FULTONDALE, Ala. (WIAT) – Amid the clicks and clack of roller skates and blaring top 40 music, you can make out a distinct laugh. Angela Roper Seale is joking around with her Tragic City Rollers teammates as she puts on her plastic armor and ties her laces adorned with a lightning bolt. “It was glittery and I thought I had to have it,” laughed Seale, derby name “Panama Jack You Up.” Seale acknowledged the flash of yellow is not necessarily indicative of her speed on skates. “If I’m going fast it’s because the floor is really slippery and I can’t stop,” she grinned.
The Tragic City Rollers is a Birmingham-based roller derby team that competes throughout the summer. TCR is comprised of women from ages 19 to 45. “It’s a lot of fun. It gets me out of the house,” explained Panama Jack You Up, or “PJ” for short. “It keeps me off the couch, it keeps me moving.”
Roller derby is more than a sport for PJ, though. Ten years ago, at the age of 28, Seale was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Her father also had the disease. “Nobody dies from MS. They die from complications caused by MS,” said Seale. One of the most debilitating symptoms of the disease is its unpredictability. MS can flair up after several years of not showing signs. When it does rear its ugly head it can affect vision, motor skills, and sensory feelings. Seale said she’s personally experienced double vision, fatigue, and muscle spasticity, among other symptoms.
As she knelt in the plank position during the conditioning portion of practice, its obvious Seale won’t let her diagnosis keep her from living life to the fullest. In fact, roller derby helps stave off MS by keeping her mind active and her body moving. “I feel like as long as I keep going, I’ll prolong that [having to quit],” she emphasized. “It would be really easy to just stop and just feel sorry for myself, but I’m just not that kind of person.”
Panama Jack You Up and the rest of the Tragic City Rollers will hit the track for their next bout on July 9th against the Chattanooga Roller Girls at 7:00pm. All bouts take place at Zamora Shrine Temple.