Written by Steve Mosco Friday, 09 December 2011 00:00
With names like Carnage Electra, Amaretto Sourpuss and Chest Blockwell, the Long Island Roller Rebels are as tough as roller girls come – but for one night of the year, their steely gazes are set on raising money for charity.
Throngs of Long Islanders hungry for jammers, whips and a few bruises rolled into Skate Safe in Bethpage for an all-female Roller Derby charity bout on Saturday, Nov. 12.
The Long Island Roller Rebels (LIRR) took to the track for the annual Pink versus Black match with a portion of the proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that recognizes the sacrifices of the newest generation of veterans.
The match featured a mix of the Rebels’ A and B teams – the LIRR All Stars and the Rock-A-Betty Bruisers, respectively.
While it was a charity match, the scene at Skate Safe was no less intense, no less hard-hitting, than one might expect at a roller derby contest. One of the girls, Off Em Annie, even sustained a serious leg injury during warm-ups. But the girls that remained provided more than enough hard-hitting thrills for the crowd.
“I’ve been to a few regular season matches and they really go after each other,” said Debra LeFong, a local fan. “It’s a lot of fun to watch these girls, who are obviously great athletes.”
Most of the girls who dare to join the ranks of the Rebels have a sports background. Caitlyn Reggio, who goes by the name Crashtastic Cate, has been a snowboarder for five years and even got her name from the snowbound sport.
“Crashtastic is when you beef [crash] so bad that people are surprised you’re actually alive,” said Reggio, of Amityville. “When I first started, I thought I was in decent shape, but after doing the actual skating, I was like I’ve got to work out more.”
Reggio is somewhat new to the roller derby ranks and plays on the Rebels’ B-team. She’s gaining experience match by match, but she still has to go through the rigors of competition to reach the level of one of the Rebels’ vets, Emily Tweedy – otherwise known as Carnage Electra.
Since joining the league in 2006, Tweedy has been an all-star, managed, coached and played just about every position on the team. Before derby she was working at a law firm, which was not quite enough to satisfy her.
One day she came across a show on A&E called “Roller Girls” and decided to check it out.
“I was getting so bored. I guess I was kind of adrift,” said Tweedy.
For Tweedy, roller derby is less about aggression and more about rhythmic movements and finding that “zone” – the place where everyday distractions dissipate and the skater is left with her own movements.
Many of the girls on the Rebels believe the best byproduct of derby life is the camaraderie and friendships that are developed, and then fortified on the track of play. Opposing teams call each other “nemesisters” and the Rebels’ chief rivals, the Hudson Valley Horrors, are some of Tweedy’s favorite foes.
“We love those girls, they are our derby wives,” she said. “But when we go out on the track, we love to just pummel them and they give it right back.”
On this particular night, the girls of the Black and Pink teams pummeled each other as much as charity would allow – with the Black team coming out on top, 144-100. The packed house at Skate Safe didn’t seem to mind the somewhat-friendly nature of the contest, as they cheered on their favorite girls.
One girl on the sideline was there for more than just a night out. Hannah Depew is an aspiring Rebel currently on the “fresh meat probation crew.” She doesn’t have a nickname yet, but she’s training with the vets and eagerly anticipating her chance to throw some elbows with the best.
She insisted that all of the good names haven’t been taken yet. Her alter ego is out there and when the time is right, she’ll step onto the court and join her sisters in battle.
“It’s all in love and war,” she said. “It’s war on the track, but love off the track.”
The Rebels will hold their 2012 Season Kick Off Bowling Party on Saturday, Jan. 22 at 8 p.m. at AMF Plainview Lanes. For more information, visit www.LongIsland RollerRebels.com or call (631) 891-5887.