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Sports

Local roller derby league hosting ‘roundup’ for new players

8/7/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

Shown at left is Casey Kelley, who plays in NEO Roller Derby under the moniker “Masher Chief,” during a past bout.
Photo courtesy of Casey Kelley
DOWNTOWN AKRON — On Aug. 31, members of the NEO Roller Derby will host a roundup event as a way for local women to learn more about joining the league.

Casey Kelley, who plays in NEO Roller Derby under the moniker “Masher Chief,” described the roundup, which will take place at 540 S. Main St. from noon to 2 p.m., as a “meet and greet” for anyone 18 years old or older with any interest in roller derby.

“The roundup is a chance to meet with NEO Roller Derby members and become informed about NEO as a league and roller derby in general,” she said. “Questions are more than welcome, as is hanging out and getting a sense of what the league is about.”

According to Kelley, information discussed at the roundup will include the history of NEO Roller Derby, the basics of joining the league and the types of things the league does for the community.

“Commitments to the team are discussed during the roundup. This includes what our practice schedule consists of and participation in promotional events,” she said. “This roundup is to start training for our 2015 season beginning in February, but our boot camp will take place later this year. We’ve had a lot of success with our boot camps in previous years, and we are looking forward to our 2014 boot camp.”

Kelley said NEO Roller Derby, which is now finishing its seventh season, is open to women of all levels of ability in roller derby, including those who have never played the sport.

“We can teach any skill level, so there is no experience needed to start roller derby. I, personally, could only skate forward in one direction, if there was no need to stop, when I first started training with NEO,” she said. “The team is composed of members of various skill levels, yet NEO has numerous ways to keep everyone included in training. While roller derby has its fair share of rules and skills to learn, they come with the experience of learning to become a derby girl. Strategies and game plans are learned through practices with the team. From first learning to skate to my first bout took me about six months. Everyone is different in how long it takes to learn roller derby, however.”

Playing roller derby is a fun way to stay active, Kelley said, and playing in NEO Roller Derby also includes a strong social element for its players.

“Roller derby is a fun team sport, but with room for individual growth. It provides both physical and mental stimulation in bouts and also with practices and training. The effect roller derby has on its participants is astonishing and wonderful,” she said. “There is a drive to not only improve the individual, but to improve as a team. Our members really do become a family. There are so many people from various walks of life that those who are active in the fitness community can skate with those who have never played a sport before. We also all hang out at the after-bout party.”

There is no cost to attend the roundup, Kelley said, and no equipment is necessary.

“The NEO roundup is just the first step to discovering more about roller derby,” she said. “Roller derby gets into you, and you want to give back. Roller derby is a growing sport, and it’s amazing to grow with it, to be a part of what makes it great.”

In addition to players, Kelley said, NEO Roller Derby also is looking for volunteers and referees, and more information about taking part in the action through these roles also will be available at the roundup.

“NEO can provide training for referees and NSOs, or nonskating officials, which aren’t limited to any specific gender,” she stated. “Skating officials assess penalties, assure game flow and make sure the track is safe and all skaters have on proper skating gear. NSOs help all aspects of game flow from tracking and timing penalties, keeping score and many other tasks for a bout to happen. So any interest at all in the fastest growing sport in the world is reason enough to come and meet the league. There are many things that make roller derby great, and not all of it is on skates.”

More information about NEO Roller Derby can be found at www.neorollerderby.com.

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