SILVER SPRING – Local resident Maya Aleshnick never played a sport before her first roller derby match. But she’s been hooked since reading an article about the all-women’s sport in a newspaper and attending to her first event in 2012. Roller derby is a contact sport played by two teams with five women on each […]
SILVER SPRING – Local resident Maya Aleshnick never played a sport before her first roller derby match.
But she’s been hooked since reading an article about the all-women’s sport in a newspaper and attending to her first event in 2012.
Roller derby is a contact sport played by two teams with five women on each team skating around a track.
The objective is to have one designated skater score points by lapping skaters of the opposing team while her teammates block for her.
Each team plays offense and defense simultaneously.
The sport consists of three positions: jammers, blockers and pivots.
Jammers are responsible for scoring points. There is one on each team. Fans and players can recognize them by the stars on their helmets.
Blockers prevent the opposing team from scoring points while also assisting their own jammer through the pack to score. They have no design on their helmets.
Pivots are blockers who may take on the role of jammer if the designated jammer needs help. Pivots wear a stripe on their helmets.
Most teams have women practice different positions so that no one woman is relied on completely.
As of 2014, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association had 243 full leagues included.
Aleshnick, better known as Ginge Reaper on the DC Rollergirls, is originally from Vermont.
She moved to Baltimore for graduate school and later moved to Silver Spring for work at the FDA as a Malaria researcher.
“Names are given to you by your teammates depending on what you do or how you look,” explained Aleshnick. “I got mine because of my red hair.”
The 26-year-old joined the DC Rollergirls in July but has been off skates for about three years. In 2012, she only played derby for six months.
Aleshnick said the DC Rollergirls community welcomed her as a transfer skater and even helped reintegrate her into the game.
“If I was struggling with anything, any random person would approach me and help me with my techniques,” said Aleshnick. “It’s a really encouraging and supportive place to be.”
According to Aleshnick, roller derby is more popular in this part of the country.
“In Vermont, there was only one league to play for,” said Aleshnick. “But in the D.C. area, there’s so many major cities close by like Baltimore or Philadelphia, making it a much bigger derby community.”
Aleshnick decided to play when she realized the sport combined a lot of things she liked: roller-skates, aggression, empowered women, a supportive community and puns.
“Most people try to argue that their sport is the best, but it is hands down roller derby,” said Aleshnick.
Aleshnick helps the creative committee by making posters, flyers and ads for publicity.
Rockville resident Simmie Berman, 31, is a mechanical engineer by day and a DC Rollergirl at night.
Berman moved from Massachusetts, to Montgomery County in 2011, first living in Wheaton before heading west to Rockville in 2013.
Her college club gymnastics coach introduced her to roller derby, leading Berman to buy gear with a friend and sign up for a training derby boot camp the next day.
“I remember rolling into someone because I didn’t even know how to stop,” said Berman.
Berman, better known as Simmie Simmie Coco Puff on the DC Rollergirls, begins her third season next January. She mentioned the season runs from January to April but the team still practices during the off-season.
“I mainly do it for the people; the people I meet through derby are people I would never meet otherwise,” she said. “They are the most supportive group of women.”
Berman never played a team sport before joining the Rollergirls. Her athletic past includes gymnastics and tae kwon do.
“I really like being on a team. It’s very satisfying to work together and succeed together,” said Berman.
As the team’s financial representative, her role on the team is to look out for charity fundraising opportunities and to keep track of the team’s money.
“We are self-sustaining and independent,” said Berman.