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RACINE — The Root River Rollers roller derby team is beginning its next 10-week “Fresh Meat” boot camp Tuesday to recruit new team members for the upcoming season.

If you’re a female in the Racine area who enjoys roller skating – with a heavy physical twist – we may have just the thing for you.

Root River Rollers
There’s nothing like practicing in the open air of an airplane hangar. The Root River Rollers practice at the EAA Chapter 838 of Racine, 3333 N. Green Bay Road. – Credit: Loren Lamoreaux

And you just may have the chance to pick out a cool new name if you sign up.

Practices will be held every Tuesday and Thursday for the next 10 weeks from 6 to 8 p.m. at the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Chapter 838 of Racine, 3333 N. Green Bay Road.

Anyone older than 18, regardless of skating experience, is welcome to attend and learn the ropes.

The cost is $100 for EAA members and $120 for nonmembers.

That’s the focus for the camp – teaching the skills, the strategy and the rules of roller derby – as the team looks to expand its roster with new talent, Root Rivers President Nicole Miller said.

“We’ll teach them from the ground up,” she said. “You’re not going in and hitting right away. We’ll teach you how to fall properly, just little taps and then we build it up. We have four coaches who will train from the ground up, and little by little, you’ll be able to see yourself improving. You’ll get that support system. Then when they get going, it’s really fun.”

The camp is also a chance to not only meet new people but maybe to uncover a hidden roller derby talent that may not have been discovered without it.

“You find people in Racine who you didn’t know were there,” Miller said. “We have people on our team who are mothers, grandmothers, accountants, just every (kind of profession). We have a little bit of everything on our team and just have that one common goal.”

Root River Rollers
Why does Squeaks play roller derby? “It’s all my grandmother’s fault,” she said. Come to boot camp to learn more of that story. – Credit: Loren Lamoreaux

The Root River Rollers’ history dates back to 2012, Miller said. After a hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic that saw numbers drop to just about 10, the team now boasts around 35 active skaters.

And while it’s certainly a competition every time they skate, what’s maybe even more important to Miller and the team is how they reach the community.

That comes in a number of different ways, from volunteering to promoting area businesses and everything in between.

“If it wasn’t for the community, we wouldn’t have a team, so we love to give back,” she said.

“We work with animal shelters, the homeless centers, anything we can, we try to help out as far as giving back. We just do little things throughout the year.”

For the love of the game

While some of the team members have previous experience in organized team sports, many do not, but that doesn’t stop Miller and the others from getting out there to compete.

“After I had my youngest daughter 11 years ago, I needed a way to get in shape,” she said.

“As much as I love ‘Zumba,’ and running, it just wasn’t for me. I like the fact that you get to be part of the group. Everybody is your family on the team.

Root River Rollers
“I play roller derby because it’s like organized chess, where you’re getting hit with a bunch of bricks getting thrown at you and are hitting a bunch of friends,” said number 11, G!nger Sinner. – Credit: Loren Lamoreaux

“We lean on each other a lot. You’ll always have support and a place on our team.”

And let’s not forget the physical aspect of it and just the adrenaline rush that can provide as well.

“It’s so much fun,” Miller said. “It is hard on our bodies. We do have a safety committee to make sure everyone is staying safe.”

Root River Rollers
“I play roller derby because every woman should have a healthy outlet for aggression,” said Oddity, number 31, green helmet. – Credit: Loren Lamoreaux

Root River closed its most recent season in May and kicks back off again in September. Road games are played four to six hours away, Miller said, and travel into Indiana and Iowa. Home games are played at Memorial Hall in Racine.

Optimism remains high for a big season ahead, Miller said.

“We’re super hopeful for next season since we have our (boot camp recruits) from last season tested up, so now they’ll be able to play with the rest of the team.”

What’s in a name?

One of the first things a visitor to the Root River Rollers website notices on the team’s roster page are the names of the participants.

It’s not what one might expect.

Miller, who has skated with Root River for the last six years, uses the name “Hella De Vil” when she competes, her homage to the fictional cartoon character, “Cruella de Vil,” from “101 Dalmatians.”

Root River Rollers
“I’m normally a shy person, but when I’m skating, I’m ‘Hella De Vil,’ so it’s a nice alter ego,” Miller said. – Credit: Loren Lamoreaux

Other skating names currently on the roster include Luna Shovegood, Intoxiscated, Marilyn Monroller, Spin Diesel, Mystique, and Babe Butcher, which would appear to come straight out of the comic books.

Root River Rollers
“Roller Derby saved my life. I was very low in my life and this brought me back to realizing what an awesome person I could be, for me and my kids,” said Danger. – Credit: Loren Lamoreaux

But what they truly are, Miller said, are ways for the competitors to either paint their own real personality or in her case, an alter ego that only comes out when the skates come on.

“I’m normally a shy person, but when I’m skating, I’m ‘Hella De Vil,’ so it’s a nice alter ego,” she said. “In my day job, normally I’m Nicole. It’s just fun with the crowd.

“I picked it because I like ‘Cruella de Vil,’ and I have kids at home. Some people pick their names based on their skating style or their hobbies.”

And for the newbies to the team, they either select a skating name – or their teammates will, Miller said.

“You really want to pick your own name,” she said with a laugh.

Along with the website, more information about the Root River Rollers can be found on their Facebook page.

Root River Rollers
“I play roller derby because it brings me an awesome community of strong powerful women, and it gives me something to do,” said Stitches (center, white helmet). – Credit: Loren Lamoreaux
Root River Rollers
The Root River Rollers are looking for some “fresh meat” for their upcoming season. Roller derby is a great way to stay fit, meet new friends and take out some aggression in a positive environment. – Credit: Loren Lamoreaux


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