Bedrockers, Vixens keep roller rink alive
By Erin Mansfield
CORRESPONDENT | May 05,2014
PhotoS by Len Emery
Above and below, the Upper Valley Vixens, wearing the red shirts, host the Beat City Bedrockers of Hartford, Conn., at the Union Arena in Woodstock on Saturday.
WOODSTOCK — Women's roller derby is alive and well for New Hampshire and Vermont, where this past weekend the Upper Valley Vixens hosted the Beat City Bedrockers of Hartford, Conn., at the Union Arena in Woodstock for their first home bout of the 2014 season.
With the all-women teams decked out in their infamous spandex, ripped fishnet stockings and helmets plastered with sexual innuendos for names, the Bedrockers fell to the Vixens 216-98.
“This is a real sport,” the announcer told the audience Saturday evening. “We are not just acting. There are real hits.”
Roller derby, often just called “derby,” dates back to the 1930s, when the sport's original creators turned the classic, banked wooden roller rink into a venue for a contact sport. The game made a comeback in the early 2000s earning a buffoonery reputation for its staged, wrestling-style performances often broadcast on cable television.
“We have these alter-egos,” said 29-year-old Voldemorgan, of West Lebanon. Her real name is Morgan Hamilton, a project manager for Dartmouth College who plays for the Vixens in her spare time.
“I like contact sports, and this is one where you can get hit and not take it personally,” she said.
Played with five women on each side, including each team's one scoring player, “the jammer,” the full-contact sport is now played in a flat arena with the derby track outlined in tape on the ground. The game has been under the administration of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association since 2009, and is doing its best to establish itself as a legitimate athletic event.
“There's a lot of fun in roller derby, but I think we're trending a lot more toward athletic wear,” Hamilton, a self-described runner, said. “We train our bodies very rigorously throughout the season.”
Many women have traded in their fishnets for athletic pants and their leather shorts for Under Armour, but there's no sign that they will wipe off their stage makeup or put away their corny names anytime soon.
“Why do we have to take away all the fun of it for it to be legitimate?” asked ElizaDeath Taylor.
By day the derby girl is known as Taylor Long, a 29-year-old communications specialist at Dartmouth College who lives in Windsor and has been playing for just under two years.
“When I moved up here all of my friends were men, and I wanted to meet some awesome women,” she said. “I joined and got like 30 or 40 friends out of it.”
Steve Henck, 28, of White River Junction, volunteers as the head referee for the Vixens under the name My Baby Daddy.
“I really loved skating and I got sucked in,” Heck said, adding that he joined after seeing his girlfriend play for the Vixens. “I think that it is a really great, well-balanced sport, with a lot of action.”
“People think roller derby, and they think 1970s-style wrestling,” he said. “It's changing.”
The Bedrockers, on the other hand, held up their part of the sport's tradition and wore leopard print tops and black shorts striped with hot pink. They called their team much more social than competitive.
“We get to hit people, and go fast, and hit people while going fast,” said Roxie Guns, 32, of Connecticut. Her real name is Chandra Ribeiro, and she proudly sported fishnet stockings.
Her teammate, Jennifer “La Femme Noir” Black, 39, of West Hartford, Conn., said the team plays socially all over the Northeast — from New Jersey to Maine.
“It's therapy on four wheels,” she said.