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Charlotte Roller Girls Trade a Little Flair for Physician's Aid

The Charlotte Roller Girls

The surging popularity of roller derby has helped Charlotte's Roller Girls attract a major new sponsor with an ironic connection to the team. WFAE's Julie Rose has the story: Roller derby is rowdy with women on skates - often wearing short skirts - speeding around a small track and slamming into each other full-force. The women do wear helmets and pads on their elbows and knees, but injuries are common: "Mostly joint injuries and certainly the occasional fracture," says Emily Kupprion, president of the Charlotte Roller Girls. "You know those things happen with a full contact support." Kupprion has injured her shoulder twice on the track. The team's newest sponsor - and most significant to date - should be able to help with that. Local orthopedic clinic OrthoCarolina has committed an undisclosed sum to be the team's official physician. "In that capacity we will have either an orthopedic surgeon or a physician's assistant with orthopedic training on site for all of their bouts," says OrthoCarolina marketing director Blair Primis. Kupprion says her teammates have often joked OrthoCarolina should be a sponsor since they've almost all paid the clinic a visit with a roller derby injury. Now OrthoCarolina's logo will be emblazoned in the center of the track and on players' helmets. That's a bit sticky, since roller girls like to make a statement with stickers and paint on their helmets. Individual expression is a big part of the sport's allure for players and fans. Kupprion, though, isn't upset to give it up. "But you know, I was a college athlete," says Kupprion. "I'm used to this kind of situation and I think that it's fantastic. Maybe if it was a different sponsor, people would not be so excited about the helmet sponsor. But I haven't heard a lot of discontent at all." Still, helmet sponsorships are rare in the roller derby world, because teams with a rebellious identity don't want to look like sell-outs. But few of them have found a sponsor that makes as much sense as OrthoCarolina does to the Charlotte Roller Girls who are, after all, often in need of a little patching up after they play. The Charlotte Roller Girls kick off their home season March 6th at the Grady Cole Center.