April 18, 2016
Taking their league name from the legendary Godfather of Soul, James Brown, the Soul City Sirens are devoted to promoting the sport of roller derby in their community and across the region. Fans can check out one of the league's biggest contributions next month as they gear up to host the 3rd annual "Low Down Throw Down" D3 WFTDA-Recognized tournament. Learn more about the tournament and other activities from the Soul City Sirens coming up in 2016!
Where are you located?
We are located in Augusta, Georgia home of the Army Signal Corps and the Masters Golf Tournament. Augusta, GA was also home to the legendary Godfather of Soul, James Brown. This is why we chose the name Soul City Sirens. It's a lot catchier than Golf City Roller Derby. We also unofficially call ourselves Augusta Roller Derby.
When was your league formed?
Our league was formed in January 2008. We played our first game in October 2008 against the Richland County Regulators.
When did you join WFTDA?
We were accepted into the Women's Flat Track Derby Association Apprentice Program in July 2011.
When did you graduate from the Apprentice Program?
We graduated from the Apprentice Program in March 2013.
How does your season run?
Our season runs from February to November. We take the month of July and December-January off from inter-league play. However we do continue having practice during those months.
What are the closest WFTDA leagues to you?
The closest WFTDA leagues to us to the North are the Columbia Quad Squad and The Richland County Regulators both of Columbia, SC. To the West, The Classic City Rollergirls of Athens, GA.
How many skaters/teams do you have?
As a military town our numbers fluctuate throughout the year. Our numbers generally hover between 20-35. We have one team, although we hoping to be able to build up to an A and a B team eventually. Our numbers have greatly increased this year so we are hoping to build upon that momentum.
How is your league structured (home teams, travel team, management)?
Our team is a 501c4 non-profit managed by a board consisting of 5 team members. Each board member has several committees under them who help organize and run the functions of the league. These committees and their functions have varied throughout the years as our needs change. They cover the basics of fundraising, training, recruiting, marketing, sponsorship, WFTDA management, finances, merchandise, and Intra-league coordination. Our team is divided into fresh meat, not so fresh meat and Scrimmaging/Bouting Skaters. We have one team although we have always hoped to build to an A and B team. The hope is that the B team would feed into the A team and give newer scrimmaging skaters the ability to get their feet wet in non-WFTDA sanctioned games.
Who is your biggest rival? And have you had any outstanding, memorable moments when you've played them?
Our biggest rivalries have been with The Richland County Regulators and The Classic City Rollergirls. The first time we won a game against Classic City by just a few points several of us were crying during the victory lap. Over the past 2 years, the Marietta/Rome, GA team Peach State Roller Derby became an important rivalry for us. The first 3 times we played Marietta we won. Peach State’s response was to prepare for us by wearing our colors at their practice and training specifically for our players. They said that every time they played us we would bring it, but in a classy way and they were determined to beat us. They finally beat us handily in the Fall of 2015. So we are looking forward to the next time we can take them on.
Do you have any sister/brother/junior leagues you’d like to give a shout out to?
Both the Richland County Regulators and the Classic City Rollergirls were instrumental in helping us get our team started. Classic City taught us all the basics at a boot camp in January 2008 and our first scrimmages and bouts were with The Richland County Regulators. The Atlanta Rollergirls and Columbia Quad Squad have also given us much guidance over the years. In February we played the Atlanta Rollergirls C Team, the Jukes of Hazzard. We were quite intimidated by this match up, but we actually held our own and the score was pretty close for much of the game. Our league is thankful to Atlanta for giving us a good game.
What are the individual challenges of your city?
As the second largest city in Georgia, Augusta has many different groups of people and a wide populous to attract derby players. However, Augusta also seems to have two main groups of people, the kind who are content to settle in and focus on raising family and those who are here temporarily due to work or school. Many of our team members are military and they only live here for 6 months – 2 years at a time. Some of our players have been here for school at Augusta University, either at the four year college or in the Medical or Dental Schools. Many are in the process of looking for jobs elsewhere after graduating. So we constantly have an influx of skaters coming in for sometimes only 6-8 months and then moving on to their next town. A tiny core of our team are people who plan on staying in town long term.
What are your biggest training challenges?
Living in a Military town, we have a high turnover rate of skaters coming and going. Getting skaters up to game play level is a struggle. Training in a rink makes for limited practice availability; trying to balance the needs of developing new skaters with challenging bouting skaters can be difficult.
Tell us about your training facilities.
We train at the Redwing Rollerway Rink. It has a smooth coated concrete surface.
Where do you hold your public games?
Until two years ago, our games were held at Redwing Rollerway Rink on Sunday nights. However, due to the fact that and increasing number of teams were refusing to travel to us on Sunday nights we started having games at the Columbia County Exhibition Center in Grovetown, GA. The CCEC has a smooth polished concrete floor that can be slippery when the air conditioner gets cranked up. Moving our games away from the rink allowed us to provide seating for our fans, better concessions, parking, bathroom facilities and locker rooms for the officials and skaters.
How many days a week do you practice? How are your practices divided/organized among your teams/skaters?
We practice 3 days a week. Sundays are endurance practices open to all level skaters. Monday nights are fresh meat nights dedicated to training the newer skaters. Tuesday nights are scrimmaging/bouting practices. At all practices depending on who is present and which trainers are available we often divide off into newer and more vet level skaters so that scrimmaging/bouting level skaters can have more contact drill time. All skaters are encouraged to attend all 3 practices per week, however only 2 are required.
Who are some “behind the scenes” skaters/members who really help your league run?
With such a small group, really ALL the members are behind the scenes and essential to helping the league run! If I had to pick out just one whose efforts often go unrecognized it would be Damn Yankee. In addition to being a great referee, her involvement in WFTDA have really kept us on track and helped with getting WFTDA D3 Tournament status. She also is our NSO wrangler.
What are some of your league's biggest accomplishments?
Our league’s biggest accomplishment is putting on the Low Down Throw Down Tournament. We were very proud that we expanded it to 2 days in its’ second year and are even more excited to make it a bracketed tournament this year.
You're gearing up to host your 3rd annual WFTDA D3 tournament, the Low Down Throw Down a WFTDA-Recognized Tournament, May 20-22nd. What are some of the exciting things you have planned for skaters and fans?
We are one of only a few true bracketed tournaments at the D3 level of play. This makes the LDTD a sort of unofficial regional championship, with a lot of bragging rights on the line for the victor. There is going to be exciting and competitive game play for the fans, great facilities for our skaters and officials, great caterers for event food, and some great raffles.
By hosting a D3 tournament, your league has done a great service on increasing competition in your region. What are some of the reasons you choose to focus on D3 teams for the Low Down Throw Down?
As stated, the lack of tournaments at the D3 level of play. The only way to truly grow our sport is from the bottom, up. Quality tournaments give D3 teams tournament level experience, and help them learn and adapt to that style of play. This will hopefully make D3 teams better, and more competitive, and help to push them up the rankings into the D2. We really appreciate WFTDA recognizing our tournament. What would be fantastic would be for WFTDA to stream the LDTD on WFTDA.TV. Letting other D3 teams and their fans see the games live on the web would help to inspire them to take on tournaments of their own!
Who are some of your star skaters on the track, and why?
Obviously our star skaters would be nothing without the rest of the team, however some standouts are: Ethyl Agitate - The most experienced and consistent Siren Hell2Pae – A very skilled skater, and force on the track Lil'ArieHell - The Sirens’ breakout skater for this year BeatherPan - She can jam, she can block, a true double threat ZigZag - Her calming presence on the track
Do you have any big games or tournaments coming up that you're really looking forward to? Why?
Certainly our tournament, the Low Down Throw Down, because it is the first year we've been recognized by WFTDA as a D3 bracketed tournament. Dixie Derby Girls, because we have never played them and the Greenville Derby Dames. They are both sanctioned games that we have a good shot at winning.
This past January you celebrated your 8-year anniversary! What are some of the major changes your league has seen since the start, and where do you see the league moving in the future?
Making it to an 8-year anniversary has been quite the struggle and we attribute it to a lot of hard work! When we first started the league we envisioned having 2 home teams which we named the Atomic Annies and the Rock-a-Betties in addition to a travel team which we would call the Soul City Sirens. After having one bout between our 2 home teams, the derby newness wore off and we began losing people to the typical derby strife that occurs as a new league develops bylaws, management and coaching staff. Beginning with our second year we focused on our one travel team and maintaining enough skaters to support that. We are now at a point where we have league management down pretty well and are now focusing on improving our WFTDA ranking, hopefully moving up to Class B WFTDA status, and recruiting enough skaters to have a B team in addition to our WFTDA Charter team.
Do you have any big fundraisers coming up?
The Benderdinker 2016, which is a local fundraiser for Augusta Locally Grown, a nonprofit that supports locally grown food and connecting eaters and farmers. Benderdinker is a paddle/eating/music event. Paddlers kayak, canoe and paddle board around an island on the Savannah River, while visiting stations where live bands are playing and there is food and drink to purchase. Our team provides shuttle services for the paddlers at the start/finish. We shuttle the boats and paddlers to and from cars and receive tips in return. This event goes from early morning until late in the evening so there is potential for it to be a very successful fundraiser. Benderdinker also allows us to set up a booth to promote our league and raffle off an item to raise funds. This event is a nice partnership between our two non-profits. More information can be found about the Benderdinker here.
Who are some of your favorite sponsors?
We have had so many sponsors and it is hard to choose favorites. A complete list can be found on our webpage. Our favorite sponsor is Timmy Pittman. He is the owner of Larry Pittman & Associates, a local construction contracting company. Our second favorite sponsor is White Tiger Custom Graphics who printed most of our merchandise and jerseys last year! A few other sponsors to note: Augusta Locally Grown Carolina Ale House The Augusta Sports Council Strother’s Printing for doing a great job on all our printing needs! And last but not least, Pabst Blue Ribbon!
Do you have a special message for your fans?
We really appreciate our fans! Playing to an empty house would be boring, so thank you! Come out this May, and see some great teams play for bragging rights and the chance to claim the title of Low Down Throw Down champions! WHOSE CITY? SOUL CITY!
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Real. Strong. Athletic. Revolutionary.