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Lady Bisons inspired by intensity of roller derby

Tuesday, August 20, 2013
by Mark McGee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Fireball, Along Comes Molly, Built Ford Tuff.

Don’t recognize those names on the Lipscomb volleyball roster for 2013? Well, maybe you know them better as Caitlin “Dot” Dotson, Molly Spitznagle and Lauren Ford.

What about those other names? Well, they were inspired by an afternoon spent watching the Nashville Rollergirls roller derby team work out downtown at the Municipal Auditorium. All of the Rollergirls have nicknames so the volleyball players decided they needed new names as well.

For most of the Lady Bisons the practice session was their first exposure to roller derby. Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal, who spent part of his life on the West Coast, was a little more familiar with the sport.

Rosenthal is amused by the nicknames, but he had a reason for the practice visit. Aggressiveness is a buzz word for the Lady Bisons this fall and it is difficult to find a sport that is more aggressive than roller derby.

“They are some tough ladies,” Ford said. “The aggression they had really showed their passion for their sport.

“Whether they were new at it, and just learning, or veteran players they want to be involved. They want to be a part of a team. They want to make their team win.”

Ford thinks that the Lady Bisons got the message of how aggressiveness can work to their advantage.

“Why can’t we beat up on the other team when we are on the court?” Ford asked. “We can hit harder. We can run down more balls. We can just want it more than the other team. That is a lot of what the roller derby girls were showing us.”

Rosenthal got some quizzical looks when he told his players they would be attending a roller derby practice.

“It was a really unique experience,” Ford said. “We had heard it was a bunch of tough girls beating each other up on roller skates. We didn’t know what to expect.

“It was really cool to see there were rules about how to hit people and why they were hitting people. There is rhyme and reason to it. It was cool to hop into their world and see what it was all about.”

Another area that Rosenthal is stressing this season is to have his players be more vocal on the court. Spitznagle listened to how the Rollergirls use verbal communication while they are skating.

“They hold each other accountable,” Spitznagle said. “They are constantly talking to each other. They are very verbal.

“We are holding each other accountable in practice so Brandon doesn’t have to get on our backs as much. It was good to see other people doing it, especially in another sport. It was good to see that it works. It is a real effective way of doing things.”

Spitznagle was also impressed by the intensity of the skaters.

“A lot of them have kids and real jobs,” Spitznagle said. “I walked away with a lot of competitiveness. They are very competitive. They really go at each other.

“They are very hard core intense all the time. That really does translate well to us because we are the same way. That is what Brandon expects from us all the time in practice, matches and everything we do.”

Dotson also pointed to the way the players were individually accountable in order to make the team successful.

“It related very well to volleyball,” Dotson said. “Within the team you have to do your job. In roller derby you want to be the best blocker or jammer. You are pushing yourself individually and you know what you have to do. But if you are the jammer you have to rely on your team to block if you are going to be successful.

“They were pretty competitive within their own team. They pushed each other. They weren’t afraid to get on each other in order to make each other better which is something we need to work on.  That has been one of our goals that we have been working on since the spring and we have made huge steps in that area.”

Dotson also liked the way the players did not waste a single second during their practice drills.

“They went for two minutes at a time and they went all out for those two minutes,” Dotson said. “They knew they had to give it their all for 120 seconds.

“They did not let down. That is something everybody can learn from.”