ABERDEEN – Hell hath no fury like a woman on roller skates.
Just ask “Pushy Galore,” “Sewer Kitten,” “Infra Red” or any of the other approximately 55 members of the Red Bank Roller Vixens roller derby league.
The sport – and it is a sport, members stressed – is one way to work out life’s aggressions. “It does a great job of that,” Kathleen Martin said. “It’s a lot of physical activity, but it requires a lot of strategy while you’re skating.”
“It’s like a combination of cutesy and edgy,” said Fiona Stone who likened the sport to “Kitten with a Whip,” a throwback reference to the 1960s and early ‘70s low-budget exploitation films.
The Red Bank Roller Vixens, which holds its practices and games at the Tab Ramos Sports Center at 17 Blair Road in Aberdeen, was established about three years ago. Red Bank resident Stacie Quinn said it was founded after her brother gave her a pair of roller skates. The league was a way to address her own ennui and to find a physical activity that would maintain her interest, she said in a press release about the league.
Those on hand for a Saturday morning practice seemed to share that view – and enthusiasm for the sport and the league.
“I have to say, it’s pretty good. You get to beat the hell out of people,” Stone said with a sly grin, adding, “No, not really.”
She called roller derby a competitive sport that relieves stress and offers an “amazing exercise” and other benefits for team members.
Kim Lueddeke, aka Infra Red, an Asbury Park resident and journalist working for The Record in Bergen County, said, “I’m not an athlete. I was always the last picked for the team.” But Lueddeke always enjoyed skating around the basement in the family home as a kid.
“Yeah, I do like that I get to hit people,” she joked about her participation in the full-contact sport. “I just like the challenge” of competition and the camaraderie of those competitions. “It’s exciting too.”
Lueddeke got involved after she read about the team “and thought it would be cool.” She started with the New Jersey Hell Raisers in Kendall Park and about a year ago got involved with the Red Bank Roller Vixens.
The games go for an hour with two 30-minute halves, with teams of five. The five are made up of four blockers and one jammer. The idea is, when the referee blows the whistle, the teams skate counterclockwise on a circular track with blockers of each team protecting their jammer and looking to prevent the other team’s jammer from completing the lap, which results in scoring during the series of 2-minute jams that occur during the 30-minute time period.
It’s a fast-paced sport, one that can result in scores of over 100 before it’s over, Martin said.
“It’s not your mom’s table tennis,” said Martin, a Howell resident who works for Verizon’s point of sale strategy office and skates under the name “Pushy Galore.”
“It’s a growing sport,” she said, but one that will need continuing support.
There is support for the sport with crowds – in some cases whole families – coming to watch and cheer loudly during the games. More women also are coming forward to investigate and consider participating, Martin said.
“There’s a lot of heart, a lot of enthusiasm” among the fans, as well as the team, she said.
The Red Bank Roller Vixens have been able to use some of that support to assist in fundraising efforts, last year collecting approximately $8,000 for various organizations. The team’s 8 p.m. Saturday, April 12 game at the Tab Ramos Sports Center will be a fundraiser for the Associated Humane Society of Tinton Falls. The team is also asking spectators to donate blankets, towels, toys and pet food.
As an exercise it’s “amazing cardio” activity, said Stone, a bartender from South Amboy who skates under the moniker “Sewer Kitten.”
Team members have found the bonding and a chance for camaraderie with other women a highlight of the experience.
“I don’t think I ever met a more supportive, better group of women,” Lueddeke said. “I can say I definitely met some really good friends.”
The Red Bank Roller Vixens range in age from the early 20s –though members can be as young as 18 – to some in their late 40s, Martin said.
“It ranges enough that you can skate with your mom,” she said.
Stone, who came to the sport as a way of dealing with a midlife crisis as she approaches 40, has come to discover, “You definitely have your sisters by your side.”