RUMFORD, Maine — A 39-year-old geographical information science manager. A 40-year-old social worker. A 28-year-old who works with autistic children. A 52-year-old former hairdresser and nurse.
What do these four women have in common? They play roller derby for the Central Maine Derby team out of Bangor, along with a variety of other women. Despite their differences in age and career, they claim that their love for roller derby is what brings them together.
The Central Maine Derby team showcased their talents and their love for roller derby to a small group of incoming female Mountain Valley High School freshmen Wednesday morning inside Puiia Auditorium at MVHS. The roller derby demonstration was a part of their program “Skate Not Hate,” an anti-bullying initiative that the team launched in 2012.
Terry Parady, whose derby nickname is “Ransom Note,” told the students, “We’re here for two reasons: to teach you about roller derby and to talk to you about an issue that’s important to us: school bullying.”
Parady, along with six of her roller derby teammates, proceeded to tell the students about experiences that they have had with bullying.
“I struggled with reading and writing when I was younger and got picked on and teased all the time because of it,” Parady said. “I spent most of my elementary and high school years in special classes.”
Parady briefly stopped talking, choking up as she remembered her high school experience.
“I eventually embraced the fact that I struggled in certain areas, and then I started writing,” Parady said. “It took me until the age of 30 to accept the fact that I’m not good at everything. If you’re being picked on, don’t wait until you’re 30. Not everyone can break through and accept themselves without help.”
As the students gave a round of applause to Parady, she smiled at them, wiped her eyes and said, “Now I’m going to do some tricks, because normally, I’m cool and don’t cry.” The students laughed, and Parady quickly added, “It’s okay to cry and have an emotional moment in front of people you don’t know!”
Another member of the derby team, who went by her derby nickname, “BloodBath McGrath,” for the duration of the presentation, said that every league across the country practices what is known as “derby love.”
“Derby love asks you to accept everyone on your league,” McGrath said. “Even though we’re all different sizes and ages, there’s one thing we have in common: we all love to play roller derby. I’m not saying we get along all the time, because we don’t — but at the end of the day, we’re all together and we all share the same love.”
Following the talk on school bullying, the Central Maine Derby team proceeded to teach the students how the game of roller derby worked.
“Everybody gets to choose their own nickname,” McGrath said. “We don’t use our real names here. We choose a name that means something to us, or something we like, and adopt it as our alter ego.”
The names of the team’s alter egos mirrored the aggressive nature of the sport, ranging from “Flogging Polly” to “Kitty Shreds.” One member, nicknamed “Vile Lynn,” said that she chose her name because she loves to play the violin.
Parady explained the different positions of a derby team, and that it was a very physical, full-contact sport.
“You’ll probably end up with a few bruises by the end of it, which is why we always wear protective gear,” Parady said as she patted her knee pads and her helmet.
The students were given a chance to practice a round of roller derby, minus the skates. Onlookers laughed as the students attempted to run past the derby team and were repeatedly blocked off.
Parady reiterated near the end of the demonstration that roller derby is a sport where people are able to form close bonds with each other.
“We have pediatricians, lawyers and nurses on our teams,” Parady said. “Anybody can participate and feel empowered.”