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Newly sanctioned Granite State Roller Derby draws area women to the track

  • Granite State All-Star Abby "Belle Dozer" Carter Rodriguez watches her teammates get their gear checked by the refs before the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Granite State All-Star Abby "Belle Dozer" Carter Rodriguez watches her teammates get their gear checked by the refs before the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Granite State All-Star Melanie "Spank Alley Sally" Brodier warms up before the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Granite State All-Star Melanie "Spank Alley Sally" Brodier warms up before the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Granite State All-Star Karen "TazSlamian Devil" Forrest wipes off her wheels before the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Granite State All-Star Karen "TazSlamian Devil" Forrest wipes off her wheels before the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Granite State All-Star Essi "Rita Hateworthy" Ršnkkš talks strategy with her teammates while wearing the jammer helmet during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Granite State All-Star Essi "Rita Hateworthy" Ršnkkš talks strategy with her teammates while wearing the jammer helmet during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Granite State All-Star Karen "TazSlamian Devil" breaks through the blockers to score points during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Granite State All-Star Karen "TazSlamian Devil" breaks through the blockers to score points during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Granite State All-Star Essi "Rita Hateworthy" Ršnkkš watches a jam during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Granite State All-Star Essi "Rita Hateworthy" Ršnkkš watches a jam during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Granite State All-Stars Alyssa "Angie O'Nasty" McClary (left) hold hands with Essi "Rita Hateworthy" Ršnkkš (center) and Rebecca "Maple Stir-Up" Karp while blocking during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Granite State All-Stars Alyssa "Angie O'Nasty" McClary (left) hold hands with Essi "Rita Hateworthy" Ršnkkš (center) and Rebecca "Maple Stir-Up" Karp while blocking during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Granite State All-Star Alyson "Silver Cyanide" Geary cheers with her teammates before the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Granite State All-Star Alyson "Silver Cyanide" Geary cheers with her teammates before the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Granite State All-Star Alison Murphy tries to break through the blockers during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Granite State All-Star Alison Murphy tries to break through the blockers during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Meagan "Slammin Doherty" Currier rewrites Alyssa "Angie O'Nasty" McClary's number on her arm during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Meagan "Slammin Doherty" Currier rewrites Alyssa "Angie O'Nasty" McClary's number on her arm during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • The Granite State All-Stars embrace after winning their bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    The Granite State All-Stars embrace after winning their bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Granite-State All Stars Joanna "Em Bomber" Trottier (center, left) hugs Roxanne "Rabid Ruby" McCaig after they won the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Granite-State All Stars Joanna "Em Bomber" Trottier (center, left) hugs Roxanne "Rabid Ruby" McCaig after they won the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Samantha Dery, 8, smiles at her mom Kim while getting Granite State All-Star Melanie "Spank Alley Sally" Brodier's autograph after the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Samantha Dery, 8, smiles at her mom Kim while getting Granite State All-Star Melanie "Spank Alley Sally" Brodier's autograph after the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Granite State All-Star Abby "Belle Dozer" Carter Rodriguez watches her teammates get their gear checked by the refs before the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Granite State All-Star Melanie "Spank Alley Sally" Brodier warms up before the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Granite State All-Star Karen "TazSlamian Devil" Forrest wipes off her wheels before the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Granite State All-Star Essi "Rita Hateworthy" Ršnkkš talks strategy with her teammates while wearing the jammer helmet during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Granite State All-Star Karen "TazSlamian Devil" breaks through the blockers to score points during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Granite State All-Star Essi "Rita Hateworthy" Ršnkkš watches a jam during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Granite State All-Stars Alyssa "Angie O'Nasty" McClary (left) hold hands with Essi "Rita Hateworthy" Ršnkkš (center) and Rebecca "Maple Stir-Up" Karp while blocking during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Granite State All-Star Alyson "Silver Cyanide" Geary cheers with her teammates before the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Granite State All-Star Alison Murphy tries to break through the blockers during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Meagan "Slammin Doherty" Currier rewrites Alyssa "Angie O'Nasty" McClary's number on her arm during the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • The Granite State All-Stars embrace after winning their bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Granite-State All Stars Joanna "Em Bomber" Trottier (center, left) hugs Roxanne "Rabid Ruby" McCaig after they won the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Samantha Dery, 8, smiles at her mom Kim while getting Granite State All-Star Melanie "Spank Alley Sally" Brodier's autograph after the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014.<br/> <br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

Cutcake. Rabid Ruby. Spank Alley Sally. Rita Hateworthy.

The names are printed in block letters on the backs of their jerseys and typed neatly below their pictures in the program.

But underneath the hype and the helmets, the 42 skaters in the Granite State Roller Derby are female athletes – and they are demanding legitimacy. The women say they are part of the fastest-growing sport in the world, and the Concord-based league is now an official member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, the sport’s international governing body.

“We’re ambitious,” skater Roxanne “Rabid Ruby” McCaig said about the dream of future championships. She

was on the sidelines Saturday as the Granite State Roller Derby All-Star team beat the Central New York Roller Derby All-Stars, 145-85, at the Everett Arena.

“Realistically, (the championships are) years away for us, but how many? That’s the question,” she added.

When she first heard about roller derby, McCaig said she never thought she would lace up her skates to compete.

“I was looking for a Halloween costume,” she said.

Instead, she found a team.

“It was this amazing tribe of women that was empowering and bringing out the best in each other,” said McCaig, who, off the track, works in marketing and advertising for The Hippo.

As she stood near the bench Saturday, she pointed down to a few of her fellow skaters who range in age from 20s to 50s and represent a range of careers.

“We’ve got nurses, a biologist, a funeral director, a photographer,” McCaig said, ticking them off down the line on the bench.

The Granite State Roller Derby started in 2010, and at the end of last year became sanctioned by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. To do so, the local league had to spend more than a year in an apprenticeship program to learn the requirements of being a full member. Now as an official member, the league also must be owned and managed in majority by league skaters, as well as practice a certain number of hours a week.

But for the league’s members, the hard work – and play – is worth it.

One of the founding members, Karen “TazSlamian Devil” Forrest was recruited at a backyard barbecue while living in Washington, D.C.

“It’s like my new religion,” said Forrest, 32.

Forrest, or “Taz,” and team President Melody “Spank Alley Sally” Brodier sat in the bleachers at the Everett Arena on Saturday, stopping for a moment before they went to warm up for the All-Stars bout.

Brodier, 38, joined the league and then started Spank Alley Skate & Board Shop in Concord in 2011. “This group of women is exceptional,” she said.

Each team has five skaters on the track – one jammer and four blockers. The jammers score points by passing blockers from the opposing team as they all circle the track. Each “jam” lasts up to 2 minutes, and each bout is made up of two 30-minute halves.

Seven referees skated near the track once the whistle blew to start play, watching for points and penalties. Throw an elbow in the middle of the pack; expect a 30-second timeout.

“And that was easy,” the announcer shouted as skater Essi “Rita Hateworthy” Rönkkö broke through the other team’s blockers and left them in the wake of her red ponytail.

After the bout, Rönkkö sat on the concrete track and autographed a little girl’s program. “Skating is the most fun in the world,” the 33-year-old former ice hockey player told her.

Rönkkö now works as an art curator at Dartmouth and began playing roller derby for the Upper Valley Vixens in 2011. She drives south to Concord for practice three times a week.

“It totally sucks you in,” she said.

Last fall, she traveled to Dallas to try out for Finland’s national roller derby team. She had looked up the team shortly after she laced on her roller skates for the first time, and soon, she’ll know whether she made the cut to play for her native country.

“I’ll find out next week,” Rönkkö said.

Other skaters, such as Abby “Cutcake” Anderson, skate on one of the Granite State Roller Derby’s two home teams, which don’t travel to competitions like the All-Stars do. She works in sales for a wine distributor, and she joined the roller derby team while her motorcycle was broken.

“I was like, ‘What can I do to get on wheels?’ ” she said.

The two home teams – the Demolition Dames and the Fighting Finches – faced each other after the All-Star bout Saturday. It was Anderson’s first match because she had to pass a series of skill assessments before she was allowed to compete. She learned to skate, to fall, and to hit and be hit before she could pull her blond hair into pigtails and put on her black-and-green Demolition Dames jersey Saturday.

“They want you to be safe,” she said.

Anderson, 31, has been a lifelong athlete – and she was adamant that roller derby, too, is a sport, and it’s undervalued.

“I think they have a misconception that it’s dangerous or reckless when in reality the sport has become more serious and less about personalities or staged drama,” she said.

She had wide eyes this weekend, standing near the “crash zone” – marked off with a sign that read, “Sit here at your own risk” – before the bout. She had been waiting for this, for the chance to walk into the locker room and get back on wheels for her first competition.

“This is the moment,” she said.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

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