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Five 40 Roller Girls hit the track against the Rocktown Rollers this weekend
Jenny McGuigan stretches before a practice Tuesday night.
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BY JONAS BEALS
They are powerful women with colorful names like Dee Dee Dynamite, Bomb Gnarley, Beaver Receiver, Ord Nancy, Thin Mint, Bettie Bareknuckles and Monster. They are also teachers, stay-at-home moms, scientists, artists and Marines. When they lace up the skates, they are the Five 40 Roller Girls, Fredericksburg's flat-track roller derby team. And they like to hit people.
There aren't many women's sports that encourage contact, but roller derby requires it. It's not a free-for-all, but there are plenty of hip checks, body checks, scrums and people hitting the floor.
Even practice bouts can be rough. Earlier this week at the Fredericksburg Armory, Teresa Padgett was forced off the track at the end of the gym and her shoulder scraped across a hinge protruding from the garage door. She got up and kept flying around the track, but when the water break came, she rolled up her sleeve to inspect the damage. There were two fresh red gashes above her rat tattoo.
"Isn't that awesome?" she asked her teammates. They agreed it was.
Roller derby is growing in popularity throughout the country, but the sport is still trying to overcome the clownish spectacle that made for odd TV fodder 40 years ago.
"We're emphasizing athleticism, not so much showmanship," said Five 40 Roller Girls coach Tim Loomis. "People think it's 1970s. It's not that at all."
It only takes a few minutes to see that roller derby is a physically taxing sport complete with rules, scoring and strategy. But that's just the bones of it--the spirit of the game comes from the women who don't just play it, but preach it.
"It becomes a huge part of your life," said Destinee Winslow. (That's her real name. We can't print her derby name.) "It's truly a passion. It's being and feeling empowered. In a way, you feel invincible."
Winslow, 25, couldn't skate when she started roller derby two years ago. She couldn't skate earlier this week, either. She is pregnant, so she's staying off the track, but she's helping to coach the team in the meantime.
Roller derby is a competitive outlet for Winslow, a former gymnast and cheerleader. But she said it's a more mature competitiveness than what she was accustomed to as a teenager.
"We're adults now," she said. "You can appreciate what everyone brings to the table."
What: Thanks Beatings Roller Derby Bout, featuring Fredericksburg's Five 40 Roller Girls vs. the Rocktown Rollers from Harrisonburg Where: Rollerworks (formerly Hugo's), 12099 Marsh Road, Bealeton When: Saturday, Nov. 17, at 6 p.m. Cost: $10 in advance, $12 at the door Info: five40rg.com, rollerworks familyskating.com