New Jersey’s oldest roller derby team fights for respect of the sport

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NEWARK -

New Jersey’s oldest roller derby team says that they are trying to fight for respect for the sport and to show that it is just like any other activity.

The Garden State Rollergirls are now in their 11th year. They have a roster of nearly 50 women, split into several teams.

The women often go by nicknames while playing and come from a variety of professions in their day-to-day lives.

“I’ve never loved something so much,” says Ashley “Slambi” Robinson, a 25-year-old nanny from Paterson. “I fall. I get beat up. I’ve been injured and I just want to go back.”

Johanna “Kiki” Pitcairn, 35, says that she did not play any sports growing up. But says that she has really taken to this sport.

"This is the first thing that I'm really sticking to because I really like roller skating,” the New York City law firm project manager says. “I think beyond hitting people, I just like being on wheels.”

The team says that modern roller derby is nothing like the scripted versions of the 1970s. The sport has traded in bank tracks for flat surfaces.

"It's evolved from less of a race to becoming more of rugby on skates,” says Garden State Rollergirls game official Roger Harkavy, who has been with the team nine years.

Team members say that the sport is now about strategy, skill and strength.

"It becomes like a puzzle, but a physical puzzle that I have to push someone out of my way in order to complete the job,” says Kristie “Voldeloxx” Revicki, a 32-year-old librarian from Lyndhurst.

The team says that the small turnout for matches isn’t enough to pay for their expenses, so they have to raise funds and engage in the community to get more support.

The Garden State Rollergirls are ranked 72nd overall in the country out of more than 400 teams. Information about the team and matches can be found at their website.

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