- Associated Press - Saturday, June 27, 2015

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - For those old enough to remember, do you recall Saturday morning roller derby? Banked track, men and women on skates, flying elbow, hip check into the rail, and with just enough of an uppercut flying skaters. The WWE on wheels before there was a WWE.

There’s a new Parkersburg-based roller derby women’s team the VooDoo Dolls. The Dolls are in the Ohio-based flat track based derby League of the Derby Dolls. And if you expect to see some of the old roller derby with these ladies you should get your popcorn ready and go back to YouTube. That kind of behavior doesn’t have a place in the league according to one of the founders of the team, Traci McKitrick, better known as McTrixie, once competition begins.

Fighting will get you a three match suspension. Cursing can land you in the penalty box, she added. Don’t you dare say “where’s the fun in this then?”

Five former members, at one time or another, of the Hades Ladies formed the team as McTrixie, Crash-Andra, DeManda Lott, Dr. Crusher and Foxy Chaos make up a portion of the Dolls. That’s their derby competition names when they take the track. There are seven others on the team and they are: Malicious Monroe, Kamikaze Kayla, Dominic Stilletto, Royal Buzz, Faster Pushy Cat, Bruise Wayne and Miss Fit Z.

The ladies practice and compete on the flat track of whatever facility they use as the skating area. Last month it was the multipurpose area of West Virginia University-Parkersburg. The skating area is made up of small rope taped to the floor with colored tape secured to the floor to start the jamming area. It quickly comes up after a bout and the roller rink quickly returns to whatever the surface was used for before the VooDoo Dolls showed up. And that surface, just because the Dolls are on skates, doesn’t always mean the ladies are competing on wood. They wear a lot of padding for a reason. Sometimes that surface is a smooth concrete. Falling and bouncing on concrete is a lot different than falling and bouncing on a wooden surface.

“We wear tights a lot,” McTrixie said. “You wear a lot of padding on the legs and you can’t skate very fast. When you wear tights, it doesn’t allow a rink rash, sometimes rink rash is not a pretty sight.” Rink rash, according to McTrixie, is a “nasty burn a skater can get on her skin after falling on a skating surface.”

Crash-Andra, whose real name is Cassandra Fenton, started as a Hades Lady who wasn’t comfortable on skates. “Noooooo, I couldn’t skate well at all,” she said shaking her head in a “no” motion. “I was working with a girl on the Hades Ladies and she talked me into it. I have gradually gotten to the point where I’m pretty good at it.

“And this is something you can’t really do half-heartedly,” she continued. “You have to be committed to this. We have two practices a week and total about five hours on the wheels. If you want to do this, we’ll teach you how to skate. We’ll teach you how to get in someone’s way too,” she said with the sneakiest of smiles.

Five skaters per team begin what is termed a “jam” which can be no longer than two minutes in length. There are four blockers and one jammer per team and only the jammer can score a point according to McTrixie. “The first jammer to break away from the pack is called the ‘lead jammer,” she said. “And only the lead jammer can call off the jam. A point is scored when a jammer passes another skater on the other team after they have circled the track and come up on the pack again. Once they start passing opponents is when they starting scoring points. They can call off the jam by touching hands to hips several times in an up-and-down motion.”

But those flying elbows when a jammer rounds a turn and approaches the pack those jump and backside block a jammer into the next zip code those fights in the bench area not happening here, according to McTrixie.

“It’s all illegal. Just about everything they did on Saturday morning is illegal here. We play hard. We hit hard but we hit clean.” she said, paused, and added a sneaky smile, ” most of the time. Every once in a while some flies off with some attitude. A couple of times in the penalty box and that gets old fast.”

If a skater finds herself in the penalty seven times, she in essence, fouls out according to Malicious Monroe, otherwise known as Ashley Cunningham Slack. “Takes her shoes off, grabs her gear and leaves the skating area,” she said. “She can’t stay in the bench area. Takes her toys and goes home, so to speak. She’s done.”

Malicious said the skaters have what is known as a target zone to strike on. “It’s basically collar bone to mid-thigh,” she said. “Like a strike zone in baseball.”

Those jams, which have a total of 30 per bout, have a different line of skaters, much like hockey does when a team sends a new group of players to the ice.

“Two minutes doesn’t sound like a lot of time,” said Malicious, “but that is two minutes of constant physical impact. It can be physically exhausting especially if it is a couple of big bodies bouncing off each other.”

And it’s a bit farther down to the track than usual according to Brooke Hickman, better known as Ephoria on the track. “Those skates elevate you two to three inches off the ground,” she said. “Trying to get through a pack and having some big bodies trying to knock you down, there can be a lot of contact. But the bruises are badges of courage,” she added. “That’s you earning your stripes.”

Ephoria spent three years with the Hades Ladies and has roller skated for more than 20 years. It wasn’t what she expected. “No, I was expecting, you know, football players on skates. These are ladies of all shapes and sizes, mothers, older ladies ” Ephoria herself became a new mom again with a baby boy less than three months ago. “Now, I’m lining up baby sitters while I practice.”

While many of the VooDoo Dolls are veterans, some aren’t. Two new skaters are Kyla Keidel, otherwise known Kamikaze Kayla, a 22-year-old Ohio Valley University graduate who was a member of the soccer team, and 19-year-old Justine Montgomery, a manager at Qdoba, who is Dominic Stilleto.

“I wanted something to keep myself in shape,” said Kamikaze. “I had never really skated before but I’m getting the same bumps and bruises as I did when I played soccer. I even wear my old shin guards. But you sweat, you bruise and you bleed with these girls. And did I bruise. I bet I fell 20 plus times in my first practice. They were very encouraging and accepting.”

Now skating isn’t cheap, according to McTrixie. “Yeah, you can get some used skates out there from people for about $40 but. ‘but a good pair of skates are going to cost you about $300-$500 new,” Crash-Andra said. “And from someone who was worn both, quality skates will feel better and keep you from being injured a lot more than some pair of amateur skates.”

Then there’s the helmet and the wrist, elbow and knee pads. Crash-Andra said the Dolls have a plan. “We have a pool of extra equipment for new skaters,” she said. “It allows them to gradually get their equipment new without having to drop a bundle at the start.”

There are no paychecks in this derby. In fact, on game day, the ladies write checks for $10 to participate. “Everytime we compete,” said McTrixie, “it’s a fundraiser for someone. It really is a community orientated thing we do. We like do this but with the fundraising, we’re trying to make the community around us a better one.”

The regular season has not yet started for the Dolls, who were trying to decide on a entrance song to be played when they entered the track area. “Yeah, well, it’s not gonna be ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,’ I’ll tell you that,” Malicious said, and they all laugh.

“This is a very empowering sport,” she said. “It’s an adrenaline rush a stress relief. You forget the day’s trouble when you get a chance to bang into someone.”

“Yeah, and the person on the other team feels the same way about you too when they bang into you,” McTrixie said to Malicious. “Yeah, you’re right there,” Malicious, who was wed during the last week, said. And no, she didn’t come down the aisle on skates. A little bit of dance? Yes. Skates? No.

___

Information from: News and Sentinel (Parkersburg, W.Va.), http://www.newsandsentinel.com

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