Who we are: Amity Fountain

Published 12:13 am Saturday, August 24, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson


LAPLACE – LaPlace resident Amity Fountain has committed herself to loving, healthy relationship…with roller derby.
She goes by the alias Bonnie Irate. Her player number is 10 1/2, a reference to the female bass player of the punk rock band Black Flag.
“Man, roller derby saved my life,” she said.
Fans and players of the sport will for the most part acknowledge a similar conclusion. Fountain said there’s “a spot for everybody” in the sport.
Many wonder at the fact that the roller derby even exists in this day and age, but the truth is that the sport is bigger now than its ever been. The roller derby revival began as a small, grass-roots effort in the early 2000s, but has since been attributed as “the world’s fastest-growing sport,” with leagues popping in small and large towns all over the world.
Older fans may remember that the sport has roots in flashy, staged productions such as the 60s-era sports spectacle, Roller Games. This version of roller derby was not unlike professional wrestling, with its focus on theatrics. The modern game is not the same as the old days, however. It has experienced several evolutions and rule sets since then, and many players now focus on the sport’s athleticism and intricate strategies.
Fountain learned about the sport from watching a reality television series called “Rollergirls” on A&E but doubted her ability initially.
“I always wanted to be good at sports and stuff, but I watched ‘Star Wars’ and read a lot. I was a nerd. I saw it, and I was like ‘Holy cow! This is something I need to do.’ But I didn’t know how to skate or play sports or anything,” she said.
Fountain said working her way toward being better at something with the camraderie and support of her newfound teamates was a significant experience for her.
“I think roller derby is the only thing I have ever done that I was not good at. And I was terrible. And I’m not great at it now, but I am so much better. I didn’t know how to skate. I didn’t know how to fall. I didn’t know how to run. I had no stamina. And I didn’t know how to work as part of a team,” she said. “It’s pretty wholesome — in a tattoed, punk rock, blue-collar kind of way. It’s very Americana. It’s doesn’t matter what you do for a living. You’re just there to knock people down and drink with them later.”
Eventually, Fountain disregarded her fears and began her first Fresh Meat round, a training period for new players, with The Tragic City Rollers while she lived in Birmingham, Ala. She has been involved with the sport off and on since 2006, though she officially debuted in her first bout season last year. Fountain said her derby career with Tragic City did not take off as she planned because she broke her wrist before she could even play in her first game. After that, Fountain said she fell out of the derby world for several years as she dealt with the diagnosis of two major illnesses: narcolepsy and lupus.
“People think they understand what it’s like to be tired because they get tired everyday. But they don’t understand debilitating fatigue. They don’t understand sleeping for four days straight,” said Fountain.
It was a struggle, but the young woman said she kept going back to the sport because it helped change for the better, both physically and mentally. Even now, finding time for the sport while managing her ailments and hectic schedule is still a feat, but the young woman said the game is more than worth the pain. She currently skates with the Crescent City Derby Devils, a small recreational league in New Orleans.
“I feel great. When I’m rolling good and regularly working out, I take half the medicine. I feel like a totally different person. “(I have) self-confidence, an appreciation for different roles, an altered perception of reality. Things make so much more sense now,” she said.
Fountain will also participate in a mash-up game on Sunday at Skater’s Paradise in Slidell, called Bout 2B Skooled. For more information about the game, visit the event Facebook page at www.facebook.com/events/174360146079095.