On The Coast: Roller Derby In Maryland (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio


On the Coast: Roller Derby in Maryland


And now, we move to a sport of an entirely different color, I guess you could say, in our weekly segment, On The Coast. Where coastal reporter, Bryan Russo, brings us the latest and greatest from the eastern shore of Maryland and Coastal Delaware. This week, Bryan, ventured to Salisbury, Md. Where he found some women who are coming out to play and play hard by strapping on a pair of roller skates.


The (word?) cheers in over the top announcer might sound like any other college basketball game during player introductions but if you listen closely, you'll quickly realize there won't be any lay ups or bounce passes tonight at the Crown Sports Skating Rink. Sindarosa (sp?) stands a little more than five feet tall. She wears a tight yellow jersey with black and yellow polka dotted hot pants pulled over black fishnets. She and some of her fellow Old Bay Bombers who boast names like Wonder Brawl, Booms (sp?) , Colene Oscopy and Smashed and Pusher, are about to face off against Wicomikazis.


A team made up of players with names like, Dr. Jacq'all-n-Hide, the Notradame (sp?) , Kitty Purry (sp?) and Acurdablood (sp?) . But this isn't no disco and it's no pick up game either. These are the Salisbury Roller girls and they're about to introduce you to the increasingly popular world of female roller derby. Roller derby dates all the way back to the 1880s. Back then, roller derbies were endurance races, which later involved into staged theatrical events.


Think, WWE meets a punk rock concert. That's when the pun filled derby names came into play. But the choreographed endings are a thing of the past now. As professional leagues and grassroots club, like, the Salisbury Roller Girls are popping up all over the country and attracting rabid fans and curious onlookers by the hundreds. People like Courtney Taylor.


I think it's awesome. I'm still just learning all the rules and penalties and then so forth. I like them when they get rough with each other.


And they do get rough. You chat with these ladies and many of them have had broken bones, dislocated appendages and countless bumps and bruises. But this sport despite the don't look away because you might miss a train wreck type of action is very structured. And there's lots of rules. As Andy Warhol fanatic and roller derby self proclaimed resident hit girl, Sara Lindsey, aka, Edie (sp?) Sledgewhip (sp?) .


The basic rules are you have 10 people on a track at all times. You'll have eight blockers, four from each team, two jammers, one from each team.


See, the jammers are the ones who score points by skating to the front of the pack. And usually the jammers are the fastest as you might assume, the smallest. So the full on body checks in Nascar, like, pileups are caused by the blockers. Trying to stop the jammers from getting passed. Because...


For every blocker they pass on the opposing team, they get a point.


But all rules set aside, it's a show. Thumping dance music, even the announcers and refs have derby names, like, Fat Zach for instance.


It's an all ages affair. From the young to the young at heart like retiree Hannah Esham (sp?) who's in the front row in a crowd of almost 700 people to support her friend Bridgett or Percy Cutie.


It's fun and it's just the noise, is unbelievable.


Jamie Taylor is dating the aforementioned Notradame of the Wicomikazis. Who at age 50, is the oldest member of the roller girls. She actually skates alongside her daughter, 18-year-old Kitty Purry. (sp?) . And even though today's bout is the first Taylor has seen, he remembers the year of training the girls endured just to get to this night.


They didn't have a rink or anything. It was probably like 10 or 15 girls, they started skating downtown in Salisbury at like a empty bus station, empty parking lot. And nobody really thought nothing of it and they just kept pushing it and pushing it and pushing it.


But if you ask the players, they'll all point to one person as their inspiration for getting into the sport and the main reason this entire league started in the first place, 19-year-old Salisbury roller girl founder Eva Paxton or Buster Skull. But Paxton is just coaching for them because four months ago she was diagnosed with Lymphoma, a type of cancer affecting the immune system. And if not for the telling lack of hair from a recent run of chemotherapy, you'd never know this slender girl with porcelain features and numerous tattoos was anything but a 100 percent fit.


And she's one of the most vibrant and energetic people here at the rink. But even she will admit, she'd rather be out there hitting it, jamming.


Well, certainly it was hard not -- this isn't how I pictured this day. You know what I mean? Obviously, I wanted to be in it. I'll feel better when I'm on skates, certainly.


But Paxton says her tumor is all but gone. And when I ask if a comeback is possible this season, she replies as if there's only one answer to the question.


Oh, yeah, May 21st, (word?) I'll be back because treatment is done April 28th. They said that they wanted to keep my port in, my doctor just told me that. It's coming out. I'm not -- yeah, because that's the only thing keeping me from making contact.


For the record, the final score of the bat is the Old Bay Bombers 150, Wicomikazis 103. But Paxton says the winner is the St. Baldrick's Foundation. Since much of the money from ticket sales will go to help kids battling cancer. As the players celebrate the victory and the fans file out of the building, many of them pass by Salisbury's favorite son. North American boxing federation middle league champion Fernando Guerrero, whose been watching quietly on the side lines. Perhaps soon the champ will be joined by other hometown heroes and they'll have names like Felonious Punk and Buster Skull. I'm Bryan Russo.


We've got photos of Buster Skull and the crew on our website, metroconnection.org.
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