A local roller girl crosses boundaries in new reality show
The Fox television network is the home of reality competitions such as American Idol, So You Think You Dance and MasterChef. But instead of singing, dancing or cooking, the newest reality show, American Grit, is about contestants increasing their heart rate through rigorous obstacle courses and military-like fitness training to win cash.
Hosted by WWE superstar John Cena and premiering on Thursday, April 14th, contestants that will be put to the test include a former Olympic trainer, a Boston cop, weight-lifters, and a Chattanooga Roller Girl.
Yup, you read right. A local roller girl will be a contestant on the show, so get out the pompoms as she competes with the best. Tabatha Chandler, born and raised in Chattanooga, tells us how it started. From the roller girls to military trainee, she gives us her full story.
It started last year. Tabatha and her grandma would occasionally watch the Chattanooga Roller Girls. She always thought they were cool, she stated and when an opportunity opened up, she tried out and was thus known as Goldie Knocks #5. Joining the Roller Girls was time for herself after her children graduated high school. She was ready to show Chattanooga and later on, the nation, what she’s made of.
In Tabatha’s words, “If I had not been part of the roller girls, I would have never been part of American Grit.” A fellow roller derby companion shot her the information, but after going through a divorce and losing her sister to Sickle Cell she simply tucked the information away. A short time after her sister’s funeral, the reality show “popped up”. At that moment, she thought, “I might as well try out.”
Being spearheaded by a former Navy Seal, Marine, and Army Ranger was not foreign to Tabatha. In high school she was a member of ROTC and she had plans to go to the military. Although she missed the opportunity, she knew she had what it took to be part of the military. The military inspired competition was her chance to prove something. If her personal problems did not break her, nothing could.
From the questionnaire to the plane ride to LA, the experience was wild. Until the last moment, Tabatha assumed she would be in LA, but things took a sharp turn once she found out Washington State was printed on her itinerary.
Located in a cold, wet and rainy secluded forest for almost two months, the weather and food was the biggest culture shock. However, after chowing down on quinoa and running through mud puddles, she enjoyed every second of it. “I enjoyed being outside my comfort zone,” she said, “Things I thought I would hate, I enjoyed.”
She always asked, why did they choose me? But it’s clear that her life experience and heart gave her the mental push and drive to compete with others. Most importantly, she wants to show Chattanooga women we can get dirt under our nails, slide into the mud, and be strong and healthy. Sometimes, it’s just okay to get dirty.