NAUGATUCK — At a CT RollerGirls roller derby bout, fast-paced action and bone-crushing hits collide with the feeling of helping a non-profit organization.
Roller derby is a sport played on roller skates with 10 skaters, five from each team, on the floor. Each team consists of four blockers and one jammer. The jammer’s job is to pass the opposing team’s blockers and the blockers’ job is to prevent that from happening.
For each opposing blocker the jammer passes, the team scores a point.
A roller derby bout is 60 minutes long, broken into two, 30-minute halves. The halves are broken into two-minute-long jams.
“It’s like organized chaos. There’s strategy behind it all. I remember watching football for the first time when I was younger and seeing everybody just falling on each other … it’s like that. There’s tons of contact. A lot of people probably just think we are falling on each other, maybe intentionally, but there really is reason behind the madness,” said Litchfield resident Kathleen Ebner, who skates under the name Ebolution.
Jill Vidal, of Shelton, who skates under the name Girl Fawkes, feels roller derby is more than just a game.
“It’s a sport. It’s a lifestyle. It’s good times,” Vidal said. “You have hockey style kind of hits, like in football you have strategy and plays you use. You have five girls on the floor, offense and defense at the same time.”
The CT RollerGirls is a Naugatuck Valley roller derby league based out of Naugatuck.
The league, which is skater-owned, was founded in 2006 as a non-profit organization.
Since they are a non-profit, the CT RollerGirls give back to the community. The league recently hosted a 5K race and fundraiser for The One Step Ahead Foundation, which is dedicated to giving children with physical disabilities positive experiences through sports to build confidence, courage, and friendship, increase self-esteem, and create a better sense of self-worth. The league also gave out the first CT RollerGirls Cindy Luberto Scholarship for Woman Athletes this year.
The league consists of five teams — three home teams as well as two travel teams. The ladies play on both the home and away teams.
The home teams are the Bone Crushers, Iron Angels, and Widowmakers. Home matches exclusively feature bouts between the CT RollerGirls and are more akin to scrimmages.
The away teams — the Stepford Sabotage and the Yankee Brutals — travel around the country playing in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.
Currently the Sabotage’s record is 5-5, while the Brutals are 2-8.
Although the ladies are broken into teams that play against each other, part of the RollerGirls’ mission statement is to instill a sense of family, loyalty, hard work, and competitiveness in all of its skaters.
According to Ebner and Vidal, playing for the RollerGirls has done that for them.
“It’s unlike any other team sport. It takes a lot of cooperation and skill. The bond I have with the ladies is unlike anything I’ve had before,” said Ebner, who works as a physical education teacher at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls.
Ebner took some time off from the sport recently because it was time consuming. However, she couldn’t stay away for long.
“This past year it’s really brought me a lot closer to a lot of girls who I would probably never even have a relationship with, because we come from all different walks of life, all different jobs, family backgrounds, from all over the state. So, the relationships with my teammates are really, really special,” Ebner said.
Vidal tried out for the team in January 2007, when it was still forming.
“When we first started, it was very DIY [do it yourself]. Everything is still run by the skaters. It was girls running the entire business and punk rock music,” Vidal said. “Roller derby is not just the game, it’s the entire culture. You have this thing in common with people. I know people I wouldn’t have met because of roller derby.”
Vidal said being part of the RollerGirls has had a positive impact on her life.
“It has made me more outgoing. I’m definitely more athletic that I was,” Vidal said. “It made me want to go back to school because of the influences from my league mates. I didn’t want to put it off any longer.”
Last Thursday the Rollergirls held a bootcamp at Roller Magic in Waterbury for girls interested in playing the sport. Approximately 20 girls showed up for the bootcamp, including Chelsea Duarte of Milford.
“I’ve always wanted to join roller derby for years,” Duarte said. “I said this is the year, so I decided to do it.”
The CT RollerGirls next home match is Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Connecticut Sports Center, 21 South Bradley Road, Woodbridge. The Ct RollerGirls will be holding tryouts for anyone interested in joining the league Sunday at Roller Magic. Preregistration is required to tryout. To register, e-mail email@example.com. For more information on the Ct RollerGirls, visit www.ctrollerderby.com.