MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
Before they discovered roller derby, their names were Kelly, Kristal, Jennifer, Amy, Sarah, Aiyana, Sylvia and Tricia.
Now, as members of Pacific Roller Derby, which practices twice a week at Marine Corps Base Hawaii’s G Street hockey rink, they are known as Calamity Crush, Loonatic Loocy, Cry-Sis, Faye Tality, Acute Mangler, C.C. Bang! Bang! and Tadbit Nasty.
While on break during practice April 14, 2013, several of the skaters said they found out about roller derby by accident, watched a game and became magnetically attracted to the sport as participants because of its athletic and competitive demands.
Loonatic Loocy, aka Kristal Loo, an occupational therapist from Waikele, said she loves roller derby because “it’s always changing, and it’s very challenging.” A swimmer in high school, she started from scratch, having never previously put on a pair of roller skates.
Cry-Sis, aka Jennifer Cabral, is a native of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., and an Air Force spouse. She has two sons, ages 13 and 16. For her, roller derby is “the most energetic, selfish thing I have ever done for myself. I have split my time between my kids’ soccer, karate (and) football, and I finally found something that energizes me. It’s the most amazing thing I have ever done for myself.”
Faye Tality, or Amy Hughes, from Portland Ore., is in her second season with PRD. Her husband recently retired from the Army. A student at Leeward Community College, she said roller derby is “fun to watch, it’s fun to play. There’s a great sense of community and family that you get when you join the league.”
In all, about 50 women from across Oahu belong to PRD, founded in 2008 as Hawaii’s first amateur women’s flat track roller derby league.
The league, which is owned and operated by its athletes, is recruiting new skaters as well as volunteers for non-skating or skating positions, such as referees. New recruits practice Saturday mornings in Hawaii Kai.
Calamity Crush, aka Kelly Thune, an art curator in Honolulu, is in charge of training new recruits in the league. In her six years playing roller derby, “I’ve had so many injuries that I’ve actually grown into my derby name, Calamity,” she said, smiling. Besides the typical bumps and bruises, she has twisted her ankles and broken her wrists.
“It’s a contact sport, so you always take that risk,” she said. “But we train the girls to be able to appropriately fall to be as safe as possible in the pack. There are a lot of precautionary measures we take when we train so we’re not creating dangerous situations. The new girls’ training program exists so we can get them up to speed before integrating them into the rest of the league. They work on basics like stops, falls (and) how to safely skate next to somebody else.”
Spankin’ Pickle, or Tricia Prestridge, a Navy spouse and native of Great Cacapon, W.Va., has been counting the days till her return to derby this week. She broke her right foot during practice in January. When she and her family moved to MCB Hawaii a year ago, “I saw (PRD) practicing on the base, and I thought, that’s what I want to do, and it’s been the love of my life ever since.”
Acute Mangler, or Sarah Michel, of Waikele, teaches high school math, covering topics like acute angles, which are angles less than 90 degrees. Michel said she met some of her best friends on her fIrst day of practice as a new recruit.
“I’ve only been doing this for 11 months, but it has legitimately changed my life, in the way I see myself and the way I see what I’m capable of and the way I see what I deserve out of my life. I feel empowered.”
Taleisha Scott, a Navy spouse, serves as a bench coach in the league and is also a new recruit. A nurse by training who played softball and soccer in high school and college, she said roller derby is “a whole different level of competition. You’ve got to strive to be the best for yourself, but you also have to try to be the best, for your team, and it really matters.”
She added, “The best part is I can play this sport until I’m 60, if I want to, and there are skaters (who) are that old, nationally. You can skate as much as you want, as long as you want.”
C.C. Bang! Bang! or Army Staff Sgt. Aiyana Harris, is the league’s most experienced skater. A nurse at Tripler Army Medical Center, she said, “Every time the Army (relocates) me, I try to find a league.” She has skated with teams in her hometown of Baltimore, Md., in Colorado and in Washington state.
Tadbit Nasty, or Sylvia Flores, finds that the major appeal of derby for her is that it lets women step beyond the traditional roles and expectations placed upon them as wives and mothers.
”Roller derby gives us a space to leave all that aside and get aggressive, competitive, and physical,” Flores said.
“Women of all backgrounds are able to come out on the track, and within six months to a year, participate in a difficult sport that holds true athleticism close to its core.”
The league practices at the G Street hockey rink Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings.
PRD holds its third game or bout of the season tonight at Palama Settlement Gymnasium, at 810 N. Vineyard Blvd. in Honolulu. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the game starts at 7 p.m. Games are played in two 30-minute halves with a 15-minute halftime. For more information, see http://www.pacificrollerderby.com.