“Five… Four… Three… Two… One… Beep!”
Moab Roller Derby will take on the Salt Lake City Ladies of the Lake in this weekend’s bout at the Old Spanish Trail Arena outdoor pavilion. The teams will face off at 6 p.m. Aug. 23. Tickets are $5 each, and kids are free.
The pavilion is a new addition to the Old Spanish Trail Arena. Before it was made, Moab Roller Derby had to rent a floor to be able to host home bouts. Now, it can host other teams for nine months out of the year, Moab Roller Derby team member Jessica “Evil Lucian” O’Leary said.
“We are super excited to use it for bouts,” O’Leary said. “This is a lot easier and the setting is beautiful.”
O’Leary has played against some of the skaters from Ladies of the Lake, but never against the team itself.
“I think the teams will be pretty well matched,” she said. “We both have a pretty good mix of skaters, as far as beginners and more advanced players.”
O’Leary started playing roller derby five years ago in New Mexico when her friend talked her in to joining.
“The physicality of the sport is what drew me to it originally,” she said. “Being able to play a full-contact sport as a woman is unique. What has kept me in it is the camaraderie within the team.”
When O’Leary came to Moab, she had no intentions of giving up roller derby. So in 2011, she started the Moab Roller Derby team. Currently, the team has nine players of varying skill level. One of the newest members of the team, Lauralee “Laura Leethal” Kruta, is excited to compete in her fifth bout.
“I’m always a little nervous,” she said. “My first bout I was the most nervous, but it’s really fun.”
Kruta joined the team almost a year ago. She said she looks forwards to every practice, that it’s a good mix of socializing and getting to know people and being physical. She always strives to get better, but has to balance on the fine line of pushing herself and not getting hurt.
“You’re supposed to slam into people,” Kruta said. “But in the right way, I feel like I’m still learning the right way.”
At practice on Sunday, Aug. 10, the team practiced hip checks.
“Absorbing the hits makes them more bearable,” O’leary said. “Or, I like to hit back.”
Kruta said that even though roller derby is an “incredibly rough sport”, everyone is caring and looks out for one another.
“It’s like a family,” she said. “Nobody pushes anyone past the level of the group; it’s safer for the individual and the team as a whole.”
O’Leary said that roller derby is mostly a women’s sport, but in some bigger cities there are coed and men’s teams.
A bout is divided in to two 30-minute halves. Each half is composed of two-minute segments called “jams”. There are five players from each team on the track at a time; four blockers that make the pack, and one jammer. The jam starts with both jammers behind the pack. When the whistle blows, the jammers have two minutes to push through the pack and lap as many opposing skaters as they can. One point is scored for each opposing skater lapped.
If a player is pushed out of bounds, they have to come back into play behind the skater that pushed them. If they come back into play “illegally”, it’s called “cutting the track” and is a foul.
Players wear skates, not roller blades, with stoppers on the front. Skaters use the stoppers to run, push through the pack, and of course, to stop. They also wear helmets, mouth guards, wrist guards, elbow pads and kneepads.
Despite the protection, “you fall a lot and get bruises everywhere,” Kruta said.
Moab Roller Derby is eager for the bout and wants as many people to come out and support the team as possible.
“Hope to see you there,” O’Leary said.
Moab Roller Derby hosts first match at OSTA’s new outdoor pavilion
“The physicality of the sport is what drew me to it originally. Being able to play a full-contact sport as a woman is unique. What has kept me in it is the camaraderie within the team.”
What: Roller Derby Bout – Moab Roller Derby vs. Ladies of the Lake (Salt Lake City)
When: Saturday, Aug. 23 at 6 p.m.
Where: Old Spanish Trail Arena Pavilion (3641 S Hwy 191, Moab)
Cost: $5 for adults; free for kids