Ath­letes ‘take care of each other on the track’

The Buffalo News - - WEATHER -

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“It gets com­pared to wrestling a lot, and the roller derby peo­ple watched on TV in the 1970s,” Hughes said. “But it’s so dif­fer­ent now. There were no rules back then, and they didn’t even wear hel­mets. It’s a more strate­gic game than ever be­fore.”

The league teaches the rules dur­ing games and vol­un­teer ush­ers help ex­plain the in­tri­ca­cies. Furies co­coach Crys­tal Muzacz (Bricks Hit-House) said an un­der­stand­ing of the sport has greatly in­creased in Buf­falo, and so has its level of re­spect.

“It is not staged, and we’re not try­ing to mur­der each other,” she said. “We work hard and we train so that we don’t hurt each other. We take care of our bod­ies, and take care of each other on the track.”

There is no doubt­ing the phys­i­cal­ity of the sport, though. Furies blocker Lau­ren Tingco (Chick­adeemol­ish) said tough­ness is es­sen­tial. “You have to be able to take a hit, and that’s not easy to do,” she said. “There are a lot of in­juries; you get beat up.”

How­ever, Muzacz said, “it’s not all about the gi­ant hits. When they hap­pen, they look cool. But it’s not just about that. It’s also about pro­tect­ing each other.”

Tingco said she is con­stantly struck by the di­ver­sity of QCRG ath­letes – the size dif­fer­ences, the dis­parate life ex­pe­ri­ences, the range of ca­reers. In fact, she said she doesn’t know ev­ery­one’s “hu­man names – I only know their derby names.” But all are united by a love of the sport, and a re­spect for each other as ath­letes.

Lau­ren Ps­zonak, QCRG’s head of pub­lic re­la­tions and a ref­eree (Ky­lau Ren), said one el­e­ment that makes the league so spe­cial is its inclusivity. “It is such a close com­mu­nity. And we ac­cept all skaters equally – trans, gen­der non­con­form­ing, queer. There is so much trust that you’ll al­ways be ac­cepted.”

Hughes calls it a “one­league,

Pho­tos by Sharon Can­til­lon/Buf­falo News

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