homes across the area, we thought we could bring practices to them too."

While the Bolt Action Betties play mostly in Stephenville against teams with similar experience, the Pistol Annies are considered "the Cowboy Capital's dream team."

According to the website, "These are the league's most talented and dedicated skaters. These women train a minimum of three times a week and have played all across the southern central United States."

Gill said the league is a non-profit charity amateur sports organization, which means that not only do the teams of CCR not hold try-outs for interested participants, but that after the league has paid for the rental and other administration fees, the rest of the money made at events goes to local charities.

"We foster athleticism, empowerment and sportsmanship among women, youth and supporters while benefiting local non-profit organizations though our charitable donations and service," the CCR mission states. "We seek to promote women's athletics, provide an exciting game and a fun, family atmosphere for our fans."

For the past year, the women of CCR have been practicing, promoting and participating in bouts, continually building the brand in the area. Now, the blood, sweat and tears have paid off, and the women of CCR are making the move to the Lone Star Arena in Stephenville. The change of venue will, hopefully, help the league continue to grow and allow their large fan base to do the same.

"We practice three times a week and have bouts on the weekends," Gill said. "We've been practicing and hosting bouts in the Stephenville Roller Rink, but it's smaller than regulation tracks and super hot in there."

Gill said the league is thankful for the Stephenville Roller Rink for the use of their facilities and they will continue to hold practices there. However, she said for bouts, the Lone Star Arena was a better fit for the league.

"Now that we've grown, our league is trying to become affiliated with the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) and moving to Lone Star will help with that," Gill said. "The arena has spent the money on a regulation track, there is plenty of room for all our fans to come enjoy the bouts and the arena serves beer, which is a big part of derby. We feel it will be a great partnership and we hope to continue spreading the word."

She said the league is excited about joining the WFTDA because the opportunity will give CCR the chance to move from amateur to semi-professional. This would not only give the league more exposure, but a chance to participate in more bouts.

The last home bout of the season, which runs from March through September, will be next Saturday, Sept. 22, at Lone Star Arena with the Bolt Action Betties taking on the Dallas Derby Devils at 6 p.m. and the Pistol Annies facing off against the Cen-Tex Rollergirls following. Doors will open at 5 p.m.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Cross Timbers Pregnancy Care Center. In addition, CCR will be holding a diaper drive in conjunction with the event. Bring a package of diapers and you will be entered in a raffle to win a gift basket.