Gore vs Gore
Photo by Sylvia Hagar
Ever wondered what it might be like to skate up to the line and face your worst enemy? Well, maybe not your worst enemy, but it’s definitely someone you want to pay back for all those times she grounded you. That’s right, playing roller derby isn’t just for the young anymore, it’s also for the young at heart. Yes, even our moms are looking to get a piece of the action. In one historic event, Demi Gore of the Atlanta Rollergirls got to face off against Mama Gore of the Inland Empire Derby Divas. With laughs and beat-downs, these two Gores showed how to play a first class game with class clown enjoyment.
These two Chatty Cathys live on opposite sides of the country, but keep in touch on a regular basis. They talk two to three times a week, and have planned unlimited minutes for each other’s cell phones. They are actually quite the mother/daughter pair. When they smile, you could easily mistake one for the other. When they skate, it’s a similar scenario. Even the way they talked to us about their past, present, and future, the Gores showed their softer and still alike side with a few tears (and we definitely wouldn’t want anybody to know that). Mama gushed over how proud she was of her independent daughter, and Demi gushed over how meaningful her mother has been to her all her life. But in the end, we had to ask if under all the love and devotion whether they really had it out for each other or not. Mama quickly responded, “Yes.” While Demi looked at her mother and said, “You’re going down!”
So which came first, the chicken or the egg? In this case, it was the egg. Demi started skating in 2005 with the original members of ARG. “I was looking at a tattoo magazine here in Atlanta, and I realized that one of my good friends from Pittsburgh, Penn. was in there with the LA Derby Dolls. So, I got in touch with her, and I was asking her about it. She was saying it was so much fun [and that] she had just started that year. And just a couple weeks after I saw that magazine I saw a flier for recruitment for Atlanta Rollergirls. So, I went to the recruitment.”
Of course, like all worried maternal figures, Mama was not immediately keen on the idea of her daughter hitting the track with some of the intense ladies that she remembered from ‘70s roller derby. “Oh, I told her straight off she was crazy. I said, ‘You’re going to get hurt.’ She played sports throughout her life, she played soccer and softball, but she wasn’t extremely aggressive.” More specifically Mama told Demi, “You’re going to die, you’re going to get killed, you’re going to get hurt, why do you want do this?” This was all however, before she got to see the new flat track derby in motion. “I went and watched Atlanta play in the 2006 Devil Dust in Tucson, Ariz., and after the first ten minutes, I [thought], I have to do this.”
So what is a daughter to say about a mother getting involved in a dangerous sport? “I thought she was nuts. I thought she would break a hip,” Demi said without hesitation. She also confessed that her mother was athletic all her life, so it wasn’t too much of a scare. However, it had been a while since Demi had seen Mama do anything quite like roller derby. “I knew once she got into [that] she’d be able to do it, but I did think she was crazy. I still think she’s crazy.” Crazy or not, both Demi and Mama have shown to be great athletes and amazingly dedicated to the sport. Both ladies helped to start leagues in their area, and both helped to lead their teams to bigger and better things. They’ve both shown a love for derby that most of us can relate to.
Demi told FRACTURE just what it was that she fell in love with. “I was just saying the other day that it’s absolutely insane that you have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of women that pay money every month to play. They have to buy their own equipment; they have to pay their own way to get to where they’re going. You go somewhere and you get the crap kicked out of you, and you still have to do it. And you still have to do it; you can’t stop because you love it so much. It’s a great feeling to win or lose with your team, as long as it’s with your team, and I think that’s my favorite part.”
In agreement, Mama tells us that her love stretches out to the incredible indiscrimination that has allowed her to play roller derby. “The fact that I can get out there and play a sport even at my age, and have fun at it, and be very competitive [is my favorite part]. If the body holds out and everything, take it to the next level, and go as far as you want to with this sport.” She goes on to tell us, “I just love that we can, like [Demi] said, get out there and beat the crap out of each other, yell and scream at each other on the track, but the minute the game is over, you’re just going, ‘That was a great hit. Man, you knocked me five feet,’ or ‘you know what, that’s one of the best jams I’ve ever seen.’”
What does it really feel like to go up against your mother, you ask? Well, we also wondered how this 31 year old sports bar manager felt about challenging her 49 year old office manager mother to a derby duel. “I’m excited. I’m really excited. It’s been something that’s been discussed for the last two years, since she started skating. It’s an experience that pretty much no one else will be able to have. So, it’s going to be an exciting game. Daughter gets to give mother a nice mother’s day present.” Both Demi and Mama agree that they will be laughing all the time, knowing that while the competition is real, it will probably be a little awkward hitting each other.
Mama tells us, “It’s exciting. It’s tough. All of my girls keep saying, ‘how are you going to feel if you watch me just hit [Demi] hard?’ On the track she’s a competitor. She’s my daughter, I love her, I don’t want to see anything broken, I want to see her hit the floor…but I don’t want to see it broken. It’s gonna be tough, I think the first couple of times, I see it, I’ll kind of wince. You know but hey, this is derby. We’re out to win. Both teams are out to win. So we’re going to give it everything we got.” Both teams gave it everything and that’s exactly how the game went down.
Demi lined up against Mama as a jammer a couple times throughout the game. They showed similar athleticism and pulled out some interesting stats: Demi scored 30 points, while Mama was close behind with 20. In the end, the Atlanta Rollergirls’ Denim Demons claimed victory over the Inland Empire Derby Divas 138-59. The game was quite exciting and everyone was celebrating that Mother’s Day on May 11th, 2008 with Demi and Mama cheering and hollering the whole time. The audience watched as mom took on daughter and as daughter beat on mom, but every minute was nail biting and derby worthy.
“Even if, God forbid something should happen to somebody, or our league doesn’t go as far as we’d like to; we’re in the history books,” says Mama. “We’re going to make the history books. Even if only one little blurb, we’re going to be there. That’s all that matters, you know. And each person in this life, you got one shot at making history, this is it.” So whether it’s in the small derby history book that is placed high up on the shelf, or whether it becomes a huge page for Wikipedia, this will definitely be the first time that anyone has been able to tell their mother in a loving manner, “You’re going down!”