Kickin' Butt with Erie Roller Derby
I used to watch roller derby on TV when I was a kid. I didn't understand the rules so much, but I loved the excitement. And now, it's time to recapture that excitement right here in Erie.
It's a Roller Derby Saturday Night at the Bayfront Convention Center. The roller derby I used to watch on TV was scripted. The action you see at the convention center is real competition. Here's how the game works. There's two teams. Each team has a speedy skater called a jammer. You can identify the jammers by the star on their helmets. The jammer scores points by skating past opposing players called blockers. It's a strategic game where you must play offense and defense at the same time.
"So, the idea is you want to get as many points as you can as the jammer and try to restrict the other jammer from getting points,” says Coach Erin Witherow.
"As a blocker, your job is not just to defend, or in other words, to stop the other jammer, but also to play offense and help your jammer through. You need to switch back and forth between that a lot,” adds Coach Meredith Goldie.
Kacie Zadorozny is a jammer whose roller derby name is "Scooter." She tried out for the team this year. She had not skated since she was a youngster.
"I walked in completely blind. I didn't have anything. I didn't have skates. I didn't have pads. I had nothing,” remembers Kacie.
Kacie now is speeding through blockers, doing all she can to score points for Erie.
"You have to have to look at it and be like, 'How can I get through this wall right now?’ And then use quick thinking to get through,” she says.
Jillian Rhen is a librarian who played the French horn in high school and college. She's now a tough roller derby blocker who practices twice a week with her teammates at Presque Isle Roller Rink.
"It makes so much more sense once you get to play,” says Jillian. “I know when I first started and I was unsteady on my skates, I was like, 'Can I actually do this?"
"It's nice,” says Courtney Mealy, one of the veteran skaters. “It's neat to be uplifted by your team and to find that deep down athlete that's inside of you that you might not have known you had."
Hannah Brewer has always been an athlete. She kicked butt at Erie’s last home bout, blocking many opposing skaters to the floor.
"It's right up my alley. I grew up playing softball. I wanted something a little more physical to play. So I chose roller derby,” says Hannah.
The fans love Erie Roller Derby as much as the players. They circle the track and roar with each hard block and each point scored. Summer is Roller Derby Time in Erie. You have to see it to believe it.
The next bout for Erie Roller Derby is this coming Saturday, August 19 at the Bayfront Convention Center. The action begins at 7 p.m. Also, the team is hosting an 8-week skate camp beginning September 18. Team members will teach people how to skate and will also teach the fundamentals of roller derby. To find out how to enroll, log on to the Erie Roller Derby Facebook page or its web site erierollerderby.com.