Rollers return for new roller derby season

Interskate 88 roared with the sounds of roller derby teams in fierce competition Sunday, June 2 as Oneonta's Hill City Rollers won its first home bout, beating Madison County's Ladies Death and Derby Society, 169-119. 

"We have so many new skaters, and they're all just doing so amazing," said Keshia Genzardi, aka "Panda Snowflake," who can usually be seen at games decked out in black-and-white makeup in accordance with her team name. "I'm so proud of the entire team."

Roller derby is a contact sport played in two 30 minute halves. Two teams skate counter-clockwise around a track, playing both offense and defense by attempting to lap members of the opposing team. Professional roller derby became popular in the late 1940s but popularity dwindled as competing franchises popped up which emphasized theatrics over sport, according to the Women's Flat Track Derby Association. Roller derby experienced a grassroots revival in the 21st century and 59% of roller derby participants are female, according to a 2010 survey by the WFTDA.  

Though the sport may look aggressive, full of shoving and tumbles, the teammates are anything but uncaring toward each other. When a Ladies Death and Derby Society team member took a particularly rough fall, both teams gathered around her to make sure she was alright, and cheered for her when she got back up. 

This type of camaraderie isn't uncommon in roller derby, said Caitlyn Jones, aka "Lady LongLegz," a Ladies Death and Derby Society alumna who came to support her team. 

"It's always just such a great energy in every game," Jones said. "It's cool because you meet people and you keep seeing them over the years, and it makes great connections on and off the track."

Retiring referees Kathy "Ritzy" Desbonnet and Eric "Toejam" Desbonnet were honored at the game. Stefanie Cassano aka "Troublesome Trucks" won MVP for her role as blocker, a player that stops the opposing jammer from passing them and assists their jammer to pass the opposing team's blockers. 

This is the first season back for Adina Magee, aka "Knockerz," who took time off after the birth of her child. She said she enjoys the challenge of being a blocker, even if she gets hit hard and said that her team has a great relationship with Ladies Death and Derby Society. 

"This is the type of game we want our fans to know that derby's all about," she said. 

The Hill City Rollers' next home bout will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 7 at Interskate 88, against Syracuse's Assault City.

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at 607-441-7221 or skarikehalli@thedailystar.com. Follow her on Twitter at @DS_ShwetaK.

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