Roller Derby Ridiculousness

This is just a fun feature I loved writing that reminds me of the air guitar competitors.

Mutiny at the Ag Center

Thrills! Spills! Silly costumes! Roller derby wheels into Westminster!

By Charles Schelle

Posted 1/17/10
Staff photo by Matt Roth

Accountant Beth “Beef Hellington” Pryor, 30, crunches numbers by day and bodies by night when she takes to the roller derby track in Westminster’s Danielle Shipley Memorial Arena.

“It’s a perfect situation for me,” Pryor said before a two-hour practice this past week, “Silly outfits, roller skating — plus knocking people over.”

“Exactly what I need in a hobby.”

Pryor is one of several newbies on The Mutiny, a team affiliated with Chesapeake Roller Derby that will make its debut this week at the Shipley Arena at the Carroll County Agriculture Center.

The team’s first match will be held in Westminster Saturday, Jan. 23 against South Jersey Derby of Westville, N.J., beginning at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m. and admission is $15. A two-hour party will be held after the game until 10 p.m.

The Mutiny players don pirate apparel with creative names — including Molly Wanna CrackHer, Shea Legs and Cannonball Hon.

Chesapeake Roller Derby is a coed league formed in August as a way to have fun — compared to more competitive leagues, said Monica “Knockout Rose” Yankovich, 29, of Medfield.

The swashbucklers come from all walks of life.

In addition to “Beef Hellington” the accountant, there’s an orthopedist, an Aberdeen Proving Ground employee, an Ikea worker, Annapolis lobbyists, and husband and wife pairs.

Yankovich joined the league when it formed this past summer, even though she admits she hasn’t skated since she was 10.

She was hooked when she attended a roller derby on her recent birthday.

“My friends told me I should do this, and I said, ‘Yeah, I should,’ ” she said.

What Yankovich found is a bond gelled together by a love of the absurd.

“We’re just a bunch of goof balls,” she said. “This is everything I thought it would be — getting together, hanging out, goofing off on skates, hittin’ each other, getting off your skates and you’re still goofing off.”

“We’re not like, ‘Oh my God, we have to win every game,’ ” she added. “We’re not going to the Olympics.”

Though roller derby seems to be for everyone, it is not for the weak.

The lone Carroll County representative on the team, Allison Curtis, broke her leg at the first practice.

The injury occurred so early in the season that she didn’t even get her “roller name.”

“We’re always looking for more skaters,” said Brandy “Marzipain” Tomhave, of Baltimore City and a co-organizer of the league.

Her husband is also in the action. Jeff “Homescar Runner” Tomhave, 46, grew up in southern California watching the Los Angeles Thunderbirds roller derby team, and was re-inspired by an A&E cable series, “Rollergirls,” in 2006.

Tomhave said he watched the series with his wife, and they then realized they both grew up watching the sport.

Long story short, they joined a league in Baltimore after five minutes of watching a match, then they opened Black Eyed Susan Skate Shop, then they launched the Chesapeake Roller Derby league.

Homescar Runner says that for him, roller derby is a family affair.

“I’m really doing this because my wife loves it, and I love seeing her skate,” he said.

By the way, their son — Benairen “Monsieur Doom” Tomhave — is the team mascot.

Sure, the Tomhaves admit the world of roller derby is much about hype and spectacle. Saturday’s event will include “pirate-fighting, street fighting and Macaw parrots” … as well as vendors, demonstrations and a moon bounce.

These pirates have a heart, too — the team’s home games will also help raise money for the American Breast Cancer Foundation.

A pirate’s life for me

Pryor, a Crofton resident, joined the club just two weeks ago.

But she’s not worried.

She said she roller skated all through her childhood, so she’s set as far as balance goes.

“It was my primary mode of transportation until I was about 14,” she said.

Still, there are other skills she’s trying to learn.

“It didn’t take me too long to pick up the skating part of it. It was coordinating all the hits, and the strategy of the game I’m trying to learn now,” she said.

Pryor reads handouts of rules and plays to figure out what to do, and when that doesn’t work, she has teammates to help her out.

The most difficult part is falling for the first time, she said.

“It didn’t really hurt, except I punched myself in the face,” she said. “Now I know it’s not that big of the deal.”

Perhaps she can pick up a few tips from the more experienced Janell “Steak Knife” Cannady, 27, of Towson.

Cannady began skating in 2005 with the city-based Charm City Roller Girls, then switched to The Mutiny this year for the laid-back environment.

But roller derby has consumed her.

“I watch derby events whenever they’re on online, I subscribe to magazines, I read blogs,” she said.

“Roller derby takes over your life.”

She hopes more Carroll County people will sign up for the league — and enjoy the shows.

“Here, I think it would go over well,” she said. “If you can ride a horse, you can cheer on roller derby.”

Cannady acknowledges the team features plenty of novices, but she is confident the first game will be OK.

“I think they’re going to kick ass,” she said. “I hope everybody has a good time. That’s really it. That’s why we’re here.”

If You Go

What: South Jersey Derby Girls vs. The Mutiny in roller derby action

When: Saturday, Jan. 23, 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5 p.m.)

Where: Danielle Shipley Memorial Arena, Carroll County Ag Center, 700 Agriculture Center Drive, Westminster.

Cost: $15

Other info: Pirate-fighting, street fighting, vendors, demonstrations, moon bounce and Macaw parrots will be on hand, and there will be an after-party inside arena after the match until 10 p.m.

Jammin’ the rules

The rules of roller derby might seem a bit foreign to the casual observer. The Chesapeake Roller Derby league adheres to the Old School Derby Association rules, which include:

* The track is a 15-foot wide oval lane, and the dimensions are 96 feet by 60 feet at the outer oval boundary lines.

* Two teams of five players compete in a “jam.” Each team has a jammer — the only players who can score points.

* Jams last 90 seconds. Each game has four 15-minute periods.

* Jammers starts at the rear of the pack and with the help of teammates, tries to get in front and laps the pack. These players are marked by stars on their helmets.

* Blockers try to stop the jammers from moving forward.

* Pivots try to control the speed of the pack. They have stripes on their helmets.

* Body contact above the hips and below the shoulders is allowed to force players out of bounds and to prevent jammers from progressing.

For complete rules, go to the Web site:

Roller derby resources

Chesapeake Roller Derby

Old School Derby Association

Black Eyed Susan Skate Shop

Roller Derby Movies

“Whip It” (2009) Rated PG-13. Stars Ellen Page and Juliette Lewis. Directed by Drew Barrymore.

“Kansas City Bomber” (1972) Rated PG. Stars Raquel Welch and Jodie Foster.


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