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ROCKPORT, Maine — For the fifth consecutive year, the all-female roller derby league, the Rock Coast Rollers, will host Maine’s only roller derby tournament recognized by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.
The tournament, Coastal Chaos, has drawn teams from across the globe to the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport for one weekend of serious roller derby.
“We’re a small league from a small town, but the fact that we have these leagues from pretty large cities traveling here, I think that just shows that the enthusiasm is very real,” said Amanda Fagan, a member of the Rock Coast Rollers league.
Coastal Chaos kicks off Friday in Rockport and will roll through the weekend. Eight teams from across New England and Canada will compete this year. Proceeds from the event will go to New Hope for Women and to Belmont Fire and Rescue.
Roller derby’s origins as a sport trace back to the early 1900s, but around 2000 the sport was revived in Texas as an all-female full contact sport. Today, there are about 468 recognized leagues across six continents, according to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association — which is the sport’s governing body.
In Maine, there are two association member roller derby leagues, Maine Roller Derby in Portland and the Rock Coast Rollers in Rockport. Central Maine Derby is an apprentice league based in Bangor. The Aroostook Roller Derby League in Presque Isle and the Androscoggin Fallen Angels in Lewiston are not affiliated with the derby association but they still compete in Maine.
Rock Coast Rollers formed in 2011 and has grown to include 21 members. Fagan said the league is open to anyone who identifies as a woman over the age of 18.
Fagan joined the league a year ago after wanting to try roller derby for about a decade. She said playing the sport has made her feel more empowered, stronger and more confident than ever.
“It’s chaotic because it’s a full-contact sport on wheels. There is a lot of strategy to it and a lot of rules, which nobody realizes,” Fagan said. “It’s a very fast-paced, intense sport.”
While Maine derby leagues compete in bouts, or matches, year round, Coastal Chaos is the only tournament recognized by the Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Association. Having a tournament recognized by the association means following its set of guidelines for play, tournament organization and experienced officials presiding over the tournament.
Putting the whole thing on is a lot of work, Fagan said, but getting enthusiastic roller derby teams to midcoast Maine is well worth it.
“It’s a very well-respected tournament around the world, and we’re very proud of it,” Fagan said.
Related: Preparing for Maine’s first men’s roller derby bout