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For Roller Vixens, Saturday was crunch time at Skating Palace

July 23, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • Members of the Mason Dixon Roller Vixens and a member of the Uncivil Warriors during their match on Saturday at Turners Skate Palace.
By Chris Tilley/Staff Photographer

HALFWAY, Md. — The Mason-Dixon Roller Vixens of Hagerstown were jamming on Saturday.

In racking up a 100-28 lead, the hometown team knocked around the River City Rollergirls Uncivil Warriors, who were visiting from Richmond, Va.

This was roller derby — a rough-and-tumble muscle sport built on dogged skating.

The Vixens are about 20 to 25 women who adopt new personas and circle the oval at Turner's Skating Palace on Virginia Avenue in Halfway when they're not at their day jobs.

Christin Bloom of Frederick, Md., whose roller derby name is Pink Medusa, said they practice three times a week; players must attend at least two.

They work on their skating, jumping, stopping and even falling. They hope to master these skills so they can take their test, which includes finishing 25 laps in less than five minutes, plus a written exam.

Passing the test enables them to become full-fledged Vixens.

Until then, they're known as "fresh meat," such as Raiza Ramos of Emmitsburg, Md., who works for Frederick County's animal shelter.

She watched the action on Saturday as she recovered from breaking her tailbone in two places. It hurts when she sits down.

She said the injury won't keep her from skating, which she loves.

Bloom, a hairdresser, said that's a common question when people first hear about the sport: Isn't it dangerous?

It's certainly not chess.

Take, for example, the hit one of the Vixens laid on "Murphy" of the Uncivil Warriors. It was an upper-arm crunch to the upper chest, so it looked legal, and it dropped Murphy into a twisted heap.

She was back on her feet a few minutes later, a little achy.

Paul Mitchell of Hagerstown was in the crowd with his 3-year-old daughter, Alison, who seemed more interested in the play area for kids.

Mitchell said he likes roller derby because it gives women a sport of aggression and excitement.

"There's really nothing like it around," he said.

Jennifer Daley of Chambersburg, Pa., was selling buttons in the crowd. Some had unicorns on them; others had catchy slogans, such as "The Derby Monster Ate My Life" and "My Mommy's Hell on Wheels." Some buttons were cartoon-like depictions of Vixen skaters.

Daley also is "fresh meat." She said she's ready for her test. She'll be Madam WhiskIt, a name she picked because she cooks for the team.

Ramos will be known as Nerdy Sanchez.

Bloom said the Vixens usually have a home bout at Turner's Skating Palace one month, then an away bout the next month, during their season.

The next home bout will be Aug. 6 against the Black Rose Rollers of Hanover, Pa.

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