Red Bank’s own Stacie Rivera (aka Racie O’Madly) skates with the Broad Street Betties at the borough middle school this Friday night. Below, the Red Bank Roller Vixens at the 2011 Halloween parade. (Above photo by Gary Courtney)
By TOM CHESEK
There’s the Career Track, the Mommy Track and the place where it all equalizes, the flat track of 21st century Roller Derby.
A handful of times each year, a gung-ho group of area women put aside their daytime personas as working moms, professionals, stay-at-homes and students slipping into adopted identities like Shamrock Shake Her, Rinky Tuscadero and KourtKnee KarBashUin, and skating onto a modular wooden oval as the Red Bank Roller Vixens.
According to team co-founder Stacie Rivera, it’s a passionate, unpaid pursuit that came together “out of selfish desire. We felt that Red Bank would really support it, with the town’s eclectic mix of people.”
A bookkeeper by trade and therefore a natural choice to have been “volunteered” as the team’s official treasurer Rivera will be among the Vixens taking the track on Friday, January 20, when the Broad Street Betties meet the Train Stop Trixies in an intra-league exhibition bout at Red Bank Middle School.
A fundraiser for the school’s eighth-grade class trip, the 8 pm event is the first of 2012 for the Roller Vixens, a “skater owned and operated” nonprofit organization that played its inaugural exhibition bout in South Amboy in February of 2011 (and whose team members have frequently been visible at such local happenings as Red Bank’s Oysterfest and Halloween Parade).
It’s also the opening whistle in an expanded season (including at least one community service project per month) that will find the Vixens looking beyond their self-contained league, organizing both indoor and outdoor bouts with roller derby teams from around the region a schedule not unlike that of the well-established Jersey Shore Roller Girls, the Asbury Park-based team that alternates squad-vs.-squad matchups with home and away bouts against teams all around the northeast.
“We’re definitely ready to start playing other teams,” says Rivera, speaking after a Wednesday night practice session at the Red Bank Primary School gymnasium. “The exhibition bouts are a great way to prepare for that you learn from it, grow from it.”
While it doesn’t boast the fixed, banked wooden track (and the often over-the-top dramatics) of vintage women’s derby, the new breed of flat-track action offers real competition, with real rules and a very real chance of black ‘n blue body parts and bruised egos. The teams play to win, in a display of speed, strategy, and the satisfaction that comes from annihilating a jammer.
The Vixens, who also practice twice a week in South Amboy (or at Red Bank’s Community YMCA in the warmer months), are always on the lookout for new individuals to join their family of more than 40 skaters, coaches and referees as well as non-skating volunteers who run promotions, sell merchandise, and provide other much-appreciated support services (a dedicated email address has been established for all inquiries).
Rivera points out that unlike many other regional organizations in the fast-growing field of flat track derby, the Roller Vixens’ league is fully insured, eliminating the mandate (if not the helpful recommendation) that applicants come equipped with extensive medical coverage when trying out for the team. The Vixens also furnish all equipment, and even provide a babysitter at each event for member moms in a jam.
Unique among roller derby organizations in New Jersey is the Red Bank Riot Girls, a Junior League squad for girls ages 12 to 18. The team of “about a dozen” young athletes has been engaged in intensive training in recent months, with the goal of making a public debut in a series of split-squad bouts at various Vixens events on the 2012 schedule.
The Roller Vixens have made available a total of 400 tickets to Friday night’s fundraiser event at a price of $12 each, with doors opening at 7pm at the middle school on Harding Road.
Opening at 7:30 will be the cast of Pretty Things Peep Show, with the variety performers (frequent guests at Monmouth County’s own regional Burlesque capital, Asbury Lanes) offering a G-rated show that’s toned down and tailored to the family audience.