By: Cindi Courbat
In the rough and tumble world of women’s roller derby, you might not expect to find school teachers, engineers, medical professionals, mothers and daughters — even a few grandmothers — but, then again, you probably haven’t met Brevard’s all-female roller derby team.
The Molly Roger Rollergirls team is made up of about 50 active members ranging in age from 18 to mid-50s. On the rink their skills cover the full spectrum from beginners who are just learning how to roller skate to seasoned competitors bearing tough derby names like “Sugar and Spite,” “Mayhem” or “Kellasaurus.”
“We are a diverse group of women coming from all walks of life but once we get out on the rink we are just one big family,” said Rochelle Stone who serves as president of the Molly Rogers team. Rochelle wears a black derby shirt with the number K-9 and goes by the derby name of “Kikin Puppies.” She is a highly competitive skater and passionate about roller derby and her growing team.
“This is a great sport and it is something everyone, at any skill level can enjoy,” Rochelle said. “There is a lot of misconception out there — you don’t have to be big and strong or super tough to participate. It’s just like any other sport, you learn technique and there are rules and guidelines all governed by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.” This year Rochelle recruited her own daughter, 23-year-old Kaecee Horn to also join the league.
The Molly Roger Rollergirls were officially formed in 2007 when two local teams combined forces. Michelle Marshall (known on the rink as “Five Knuckle Bullet”) became one of the earliest team members when she joined Molly Rogers eight years ago. Michelle is a science teacher at Southwest Middle School. Whenever she’s not teaching, grading papers or relaxing at home she can generally be found at the rink.
The derby girls practice three nights a week at the Galaxy Skateway center on Aurora Road in Melbourne. Michelle said she helped found the Molly Rogers Rollergirls.
“At the beginning it was all very grassroots,” she said. “It was mostly friends who enjoyed skating — we did it all for fun.”
Today, the league is 100 percent skater-owned and volunteer based. They are a nonprofit organization which encourages women of all backgrounds to experience the camaraderie, self-confidence and athletic training the Molly Rogers Rollergirls fosters,” said Michelle. They believe in community involvement; the league regularly participates in fundraisers and charity events.
The Molly Rogers Rollergirls have a full schedule for 2014 which includes hosting teams from Jacksonville, Tampa, Tallahassee and Augusta, Georgia. The travel team will compete in Gainesville, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers and Augusta, Georgia.
About half of the league’s members are beginners while 20 team members are on the travel team which is highly competitive.
“Once a skater passes her skills test she becomes eligible to try out for ‘B’ team, the marauders, or the ‘A’ team, called the travel team,” said Rochelle.
Kelly West (derby name “Kellasaurus”) is now in her eighth season as a Molly Roger Rollergirl. She serves as secretary for the team and helps sell their merchandise whenever she’s not out on the rink.
“This was something I didn’t think I could ever do,” said Kelly. “I had a skater friend whose derby name is ‘Madness.’ For five years I came out and watched them practice and compete — but I couldn’t skate at all.”
Kelly grew up in Melbourne and graduated from Rockledge High School. She now attends Valencia College and is majoring in biology. “It took me two years to learn how to skate but I never gave up and put in all the practice hours I could get,” said Kelly.
Today Kelly is one of the top skaters on the travel team and says she is ready to compete statewide, regionally — even nationally.
Kate Auger, known on the rink as “Circus Peanut,” is another derby girl who went from a once-reluctant non-skater to a top team member.
“When I joined I wasn’t even a beginner … I had never even put on a pair of skates! I just kept on practicing until I passed the test and made the travel team,” said Kate.
Kate earned her derby name “Circus Peanut” because her main role during a derby match is to entertain and engage the audience. “I always go out into the audience and give away merchandise or get them to cheer for the players — it’s always a lot of fun,” she explained. Kate joined the derby league in 2010. Before relocating to the Space Coast she was a beauty advisor for Estée Lauder in Fort Lauderdale.
New league members are called “fresh meat.” They attend practice three times a week just like the competitive travel team members. They must pass a skills test before moving on to a competition or being assigned an official derby name. According to Rochelle, the Molly Roger Derby girls are always recruiting new members. To learn more and to see their full 2014 schedule please visit their website at Mrrg.net.