Jenni Wiener, Staff Writer

The all-female roller derby team has outlasted all of the tri-state’s arena football teams. The team is completely funded by its players. They will play the San Diego Wildfires March 27. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

The Cincinnati Rollergirls, an all-female roller derby team, is hoping to rank in the top 10, as they will kick off their fifth season March 27.

In early 2005, a small group of girls, ages 18 to mid 30s, started the team at a local roller rink, said president and league representative Mercedes Stafford, nicknamed Sadistic Sadie.

Since then, the league has grown in success and is currently owned and operated by an executive board made up of skaters on the team, Stafford said. Since 2007, all of the Rollergirls’ home games have been played at the Cincinnati Gardens.

Roller derby games, called bouts, consist of two teams of five skaters facing off on a flat track. Each bout is 30 minutes and the players are allowed to have full contact with each other.

To earn points, players called jammers have to fight their way through the pack and pass members of the opposing team. The team with the most points in the end wins.

According to Greg Waddell, director of public relations and media relations at the Cincinnati Gardens, the Cincinnati Rollergirls are ranked fourth in their league and 15th in the nation.

“This season the girls are playing a lot of new leagues and teams outside their region,” said Andrea Hogan, nicknamed Karma Krash. “I’m super excited!”

Their first game is against the Wildfires, a team from San Diego, Stafford said.

“They are a fun team to play because they play a very physical fast game, but know how to leave everything on the track and not take things too personal,” Stafford said.

The Rollergirls will also play against teams from St. Louis, Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee and many others around the country.

“Our motto is ‘Anyone, anywhere, anytime,'” Stafford said.

To prepare for the upcoming season, the Rollergirls practice four times a week for two hours each.

According to Lee Laney, public relations manager with the nickname Captain Gorgeous, the practices are comprised of situational drills, endurance training, learning the rules and scrimmaging.

“I like having the opportunity to be athletic in my mid-20s,” Hogan said. “There are not many opportunities for adults to play contact sports at a national level. It is very unique.”

With the time commitment, the sport may seem like a second job to many of the players. However, the sport is voluntary.

“No one gets paid to play,” Stafford said. “In fact, skaters pay to play. Every skater pays monthly dues to cover practice space, production costs, travel and equipment.”

Stafford said the team also gives back by volunteering at local festivals and charity events, which include skating in parades and donating more than $5,000 to local charities.

“By being involved in the community, they gain a higher profile, which is good for recruiting,” Waddell said. “Anyone can tryout, but they have to go through boot camp and the process is very selective. The team has to cut people to keep their success and grow more.”

The Rollergirls’ first home game is March 27 against the San Diego Wildfires. Tickets are $10 with free parking. There is also a tailgate before the game.

For more information, visit their Web site at http://www.cincinnatirollergirls.com.

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