Melissa Murray and the Garden State Rollergirls
Updated: Mar 14, 2019
By Lynn Hazan
Jersey City resident Melissa Murray is part of the Garden State Rollergirls, a roller derby league in the area. After waiting a year to be drafted on a home team, she’s finally making her official debut as a Gateway Grim Reaper this Saturday. You can catch Melissa at her first home team bout on March 9th at the Inline Skating Club Of America in North Arlington. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit brownpapertickets.com.
Read on to learn a little bit about Melissa and her experience with roller derby!
Photo Credit: Quick Shot Sports Photography
What’s your name and what do you do?
My name is Melissa Murray, but my derby name is #bossbabality. We all go by shorter versions of our name, so I mostly go by #boss. I live in Greenville and work in communications at Saint Peter’s University.
How did you get started in roller derby? What inspired you?
It sounds lame, but I was obsessed with the movie Whip It in high school. All of the ladies were such badasses, and I thought it was crazy that there was a sport where you could dress up while beating up other girls!
Since most leagues require members to be 18 years old and my hometown of Myrtle Beach didn’t have a league, it wasn’t something I could do until college. I did a few first skate programs when I moved up north, but it wasn’t until last year that I found the Garden State Rollergirls (GSR) and joined the league.
What has been your experience in roller derby so far?
I joined GSR in January 2018 as a “freshie.” When you join the league, you have to go through an intensive fresh meat program that teaches you how to skate. After a few months, you have to pass a minimum skills test and a written test. Once you pass your minimum skills, you are cleared for basic contact, which you do until you are ready to scrimmage with the rest of the team. I’ve been scrimmaging for a few months now.
We have three intraleague teams: Jersey City Bridge & Pummel, Northern Nightmares and Gateway Grim Reapers. Our team hosts a draft party once a year where we are drafted into our home teams. I was just drafted on the Gateway Grim Reapers, and we have our first bout against the Northern Nightmares this Saturday, March 9! Even though I’ve scrimmaged before, this is my first official game with GSR, so I’m very excited :)
What would you say to anyone who might be interested in roller derby (tips, things to expect)?
When I encourage people to join the league, I often hear, “But I don’t know how to skate!” Very few of us knew how to skate when we joined the fresh meat program. Some of us (myself included) were very bad. We looked like Bambi on wheels. However, different members of the team taught us how to skate, and it’s so impressive to see how far we’ve all come in one year. A few of us freshies even participated in a half marathon during the summer. Honestly, anyone can do it! So if you are interested in derby at all, I think you should just try it. GSR hosts a first skate every few months, so check our website for updates.
Also, when watching Whip It, you see girls hitting each other and getting very violent. While this is a full-contact sport, safety is a huge priority, and there are legal and illegal ways to hit each other. You also learn how to fall correctly, which helps minimize injuries.
As a Jersey City resident, do you have a favorite hangout spot in the area?
I’m a little biased because my boyfriend is a bartender at the Bistro at Grove Square (say hi to my #bossboy, Sean!), but I also love singing karaoke at O’Hara’s, eating French Onion Burgers at The Ashford, and shopping for vintage clothes at Another Man’s Treasure.
Where can people find you?
I’ll be skating at my first home team bout this Saturday, so please come see me and cheer for the Gateway Grim Reapers (sorry Nightmares!). You can also follow me on Twitter & Instagram @bossbabality for some awkward selfies.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you, the Garden State Rollergirls, or roller derby in general?
One of the things I love most about roller derby is being able to meet such amazing people. I feel so fortunate to skate with ladies who are smart and supportive, and who I feel like I can be myself around without judgment.