Roller Derby is alive and well in Lancaster

By on October 1, 2014

Come out and support a local sports team this weekend at Overlook Activities Center. The all-girls Duchland Roller Derby team will compete at home on Saturday night. There are VIP and general admission tickets available, and the event is a fundraiser for domestic violence. Learn more about the fastest growing sport in America and check out their upcoming schedule.

 

Dutchland Roller Derby

As someone fell on the skating rink during practice, the entire derby team got down on one knee and waited. Watching as a team member helped up the fallen girl, the team stayed true to derby tradition by remaining on their knees until they were sure she was okay. This is an example of how the Dutchland Roller Derby team creates a positive environment for women, offering them empowerment and support while giving to their community and functioning on the belief that all people should be treated equally.

The Dutchland Roller Derby team is an all-girls group based out of Lancaster County. Formed in 2005, the original founders were discussing over drinks different ways to get out and do something active when a passer-by in the bar suggested roller derby. The ladies found their way to the skating rink for the first time in over a decade, and learning to function again on eight wheels. The rest is history.

Today the derby team has over 55 members, donates to the community by making every home bout a fundraiser, and stays true to the original goal to have fun. There are three teams — A, B and C, depending on skill level.

It is common for derby members to have nicknames. Derby member Stacey Sockel explained this tradition as representing their alter-ego on the track.

“We have people who are doctors, teachers, waitresses, and then they come out here and are like, ‘Ahhh,’” said Sockel, growling to emphasis the aggressive sport. “You do this by day, but at 9:30 at night you do roller derby.”

Practicing for their home bout at Overlook Activities Center on Oct. 4 at 6 p.m., the A team will challenge the Connecticut Rollergirls. With the Dutchland All-Stars currently ranked 101 and the Connecticut Rollergirls ranking at 103 in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, it should be a close a match. Following this bout, the C team, Orange Crush, will challenge The Finger Lakes Lunachicks. Bouts are typically an hour and a half and are kid friendly. This bout will raise money for the Domestic Violence Services of Lancaster County.

At the beginning of the season team members suggest places to donate money in the community by writing why they think it is a good idea. After that, everyone votes and each home bout donates to a different cause.

“A lot of them have something to do with girls ­ children and women,” said Sockel.

The game is played with jammers and blockers. Jams last about two minutes, and during this time the jammers are shoving through the blockers to get around the track. As Sockel described it, they are racing through “an obstacle course with human obstacles.” The jammers are identified by their stars and the blockers wear stripes. To score they have to legally pass their opponents. For each person passed, they get a point.

Although it may look like a group of women shoving each other around, it is not a free-for-all.

“There’s a lot of rules to make it a sport,” said Sockel.

One of the founding league members, known as “Treasure Chest” on the track and Sarah Sarro during the day, explained the safety precautions taken. All of the girls are required to wear a helmet, wrist guards, elbow and knee pads, and a mouth guard. They also go through physical conditioning to help prepare them for the game.

With girls of all different ages participating in the fastest growing sport in America, the youngest girl on the Dutchland Derby team is 24 and the oldest is in her late forties. They have a minimum age limit of 18, but there is no limit as far as the other end of the spectrum.

“We’ve had a couple gals in their fifties before and they usually do pretty well,” said Treasure Chest.

Margaret Ketchersid, owner of Blue Planet Massage Therapy on Highlands Drive in Lititz goes by “Ann Slanders” on the track. She got into roller derby after reading an article online called, “Older Women of Roller Derby.” She learned how to skate during her tryout, but got injured when she was still a “skater tot,” which is what they call players before they are placed on a team. Now she is a non-skating official, and this year she is a bench coach. This is something that she loves about the Dutchland Derbies — even if you can’t, or don’t, want to skate, you can still be involved.

Two members of the Dutchland Rollers work to thwart the opposing team’s jammer. (Photo by Jim Rhoades)

Two members of the Dutchland Rollers work to thwart the opposing team’s jammer. (Photo by Jim Rhoades)

“Dutchland is such a welcoming place for people,” Ketchersid said. “Someday I’d like to try and skate again.”

“I saw the movie Whip It,” chimed in Samantha Rogers of Lititz. “I thought, I have to do this and get my aggression out.”

Known as “White Winged Shove” on the track, Rogers’ derby name was inspired by the song “Edge of Seventeen.”

“I am a big Stevie Nicks fan,” Rogers explained.

Working as a pharmacy tech and a musician, she has songs for sale on iTunes. She plays guitar and sings, and has an upcoming set in Lititz at Dragonfly Café.

“K-T Boundary” or Kate Bresaw, also of Lititz, said she fell in love with roller derby during her time attending graduate school in North Carolina. She joined the league in 2008. During the day she uses her sustainable agriculture degree working for the conservation district as an Agriculture Conservation Tech.

“Some people are just naturals,” said Bresaw. “They have a sick talent and they can put skates on and go.”

It wasn’t that way for her. In fact, most girls join the team with minimal or no skating skills.

All of the girls agreed that derby occupies a lot of their time and that most of their friends are derby girls. There are no contracts but they are required to attend so many practices per month. The team has traveled as far as Montreal and Indiana. Their next bout after their Oct. 4 home challenge will be in Asheville, N.C. They have to raise their own money to travel so they consider things like, how long do they want to be away and how much do they want to pay?

Bouts usually attract between 500-800 people. There are VIP and general admission tickets available for Oct. 4. General admission ticket holders should bring folding chairs to the event. The concession stands at Overlook are open, and there is always a raffle. It could include things donated from sponsors such as a massage certificate or “a bunch of Dutchland schwag,” said Bresaw.

At the end of their practice, the girls lined up in a row across the center of the track. One girl, separated from the rest, skated down the line in front of her peers. Each girl reached out and smacked her on the butt. Their laughter echoed across the empty skating venue as they did their traditional “birthday spanks.” Some skated around a little before making their way off of the track.

“That’s a big part of why we do this” said Treasure Chest. “Just loving to skate.”

Upcoming Matches: Oct. 4 at 6 p.m.; Nov. 15 at 6 p.m.

Ticket Prices: VIP: $15; General Admission: $12

Lenay Ruhl is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at lenay.ruhl@gmail.com.

About

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *