Ready to Roll?

Virginia Beach roller derby team is hungry for Fresh Meat.

Mike Amalfitano

So you thought roller derby disappeared when the 1970s ended? Think again. Roller derby never died, and today it’s going strong with a flat track and a less-bruising set of rules. Twenty-one leagues in Virginia “whip it,” “jam” and “block” in this full-contact sport, which has gained such popularity that it is under consideration for the 2020 Olympics. “There’s no other sport like it,” says referee Rob Putz, 50, of Virginia Beach. “You blow a whistle, and the action keeps going. In football, you throw a flag, and everyone stands around. Not here.”

And the state’s oldest team, Virginia Beach’s Dominion Derby Girls, founded in 2006, is looking for a few good women. DDG hosts a Fresh Meat Program and Boot Camp several times each year in which any adult female—with health insurance, that is—can try out for the team. If they are brave enough.

“We get some girls who have never skated before,” says Tabatha Anger, 44, of Norfolk, whose derby name is Holly Go Bite Me. “All that matters is the attitude you bring and how well you listen and do as asked so that you can learn the correct skills. Your determination helps a lot with improving your play.”

In boot camp, new players are trained to pass a minimum skills requirement, which includes a written test on the rules. “You learn the basics,” says Sarah Whisman (aka Speed Stick), 36, of Virginia Beach, “like how to fall down, different kinds of stops, things like that. All of that without having any kind of contact. In the beginning, there’s no hitting at all.” That comes later when girls split into teams and play full-contact scrimmages. Then you can bet there will be plenty of hitting.

The DDG’s schedule runs February through November, and the nonprofit organization donates both time and money to charitable causes around Hampton Roads. The next Fresh Meat Program begins in October, so skate over to DominionDerbyGirls.net and sign up … if you think you’ve got what it takes.

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