The East Texas Bombers is a roller derby team stationed in Lufkin that focuses on supporting and bringing awareness to military and veteran issues by working to advocate on behalf of veterans, ensuring that they are respected for their service.
They provide outreach by participating at the Piney Woods Fair at the KTRE booth to collect cans for the canned food drive. They also work with Salvation Animal Rescue and Bags of Love. The team works to help raise awareness for the popular sport and encourages confidence in women by creating a safe space for them.
“The first time I went to SFA I showed up with like firetruck red hair and a bunch of piercings and had a really hard time fitting in because it was a lot more conservative than I expected,” Samantha Brazil, Slaygar Targaryen, a human development and family studies major from Lufkin, said. “Here I can be myself – piercings, tattoos, whatever. We’re really accepting of everybody. If you feel like you haven’t found your home at SFA, but you love the college – roller derby might be a good fit.”
Besides community service, the group works within itself to promote good sportsmanship and women’s empowerment. Because the team is made up of women from all different backgrounds, they each hold a strong dedication to women’s empowerment through roller derby. By using trust and demonstrating mutual respect towards each other, they hope to provide a positive influence on their team and their community.
“We are a sisterhood, so it’s like if I need somebody, I know I can depend on these girls,” Melinda Thompson, Gingersnap, a nursing alumna from Lufkin, said. “It is a lot of fun. It is one of those few sports where you can go, you can knock people down and, then, afterwards we all just go out and hang out. We’re just best friends.”
All of the women advocate for using roller derby as a way of self-expression and stress relief. The ETB accepts any promising member who has a desire to learn how to play the fast-paced sport. The point of roller derby is to keep one of the players from the other team from passing your team and scoring points, making it a high contact sport.
“It’s not like the old-timey WWE style crashing them into the ground,” Jessica Renfroe, Psyblocke, from Lufkin said. “We don’t do bank track – we do flat track derby. We can tape off a floor anywhere, as long as it’s flat.”
Skaters and non-skaters alike come from the Lufkin area and Nacogdoches to participate in the popular female sport. The ETB value new members and welcome them to come to any practice they can.
The group loans out extra gear for up to four free practices and will teach those who can’t skate. All you have to bring is a mouthguard. They practice on Mondays and Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and Sunday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building in Lufkin.