Day at the Derby: Soldiers, veterans and military wives lace up

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Whether you are a five-star athlete or a weekend warrior, it’s a sport that’s not for the faint of heart. Many local women are throwing caution, and each other, to the wind in order to build relationships and mental toughness.

When many think of the military, they think of soldiers protecting our freedom on the battlefield. But there’s a group of local fighters gearing up for battle in a different kind of area, looking to make personal connections.

Roller Derby is a series of two-minute races consisting of a team of five players on each team. There’s one jammer per team that begin each bought at the back of the pack and four blockers on each team working to either block them or their assist their jammer to make it to the front of the pack. 

The  point for the blockers is to block the other team’s jammer so they don’t get through while also assisting their own jammer. Each opposing player that a team’s jammer passes is a point for the team. 

Victoria Dunn, who is known by her Derby name ‘Deadly Long Legs,’ said she first came out to roller derby to just check it out. In that first meeting, they put her on skates in the middle of the track. 

Most of the women in this Roller Derby league have ties to the military. Some were recently retired, others still serve and others are military spouses looking to make a name for themselves. 

“When I got out of the military you just miss that sense of camaraderie with people and I got to that point where I let my PTSD just dink me into depression where I didn’t want to be active and I just wanted to do something with my time,” Dunn said. “So I decided, I like skating so I’ll do derby.”

“My husband is military, so we move a lot and it’s hard to make friends because we move a lot,” Roller girl Allison Addessi, aka ‘Maul McCartney’ said. 

In total, the league has four or five players who are active duty skating and more that are retired or military spouses. 

“I think it’s hard to find anything that’s similar to the military in the sense that it’s a very difficult job that you do and it’s not always pleasant. The people that you go through that kind of stuff without become really close to and I feel like with derby, it’s the only other time I’ve been able to feel that camaraderie,” said Dunn.

For many of these women, it’s about the ability to have a full contact sport that is exclusive for women. They enjoy pushing themselves physically and mentally, but they also enjoy doing it with a group of people who cheer them on. Many say that’s the aspect that reminds them most of the military. 

These women are all part of the El Paso Roller Derby League. The teams practice three days a week at the nations Tobin Park in Northeast El Paso and are still open to new members. 

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