by Julia Mantsch
Founded in 2012, the WestCo Derby team offers the sport of roller derby to women in Westmoreland County and neighboring communities. The team trains twice a week and competes at home and away from March through November. “Our team is currently recruiting, and we have a special recruitment night at Hot Shots Indoor Sports Arena on Saturday, Feb. 28, from 7 to 9 p.m., for all interested skaters, volunteers, and referees,” said Karen “Code Red” Struble, WestCo’s most active team representative. “There is a role for everyone in roller derby.”
Image 2 courtousy of Intuitive Exclusive. Image 3 taken by Sarah Welch. Image 4 by Joshua Morrison Photography. An active player for WestCo Derby, Sarah “Sadie Exe Cutioner” Welch was happy to offer some of her experiences from the sport that she loves. “I was never an athletic person,” Welch said. “I didn’t even know how to skate when I showed up for my first practice, but they were more than happy to teach me. Roller derby is a very unique sport in that things like size and age don’t matter. Anyone is welcome.”
But even though anyone is welcome, those who want to participate should be aware that it’s not always pretty. “Roller derby is a full-contact sport,” Welch said. “The hits are real and they are hard. Broken wrists and ankles, as well as knee and shoulder injuries are a possibility. We train to fall as safely as possible, to hit as cleanly as we can, and to strengthen weak spots such as our ankles.” There are plenty of misconceptions about roller derby. “There is no ball and it’s not like it was when people watched it on television,” Welch said. “A lot of people think that it is staged like wrestling, but it’s not.” “Another misconception is that it is all tutus, fishnets, and parties. I do really enjoy those aspects, but it’s also a lot of hard work, practice, tears, and sweat,” Welch said.
“People also think that it is a sport for bullies, or mean girls, but honestly, I have never met a more welcoming, caring, helpful group of people. It is really just such an amazing community.”
There are some unknown elements of the sport that should be unveiled. “First and foremost,” Welch said, “there is something for everyone. If you don’t want to play but still want to be involved, we are always in need of volunteers to help. We need skating and non-skating officials, announcers, graphic artists, EMTs, and lots more.” “Secondly, roller derby will change your life. It has boosted my self-confidence by leaps and bounds. And lastly, it is so much fun. Our games are family-friendly, so parents, children, and grandparents show up to see their favorites play.”