‘Scarbucks,’ ‘Fast Lane,’ other Roller Derby skaters mix it up

When her co-worker’s roller skates and equipment arrived, Trish Fagan had to join her.
Karen Riley, aka Sin and Tonic, dons her helmet as practice for the Albany All-Stars roller derby team gets under way Thursday night in Troy.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Karen Riley, aka Sin and Tonic, dons her helmet as practice for the Albany All-Stars roller derby team gets under way Thursday night in Troy.

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When her co-worker’s roller skates and equipment arrived, Trish Fagan had to join her.

Her friend Marissa Lane had just signed up to participate in an amped-up new local form of the old roller derby, the Albany All Stars, and Fagan couldn’t resist.

And how could anyone resist a game with hazards that include bumps, bruises, scrapes, and that waffling effect produced by sliding on the rink while in fishnet stockings?

“My legs are a mess,” Fagan confided recently of how her decision turned out. “But that’s part of the game. It’s something to brag about.”

Fagan, 25, and Lane, 31, both employed by a Schenectady-area group home, are among about two dozen women from the region, all members of the Albany All Stars Roller Derby, a new version of the 1970s skating sport.

The group has been around for about a year, recruiting and practicing. Now, the members have scheduled their first three-bout season, running Feb. 23, March 29 and April 26 at the Washington Avenue Armory in Albany.

Roller Derby in its simplest form has a group of skaters racing in a pack around the rink, with one skater from each team trying to lap the pack. Team members alternately help their own teammate and block their opponent.

In between come the bumps and bruises and a bit of camp, as evidenced by the fishnets and other elements.

Team members even have their own amped-up monikers, all regulated by a national derby body.

There’s Dixie Stampede, Scarbucks and Moxie Shocker, among others.

Schenectady resident Marissa Lane loses her first name in favor of another, becoming “Fast Lane.”

Her friend Trish Fagan of Albany ran afoul of the national name list with her first choice “Patty Poundcake,” which was already taken.

Fagan ditched that last name, in favor of one arguably more edgy: Pacifist, but tweaking the spelling. Fagan is “Patty PassAFist.”

The team names are equally as interesting. The Albany All Stars include the “Department of Public Hurts” and the “Skateomasochists.”

REVIVAL MOVEMENT

The National Flat Track Roller Derby Association holds together the disparate group of independent clubs that have sprung up in recent years with a revival in the sport.

Two of the All Stars’ three bouts are against other teams, one from Westchester County’s Suburbia Roller Derby and the other from Syracuse’s Assault City Roller Girls.

One Roller Derby league from Texas was even featured in a cable television reality program in 2006, “Rollergirls,” cited by some as getting them interested.

Among them was Lane.

“I hadn’t skated since I was little,” she said. “But it was something I always wanted to try.”

Once involved, members say, it takes about three months of training to get up to competition level. The group practices twice a week; many of the practices are held at Rotterdam’s Rollarama.

Endurance is among the most important skills; then comes how to hit.

Rules limit hits from the shoulders to the hips.

“You’re not supposed to hit with your elbows and you can’t just punch a girl in the face,” member Daniell Furfaro, also known as “The Beruit Bombshell,” said. “You learn to take and to give very controlled hits.”

“It’s a really difficult and aggressive sport,” Furfaro, 32, added. “But it’s so much fun.”

Then there’s family reactions to this unconventional sport.

Skeptical relatives, however, are quickly won over, members, including University at Albany graduate student Kim Eisen, said.

“My family loves it,” said Eisen, also known as “Dotty Damage.” “I have a big family and they think it’s really cool.”

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