Glass City Roller girls ‘whip it’ in ToledoWritten by Alissa Romstadt | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Glass City Rollers prove women can play full-contact sports.
Toledo’s roller derby team is set to compete against the Scream Puffs from the Fox City Foxz league in Green Bay in their first home bout 7 p.m. Oct. 31 at the SeaGate Convention Centre, said Michelle “Vod-Killah” Atkinson.
Vod-Killah has been a member of the team since late 2007.
Mark Moffat worked with the Detroit Derby Girls, while chairing the Old West End’s King Wamba carnival and parade. He said he started recruiting for the Toledo team soon after.
The journey to the first home bout has not been an easy one, Vod-Killah said. First, a core group had to build the business from the ground up.
“We’ve really pulled ourselves up from our bootstraps,” she said.
They are still facing their next challenge: Finding suitable practice space. The Swanton Coliseum Skating Center where they practice is too small and the floor is concrete, making skating much easier than sports-cork-floored competitions, Vod-Killah said.
Team members pay for everything themselves, so rental pricing is an issue, she said.
The players donned their four-wheel speed skates, some for the first time, in 2008. The team follows the guidelines of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), which states they can not be owned by a corporation, Vod-Killah said.
“We are skater-owned, skater-operated,” said Cheryl “No-Holds Barbie” Murphy. In addition to skating, members sit on committees. They market, recruit and raise funds, among other things.
Two nights a week, 23 women break out their best roller derby practice attire, fluorescent leggings and fishnets optional, to hone their skating skills and practice strategies picked up from other teams or the Internet.
For those introduced to roller derby through previews for Drew Barrymore’s movie “Whip It”—- shot in Detroit and featuring Vod- Killah as an extra — Vod-Killah explained the premise.
Each team has four blockers who form a pack and one jammer, who starts behind the pack. As they race around the rink, the pack tries to help their jammer break through, while preventing the other team’s player from passing.
“That’s the simple version,” Vod-Killah said. “There’s about 10 million other things that can happen out there.”
Vod-Killah was hooked to the sport after seeing a Columbus bout. For No-Holds Barbie, it was the Detroit Derby Girls.
Another challenge is picking derby names. No-Holds Barbie said there is a national roster of taken names and rules dictate there can be no duplicates.
“They can’t even be similar or you have to ask the other player for permission,” she said.
The new team is gaining popularity. They have so many potential members they have instituted a “fresh meat” program.
Alexis Mohr is “fresh meat,” she said. New recruits have to sit out for 90 days before making roster. During that time, they must attend 75 percent of practices and meetings or start the process over.
After watching three practices, and with proper equipment and insurance, recruits can practice with the team.
The Glass City Rollers are excited to host a team in Toledo.
“I wanna show Toledo we’re bringing in people from out of town, buying food and buying gas, and we’re doing this all on our own,” Vod-Killah said.
Rental for one night at the SeaGate Centre is about $3,000, so they are relying on ticket sales.
The first bout will highlight Wake up Youth, a charity founded by EleSondra DeRomano, a survivor of teen prostitution who goes out every night between midnight to 5 a.m. and helps girls on the streets. Proceeds from a 50/50 raffle will go to Wake up Youth.
There will be a costume contest for all ages, a disc jockey and candy for kids, Vod-Killah said. They will be collecting winter clothes for the girls DeRomano helps.
The bout versus the Scream Puffs is the first of five home bouts scheduled at the SeaGate Centre this season. Tickets are $11 and available from any derby girl and at all Anderson’s locations, Culture Clash, RamaLama Records, Shakin’ Street Records and Full Circle Salon . Children 12 and under are free.
Visit www.glasscityrollers.com for more information.