WoRD Fights the Battle, Looks to Win the War

By Erica Gilman

It was the day of the battle. They donned their gear, looked at each other nervously, lined up. They knew they probably wouldn’t win, but they were going to fight anyway. The whistle blew.

On Sunday, October 30th, the Worcester Roller Derby League broke its year-long rebuild to play against the Western Massachusetts Nyads. The game was won by the Nyads, but the spirit of the Worcester Roller Derby League, or the Warriors, was flying high. Worcester had a team again, after losing the majority of its members last year.

Megzatron, aka Meg O’Rourke, the team’s treasurer, insists that for the her and the team, “2017’s going to be our come back year.”

For those of you who don’t know, roller derby is a game in which females or males can play. There are blockers and jammers on the track: jammers race one another to get points, while blockers try to stop them from passing. A game is made up of a series of “jams,” which include one jammer and about four blockers from each of the two teams. A point is scored for each person on the opposing team that the jammer passes on laps after their initial lap. As well as that, there is hitting, a lot of it. Players can hit legal target zones on the body with their shoulders and hips. Watching a derby game proves just how brutal this sport can be.

The Worcester Warriors are an all-female team, and as Megzatron puts it, the members “come from different places in their life.” On the team, there are moms to college-age women, showing the variety of women this sport appeals to. As well, Worcester has its own junior league for ages 10-17. Megzatron has her own ideas about why the appeal is so universal.

“It’s a good outlet to get your energy and daily stress out,” she said. “You can turn your brain off for two hours and try to hit someone.”

She states that a lot of the women seem to be going through a transitional phase when they join derby, and it serves an accepting space. This is how Meg herself joined the very first Worcester derby team in 2012.

“I joined after I graduated from college, I went from being super protected to the real world,” Megzatron said. “I saw all these women doing their own thing, making their own space and culture and place in Worcester and I was definitely looking for that.”

Kat Smashley, aka Kathleen Blythe Pihl, who joined the team in May, joined for a similar reason.

“I had a toddler and I was kind of burnt out by work, and I needed a place where I didn’t have to be a mom, a coworker, or a partner,” explained Smashley. “Roller derby ticked all the boxes… It was a big part in me getting a handle on my disordered eating and made me physically stronger, as well as helped with my mental health.”

If you want to know more about derby, look it up on Youtube, like Worcester Roller Derby League on Facebook, and if you’re looking to try on some skates, send us a message. If you’re looking for a witty derby blog to follow, look no further than Kat Smashley’s which gets shared on the Facebook page weekly.

And remember Worcester, 2017’s going to be the year of the Warriors, so get ready.

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