Maine Roller Derby athletes salute their sport and each other at the Glitter Gala.

The women of Maine Roller Derby got sparkly for a late-night Glitter Gala and Awards Ceremony at The Porthole Restaurant & Pub last weekend, celebrating the end of the 2015 derby season. The wardrobe change was a swift one, given that several derby rookies – known as “fresh muscle” – took to the track in their first exhibition rout earlier in the evening.

“You know that saying, ‘you get knocked down, you get up again’ – that’s literally what roller derby is,” said Heidi “Sketchy Lou Weasel” Kendrick. “But it doesn’t matter what age you are, what creed you are, what gender you are; it’s a very accepting environment. It’s a place that supports women being strong.”

The national revival of roller derby a decade ago ushered in fishnet stockings and tutus, a renegade spirit and alter-ego skater names. Those aspects are still part of derby culture but are being eclipsed by serious athleticism, with derby team members practicing three or four times a week for two to three hours.

“It has really gained legitimacy – not just as a recreational thing but as a sport,” said Emily “Sparrowhawk” Marvin, who was honored at the gala as the member “most radically dedicated on and off skates.”

“They just build you up,” said Heather “Rugburn” Meehan. “And you want to be better and to do things that are really scary.”

The Maine Roller Derby league has two women’s teams – the Calamity Janes and the R.I.P. Tides – plus an All-Stars team. Some All-Stars members and the best skaters from teams in Bangor and Rockland came together in December to compete in State Wars, taking seventh place nationally in Daytona, Fla.

“I’ve played sports my whole life,” said Erin “Jamazon” Macro, a member of the State Wars team. “You can’t make contact in most women’s sports. Roller derby is better because you get to make contact. It’s a lot of fun.”

“I knew I wanted to do it the first time I saw it,” said Hanna “Hans Yolo” Berger.

“It turned out that roller-skating is super fun,” said Leah “Cabbage Smash Kid” Farber. “But then there’s also the camaraderie.”

“They’re like family,” said Sarah “Byte-Size Bandit” Gagnon. “If you don’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving, someone will have a spot for you at their table.”

Jessica “Meow’n Em Down” Locke transferred from a team in upstate New York. “It was really great to have a built-in support system as my own personal welcoming team to Portland,” she said.

“I love the community,” said Jamey “Dubliner Broozes” Hawkes. “That’s what it’s really about for me.”

Jennifer “Cherry Clobber” Begley nodded in agreement. “It’s my tribe,” she said.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer from Scarborough. She can be reached at:

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