PUNXSUTAWNEY – Every week, a group of women on skates come together and push each other around — not to worry, though, its all fun and games.
A local roller derby team will see its first home game of the season Saturday and the public is welcome to roll in and cheer on women having fun.
The Rebel Rollers includes women from just about everywhere, including Reynoldsville, DuBois, Clarion and Punxsutawney, said team member Andrea Crawford.
The team, which currently has 11 players, has been competing for three years, traveling to places like Erie or Ohio or West Virginia and beyond, Crawford said.
“You meet so many people, and I’ve made so many new friends,” she said. “Everyone is there to have fun.”
Crawford, who is considered a “jammer” and a “blocker,” said the sport isn’t as much about winning to them as it is about enjoying a competitive activity and the camaraderie with one another. Win or lose, they all go out and celebrate a job well done afterwards.
“It’s a competitive sport, but its not just about winning,” she said. “We are perfectly happy losing because we still get to meet each other, go out and dance and have a good time. It’s a nice outlet for all of us.”
Roller derby used to be a lot more aggressive back in the ‘50s than it is now, Crawford said. It may seem intimidating to some, but there are many safety precautions taken to ensure no one is seriously injured. Players are geared up with knee, elbow and mouth protection, as well as helmets.
Team Captain Jennifer Taladay of Reynoldsville plays on the team with her daughter, Ellen. It has been an enjoyable way for them to spend time together while doing something unique as a mother-daughter pair.
“There aren’t many sports out there for grown women,” she said. “This is a great way to participate in a team sport that has an individual element to it.”
Activities like roller derby encourage players to stay fit in and outside of practice, and is a great way to combine exercise and fun, Taladay said. One player recently lost 35 pounds.
“Most women don’t do enough for themselves — they’re busy taking care of their families and husbands and jobs, and they seldom take care of themselves,” she said. “Roller derby is a great way to have something that’s just for them.”
The team works with players at any fitness or skating level, Taladay said. It may take someone six months to get the hang of the sport, but if they are willing to work hard, the team works with them until they are ready to compete.
“It’s a good fit for many types of people — it’s not a sport just for one person,” she said. “Its been great for us to all come together. Our team is like a family.”
The Rebel Rollers practice on Thursday nights at the Reynoldsville Rollerdrome, where anyone interested in becoming a new player is able to come and watch.
“Other teams are a lot more serious than we are,” Taladay said. “I think some of us already have too much seriousness (in our lives). We need something thats fun and a little less serious.”
The first home game, otherwise known as a “bout” in derby language, will be held at Punxsutawney State Park at 5 p.m. on Saturday and is free to the public. The Rebel Rollers can be found on Facebook.