When people think of roller derby, they may imagine teams of men and women pushing and shoving their way around a banked track, but give little thought to the idea of flat track all-female teams like Laramie’s Naughty Pines.
The Naughty Pines formed in January 2009 as Wyoming’s first all-female flat track team.
Telling the difference between flat track and banked track roller derby, with the single exception of the track, may be difficult.
Marcia Peterson, known as Hellin’ A Bucket on the track, explains that on a banked track players can skate faster.
“Banked track is kind of like UFC fighting,” Lidia Ridley, also known as RIDa Cruel, said, “where [flat track] derby is more like MMA fighting. There are more rules, less theatrics. It’s more of a sport rather than entertainment.”
The team was undefeated in the regular season last year and finished in second place in the 2014 Wyoming Roller Derby Cup.
Peterson said one of the biggest things the team is working on is physical fitness and stamina. In addition she said the team is building up a stronger “wall.”
“Right now we’re working on stronger walls so we can block the jammer.”
A wall is how blockers keep the other team from scoring by preventing the jammer from getting ahead of them, she explained.
Besides the jammer and blockers, there is also the pivot position. The pivot controls the pace and also acts as a blocker.
The team is always accepting new members, and all women ages 18 and over are encouraged to join.
Ridley joined the team in 2009 and said she has heard all the excuses people give for not joining. She added that her mother, who was 48 at the time, also joined the team.
Anyone interested in joining can stop by one of the team’s practices, which are from 7-9 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday at the Laramie Ice and Events Center.
“You don’t need to tryout to be on the team,” Michelle Mason said.
Heather Crouse, called H1N1 on the track, literally crashed into the opportunity to join.
“I started skating in Wal-Mart and I crashed into a derby girl and she said it would be a good idea for me to join,” she said. “I was 16 at the time so I couldn’t join. When I turned 18 I finally joined the team.”
Mason is called Cosmic Chaos in derby because she is a grad student studying astronomy at UW. She said the team started as an outlet from school, and ended up boosting her self-esteem.
“I was looking around for things to get involved with around town because I was concentrating on school and it was driving me crazy,” Mason said. “My self-confidence has gone up. I’m overweight and I’m heavier than when I started because of all the muscle, but I feel good about myself.”
The Naughty Pines is more than a team. The players consider each other family.
“It’s like a sorority in college. It’s a group of really strong women going toward the same goal,” Mason said. “Aside from the self-confidence and being healthy, it’s a great support system and a family away from family because my family is in California.”
As with any sport injuries happen and the fear of being injured may prevent people who are curious about roller derby from joining the team. Knee injuries are the most common in roller derby.
“Knees are going to be the worst,” Ridley said. “When you’re going down, that’s going to be the first thing that stops you. One thing that we do as Naughty Pines is fall drills. We teach everyone how to fall correctly. That way you’re not flailing around and jam your knee in the ground.”
In May 2014, the team began a bid to become an official Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.
“We have to pass a series of online tests regarding rules and safety,” Peterson said. “Then, we have to have what they call ‘mock sanctioned bouts’ with teams who are already official Women’s Flat Track Derby teams and we have to hold those bouts just like if we were official Women’s Flat Track Derby – follow the right rules, have the right insurance.”
The first bout of the 2015 season is at 6:00 p.m., Saturday, April 18 at the Laramie Ice and Events Center.
Mason said she is glad she started participating in roller derby.
“I love roller derby,” she said. “I’m really happy I joined. It kicks my ass. I’m not going to lie. It is tough. I’m a klutz on my own two feet; put me on eight wheels and you’re asking for trouble. It’s really, really great and I know I’m not great at it, but I feel like I’ve gotten a lot out of it. Just for the people. For the health. For the experience.”