Bru­tal on the skate­way, ‘fam­ily’ af­ter the match

Orlando Sentinel - - CALENDAR -

At the bar of Friendly Con­fines in Win­ter Park, a Dal­las Cow­boys fan is ag­gres­sively cheer­ing on his team. No one is pay­ing at­ten­tion to the sec­tion of mild-man­nered women who just min­utes be­fore were slam­ming each other face-first into the floor of the Se­moran Skate­way in Cas­sel­berry.

This is the af­ter-party for the lat­est matchup in Or­lando Roller Derby. If not for the rem­nants of face paint and that most of the play­ers are ei­ther wear­ing red or blue, one would guess that this is like any other gath­er­ing of friends, shar­ing beers and na­chos and laughs.

“We’re very co­he­sive,” says Dulce Muerte of the Heat­wave Hell­cats. “We’re kind of like a fam­ily in a way.”

The league started in 2009 as the Or­lando Psy­cho City Derby Girls. Last year, Or­lando com­pleted its ap­pren­tice­ship sea­son for the Women’s Flat Track Derby As­so­ci­a­tion, the gov­ern­ing body for the sport. In March, the league re­branded as Or­lando Roller Derby and is wrap­ping up its first sea­son in the of­fi­cial rank­ings for the in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Fans of the old Psy­cho City will be happy to know this new re­spectabil­ity doesn’t mean the games have lost their bru­tal edge. This par­tic­u­lar match pit­ted the Hell­cats against the Snow­bird Bombers (two of Or­lando’s three home teams; the third is the Man­a­tee May­hem). At the roller rink, con­fined to a nar­row oval marked out with tape on the floor, the com­bat­ants pushed and shoved each other for a con­tentious hour of bruis­ing shoul­der-to-butt-tofloor con­tact.

If you’ve never seen a game, a “jam­mer” tries to get past the other team’s “block­ers” as many times as pos­si­ble. There’s … a lot more to it.

Why do it? “Anger man­age­ment,” says Hell­cat co-cap­tain Effie Bomber, who was named Fan Fa­vorite for her team this night. But re­ally, the mother of two says, “This is some­thing I can call my own. I take care of my kids all the time. This is my time.”

“It’s the peo­ple I’ve met,” says Muerte. (Th­ese aren’t their real names. They go by their derby names.) “Women who are strong­willed and opin­ion­ated. It’s def­i­nitely spilled over into my out­side life.”

Watch­ing Effie laugh with a mem­ber of the Bombers af­ter crush­ing them 188-139, one can tell this game is about more than points.

The next match will be Oct. 22 at the Se­moran Skate­way. Tick­ets are $8. De­tails: or­lan­dorollerderby .com.

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