The Best of Savannah

Best Athlete

Hello Kidney, Savannah Derby Devils

Ever since the Savannah Derby Devils rolled into town in 2006, this city has been an edgier, less gentle place—in the best of ways.

The woman-positive sport of flat-track roller derby found a legion of budding athletes ready to rumble in ripped fishnet stockings, and the team and its dedicated fans outgrew the old Supergoose for the Civic Center in 2011. Now ranked by the national Women’s Flat Track Derby Association league, our own roller derby queens will host their first big deal tournament, The Savannah Summer Slam, June 18-19.

SDD’s All Stars set the bar for its B team as well as its breathtakingly badass underage line-up, the mighty Savannah Jr. Derbytaunts (a raucous play on “debutantes,” get it?!) Any female looking to skate with the big girls can start with the weekly wRECk league or, if you really want to feel the pain, the Devils’ annual boot camp.

That’s where this year’s Best Athlete Hello Kidney first hip-checked her way into the league in 2011. Small, compact and blazing fast on wheels, Kidney has risen through the ranks to become one of the All Star team’s finest jammers.

Originally from Palatka, FL, the former high school semi-jock grew up playing in the bleachers as her father coached almost every sport.

“I always secretly wanted to play football,” she says with a grin as she describes settling for soccer instead.

“What I lacked in skill, I made up for in aggression.”

Like many derby women, she loved roller skating as a kid, though she was one of the rarities who didn’t give in to changing trends.

“All my friends got into rollerblading, but I kept my skates. I’d go out with them, looking like a dorky champ.”

That commitment paid off when she was recruited to the team. Super disciplined during the season–she cut out sugar last year and plans to abstain from alcohol this turn—Hello Kidney rarely misses a three-time-a-week practice and cross trains regularly with weights and running.

In real life, however, this dedicated, daunting competitor with the Joan Jett eyeliner is the mild-mannered Ginny Clagett, a work-at-home mother of four, ages 8 and under. While the ruckus and rampage of roller derby might be intimidating for some, it’s practically a picnic compared to her full house.

“Hello Kidney can actually be nicer than my mom persona,” she laughs.

While she’s had to take time off over the years for a broken wrist and the pregnancy and birth of her youngest—what derby women refer to as “the nine-month injury”—the various bumps and bruises she’s suffered have only made Hello Kidney stronger, fiercer and ready to lap the competition.

“My shins are permanently lumpy, but I don’t care,” she says with a shrug.

“They’re my battle scars, and I love them.” Jessica Leigh Lebos

Runner up: SDD’s Felony Melanie

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