Bennington Banner Sports:
On Saturday, April 18, Southshire Roller Derby’s women’s travel team, the Battle Cats, heads to Windsor, Connecticut to take on the Beat City Bedrockers of Hartford Area Roller Derby.
After more than a year of recruiting and training, the Bennington-based Battle Cats are ready to begin their first competitive season on the road.
During 2015 they will compete in three more away games and three home games expected to be held at Riley Rink in Manchester Center.
Hartford Area Roller Derby was established in 2011 and has grown significantly over the years. In 2013, they became full members of the Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Association, the world’s largest governing body of roller derby.
While their travel team, the Wailers, play sanctioned WFTDA games, the Bedrockers are their B-team.
The Bedrockers schedule games with newer teams like the Battle Cats and other regional B-teams to improve their skills and work toward the experience and ability found in WFTDA sanctioned play.
According to Flat Track Stats, the Bedrockers are ranked 916th in the United States and 1084 in North America.
Southshire Roller Derby co-founders Amy Moore and Bear Goldberg have more than 15 years of roller derby experience competing, coaching, and officiating.
“After seven years of commuting to leagues in Albany, North Hampton, and Keene, I was ready to settle down and train a new generation of skaters at home. Bennington seemed ready.” Goldberg moved to the area in 2013 from New Jersey where she skated for Garden State Rollergirls and officiated for the New Jersey Hellrazors.
“Bennington has been a great place to start a new league,” says Goldberg. “The skaters that make up the Southshire league are some of the most dedicated people I know. They bring great heart to the track and work hard both in and out of practice.”
Today’s roller derby is a full-contact sport played on a flat track with quad roller skates. Skaters wear protective gear similar to that of skateboarding. The 60 minute game is divided into short competitions called jams.
Teams play five skaters from their roster of up to 14 in each jam; four of them are blockers and one is a jammer.
The jammers score points by lapping the group of 8 blockers, picking up a point for each opponent they pass during the lap. Blockers work together to impede the progress of the opposing jammer via walls, pushes, and body checks (called blocks) while aiding their own jammer with whips and assists.
With both teams fielding a jammer, the simultaneous offense and defense makes for a highly strategic and competitive game.
“Roller derby can be confusing to watch the first time you’re introduced to it,” explains co-Captain Renee Tower.
“But the chess-like moves of the game are what makes it so great. Of course, it’s also really fun to be able to crash into people and skate!” Tower wears the number 13 for the Battle Cats and skates under the moniker Roxy Slaughter.
“The names help us transition from our daily lives into hard-hitting, athletic women and remind us that derby is fun,” she says.
For their three home dates, July 11, September 5, and September 26, Southshire Roller Derby has arranged for the Capital District Men’s Roller Derby team, the Capital District Trauma Authority to play making all home dates double headers.
“The men play by exactly the same rules on exactly the same track. Fans will be in for a treat with the physicality of the men’s game,” explains Mrs. Moore. “Southshire would also like to develop a men’s team with skaters in Bennington. We have a great arrangement with the men from Albany to work with our skaters.”
The league holds monthly recruit nights at their practice space in Bennington, open to men and women 18 and over. No prior skating experience is necessary.
The coaches first teach basic skating and safety skills before moving on to game play and full contact training. The next new skater orientation night is Thursday, April 23 at 6pm.
The roller derby community is known for being very inclusive. Athletes of many shapes, sizes, ages and experience levels compete on teams all over the world. Southshire skaters currently range in age from mid twenties to almost 60.
Their previous athletic backgrounds run the gamut from national gold medal winners to self proclaimed couch potatoes.
The Battle Cats and Bedrockers will meet a second time this season at Southshire’s home venue, Riley Rink in Manchester Center September 26.
Visit SouthshireRollerDerby.com for more information.