NEO Roller Derby celebrating fifth year
|Shown is NEO Roller Derby player Katie Libecco, at middle left, during a bout against the Sandusky Roller Girls June 9.|
|Photo: Tony Paz, courtesy of NEO Roller Derby|
“We planned the season with the intentions of making it the best one yet,” said Slone, who participates in roller derby under the name Teeny Houdini. “During our away season, we worked hard to improve our skills, teamwork and strategy so that we could bring a newly improved NEO Roller Derby to our fans. We are constantly striving to better ourselves, and because of that, our season is going just as planned.”
The NEO Roller Derby consists of two teams, Slone explained.
“The Rock ‘n’ Roller Girls are our chartered A-Team, and Audio Assault is our B-Team,” she said. “The Rock ‘n’ Roller Girls have won five bouts and lost three so far this season. Audio Assault has won three games and lost six so far.”
According to team member Katie Libecco, who plays under the name Vodka Voom, there are 30 active skaters between the two teams.
“Teams are fluid,” she said. “We may gain and lose players because of life circumstances, work transfers, injuries and because playing roller derby is a huge time commitment.”
Libecco said the league features athletes with a wide variety of experience and skill levels.
“We have a really great mix of girls that are new to the league and have phenomenal natural ability, and some girls that have been with the league for all five years,” she said. “In terms of jammers — the girls with stars on their helmets who score points in a bout — Carolyn Johns (Elektra Magneto), Merandia Keller Brader (Holley Car Brader), Melanie Abner (Twin Pistol), Kari Sansone (Truly Outrageous!) are some of our top scorers. Audio Assault jammers who bring in big points include Shana Trussel (Kwik Kyra), Amber Foth (Amber Zerker), Janet Greathouse (Angel-X), Kitty Black (Gwyn Jones) and newcomers Sarah Clark (Sarah Problem Officer?) and Inertia Hurts-ya (Heather Klein).”
Libecco said the league is “always recruiting.”
“We’ve actually started hosting an informal night of recreational and educational skating at our practice space on Monday nights and invite anyone interested in learning about roller derby to attend,” she said.
For its current season, the NEO Roller Derby has three home bouts remaining. All bouts are doubleheaders, which take place at the Summit County Fairgrounds, 1100 North Ave. in Tallmadge.
“On July 14, we take on the Burning River Roller Girls from Cleveland. On Aug. 18, we take on Derby City from Louisville [and] Kent. And Sept. 8, we take on the Killamazoo Derby Darlins,” Sloane said. “First-time derby fans should expect to see competitive athletes playing an action-packed, full-contact sport. This sport is not the same as the old-school roller derby that some older folks may remember. It is real sport with several rules.”
Libecco said those who have never been to a bout before will be able to quickly catch up with the action.
“I think a first visit to roller derby is sometimes like a first visit to a racetrack — there’s a lot going on that’s standard operating procedure for the fans, but is definitely new to an outsider,” she said.
Presale tickets can be purchased for $12 at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/231610. Tickets at the door are $15. Children 12 and younger are admitted for free.
“Attendance is on par with our expectations based on last year and what other leagues are experiencing, but we’re really hoping to attract more people to our bouts,” Libecco said. “We’re hoping to purchase a new floor for our practice space — one that’s really meant for roller skating — and we’ve launched NEO Roller Derby Tile Drive. We need 6,468 square feet of tile for a regulation track, so that’s going to cost us more than $20,000.”
On July 7, the NEO Roller Derby will host a fundraiser.
“NEO Roller Derby will be hosting KC’s Nashville Nights at 88 W. Wilbeth Road in Akron,” Libecco said. “There will be bands … and some of our musically talented skaters will also be performing. There’s going to be a skater meet-and-greet, bout footage, food, giveaways, raffles and other fun. It starts at 7 p.m.”
For additional information, go to www.NEORollerDerby.com.
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