Roller Derby comes to North Arlington Saturday night; women’s competitive league to make lone local
The Observer Online
By Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer on 9 May 2018
For most of her normal work week, Lyndhurst resident Kristie Revicki is a librarian who works in Nanuet, N.Y.
But in her spare time, Revicki is transformed into Voldeloxx, a competitive player for the Ironbound Maidens of the Garden State Rollergirls, New Jersey’s premier all-women’s flat track roller derby league.
“I often wear pigtails,” Revicki said of her character.
The Ironbound Maidens regularly practice in Newark, but Saturday night at the Inline Skating Club of America on Schuyler Avenue in North Arlington, the Maidens will make their lone local appearance of the season, when the Maidens take on Mother State Roller Derby of Virginia. The doors open at 7:15 p.m. with the first whistle set for 8 p.m.
And you can be rest assured that this is not your father and mother’s version of roller derby that used to be featured on Channel 9 on Saturday mornings.
For one, that old version of roller derby was all scripted and staged like professional wrestling. This version is legitimate, competitive and physical.
Also, this version doesn’t have high banked turns and metal barricades to get slammed into. No, this variety is on a flat track with no barriers.
It means for fast, exciting action from beginning to end.
Revicki said she got involved in roller derby when she was still attending library school at Rutgers.
“A friend had tried it,” Revicki said. “I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I had to try it. Sometimes, we all need an outlet and this was right down my alley. I basically grew up on roller blades glued to my feet. So I skated a lot.”
Revicki said once she tried it, she was hooked.
“It takes a lot of mental fortitude and dedication,” said Revicki, who has been in the Voldeloxx character and competing for eight years. “I’ve been doing it for so long now that I don’t even remember what my life was like without roller derby.”
Revicki grew up in Hunterdon County and attended Hunterdon Central High School before going off to Rutgers. She said that she got involved in roller derby because of her love of skating.
“I really missed skating and wanted to get back into it,” Revicki said. “I thought roller derby might be a good way for me to get back into skating.”
Once Revicki became good at roller derby and its rules, she moved up the ranks to where she plays for the Ironbound Maidens, the Garden State Rollergirls’ all-star squad. The Maidens travel all over to play games in Boston, in South Carolina, in Ohio.
Saturday night marks the only time that the Maidens will play locally.
“We’re always on the road, so it’s good to be able to play at home,” Revicki said.
And for Voldeloxx, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump from her home.
“There is an enthusiastic fan base,” Revicki said. “It’s going to be exciting.”
The participants all come from different walks of life.
Christine Hodan is a health coach coordinator who resides in Freehold and grew up in Monmouth County. She’s been involved with competitive roller derby for 10 years and competes under the name Joy Kill Her, like joy killer.
“I’m a little bit of a joy killer when people come to me and I have to change their diets,” Hodan said.
Hodan works in Newark, but travels back and forth for practices and games.
“I do a lot of commuting,” Hodan said.
Hodan used to skate at a roller rink in Monmouth County, saw a flier advertising roller derby and that was it.
“I never looked back,” she said. “I think it’s the competitive nature that keeps me coming back. The roller derby community is fantastic. I met my husband because of roller derby. He was at an event and we met. My best friends are through roller derby. It’s hard to find things that are natural and fun. It’s why I’ve been able to stick around so long.”
It’s definitely not staged.
“It’s not like your roller derby of yore,” Revicki said. “It’s now based on athletic strategy. It’s a legitimate sport. We’re cross training all the time. I do yoga. I’m dead lifting more weights than I ever did. I need to be able to push people out of my way.”
“It’s a full contact sport,” Hodan said. “There’s always a chance of injury.”
JoAnna Fleming is a native of Brick who played field hockey and basketball at Brick Township High School. She always roller skated, but was a bit of a daredevil as well.
“I wanted to play football, but my mother wouldn’t let me,” Fleming said.
So when Fleming heard about roller derby, she was all for it.
“I was actually enamored by it,” Fleming said. “I loved the speed and the full contact. I’m basically a small athletic girl, so the full contact of roller derby drew me to it.”
Fleming’s husband Dan wanted to get involved, so he trained to be a referee.
“We spend more time together now than we ever did,” said Fleming, who competes under the name of Koopa Troopa. “If you get into this sport, it consumes you. It’s really amazing.”
Her husband also has a unique stage name: Douche Springsteen. We kid you not.
“You so physically have to be ready to play,” Fleming said. “It’s really the best decision I ever made.”
Fleming got her stage name from the Super Mario Brothers video game.
“They are the little green turtles from Super Mario,” said Koopa Troopa. “They get in the way. That’s a lot like me.”
Fleming said that she gets a huge thrill from home matches.
“There’s nothing better than having a crowd screaming your name,” Fleming said. “It’s great to see the younger skaters there watching us. They’re so excited to see us play.”
But younger girls have to wait their turn to actually participate. You have to be at least 18 years old to be a member of the Garden State Rollergirls. There are approximately 55 women participating for four different teams within the Garden State Rollergirls program.
“Everyone on the floor is a superior athlete,” Fleming said. “You have to be ready. There are no villains, no theatrics, no fake elbows. Everything is based on real physical abilities.”
So what do the ladies’ families think of their obsessive hobby?
“My husband is very supportive, but the rest of my family thinks I’m crazy,” Fleming said.
“My family is very supportive,” Revicki said. “I can get hurt anyway. I broke my ankle once from roller skating. It happens.”
But as for legitimacy, this is the real thing.
“I think we’re looking more and more like the NBA,” Hodan said. “Everything is real. All the hits are real. When I talk to people about it, I have to tell them that it’s real and then they get more interested. It’s full contact sports involving women. I think that’s what draws them in. We’re putting our best foot forward. It’s an opportunity to showcase our sport as high level derby. We have women of all shapes and sizes. It’s really a lot different than what it once was.”
One thing is universal. The women involved adore the sport.
“I love it,” Hodan said. “I wouldn’t still do it if I didn’t love it. I want to be able to continue to do what I do.”
One other thing: They are all amateurs. No one is getting paid.
“It’s 100 percent full contact and very competitive,” Hodan said. “It’s like no other sport.” And as for Voldeloxx from Lyndhurst?
“I love it,” Revicki said. “It’s the best. It’s been an amazing journey and I don’t know where it’s going to end.”
For anyone interested in tickets for the game May 12, you can purchase them for $10 online at www.brownpapertickets.com or $15 at the door. There will be a 50/50 auction, a chance to purchase merchandise as well as baked goods made by the skaters.
There will also be a chance for any interested women to participate in the GSR’s First Skate Program, also held at the Inline Skating Club of America in North Arlington on Saturday, May 19, from 9:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Participants must be 18 and older. Admission to that clinic is also $10.
To read the article on The Observer, click here.